5 Memory techniques and 17 tips to boost recalling and reading
When we learn, we acquire information, and acquisition is impossible without our ability to “store” data. Here is when memory steps in as an essential tool. “Memory is the glue that binds our mental life together”, says neuroscientist Eric Kandel, winner of the Nobel Prize.
As far as reading is an inseparable part of the learning process, a great number of memory techniques have been invented to boost our memory and improve our reading performance. I will introduce five of them in this blog post.
5 Memory Techniques
If we understand, we will memorize and recall. Most people think they will memorize if they read the same content over and over again. However, mechanical repetitions have little payoff. We have to learn, understand, and create connections in order to memorize and recall.
1. Recalling Technique
Recalling can be practiced in a number of ways. Try to put the source aside and restate what you have already learned in your own words; this will improve your reading comprehension and enhance your understanding of the text.
Another way of boosting your understanding and memory is to practice active reading. Make notes throughout reading and ask yourself questions (Why is it happening? Why is it important? How can I explain this? What does this behavior mean?). Other methods of effective recalling are: reading the text aloud, copying the text by hand, creating a summary of the text in your own words, or asking someone to read it to you.
2. First-Letter Text method
Consider a memory technique called “the first-letter text method” if it is required not only to memorize the text but also to recall it word by word. All you have to do is to write the first letter of every word in the text you want to memorize. Then put aside the original content and try to read the first-letter text.
Consult the original whenever you are stuck. With deliberate practice you will find yourself recalling the text with ease and accuracy. Fortunately, there are online converters to help you automatically produce first-letter texts. The reason recalling is so important is that is helps us to store information in our short-term memory, practice it as needed, and then move it to our long-term memory.
3. The Peg System
This method helps memorize new things based on previous knowledge. A “peg” is a mental hook on which you hang new information. You can come back to this peg anytime to recall the necessary things.
Use numbers or the alphabet to connect things to one another. For example, relate what you are supposed to remember to numbers 1-10 or letters A – J (1 – table, 2 – door, 3-street, etc.). Keeping rhyme will make memorization even easier. For example: one-son, two-glue, three-bee, etc.
The good news is that our brain is capable of “hanging” several different items on the same “peg”. This method can be widely applied in learning a list of not only words but also concepts, definitions, specific terms, etc.
4. The Link System
The idea behind the link system is simple: you link things to be remembered together. This method relates to remembering lists of items and is particularly useful for enriching your vocabulary. Take a list of words you want to memorize and visualize a story or a dialogue around it.
Dare to imagine the most unthinkable scenarios especially when you deal with a list of unrelated items. For example, animate the objects by making them walk and run, talk and laugh. In your story use all the words on the list and you will find it so easy to remember their meanings.
5. The Theory of Mood Memory Technique
The theory of mood memory is another popular memory technique which implies that when we are in a positive mindset, we are inclined to memorize positive things and vice versa. Moreover, recalling how we felt in a certain situation can help us to quickly memorize things. So, try to recreate the feelings you had while reading a book or a lecture and you are more likely to memorize the content you have read.
17 Tips to improve memory
Lead a healthy lifestyle!
- Get nutritious and healthy food. Make sure fresh vegetables and fruits are regular components of your meals.
- Get rid of or reduce stress you may feel every day.
- Get enough sleep. Sooner or later, lack of sleep will result in physical weakness and consequently, in poor mental activities.
- Have enough rest. Without having rest, we will exhaust our ability to memorize effectively.
- Have short breaks. When doing mental work, we need breaks for our memory to process what we have learned.
- Organize the environment where you study or work; obviously, it’s easier to forget things if your books and notes are scattered around.
- Organize your virtual environment. People who have messy desktops and unorganized folders in their computers are most likely to be absent-minded.
- Get rid of distractions. Phone calls, social sites, messages are potential reasons to distract your concentration. Achieve maximum focus to be able to memorize more effectively.
- Sort out the most important information. Always try to find the most relevant data you need to memorize and keep it in an organized way.
- Make learning connected. When learning is social, it usually becomes more rewarding. You can share ideas, learn from various experiences, approach things from different angles. Whether online or off, you can spark a discussion on the topic you study or explore. All this will help to link different objects and ideas, enhance your perception by creating strong associations, and consequently, boost your memory.
- Teach. Surprisingly, when we feel we do not understand something or have difficulty to remember it, teaching can help. The core idea is that when you explain something to someone, you also make it more comprehensible for yourself.
- Socialize with intelligent people. Find people you consider intelligent and inspiring and try to communicate with them regularly. People with wide outlook and strong mental ability will open doors to new ideas and experiences that you probably can’t access otherwise. We are inclined to memorize more easily if we link our knowledge to life experiences and to people we interact with.
- Practice or listen to music. Music can have a calming effect on your mind and boost your memory. Play an instrument or simply turn on music that provokes positive emotions.
- Concentrate on a single task. Multitasking can lead to distraction and inefficiency, so make sure you focus your attention on a single thing at a time.
- Visualize, when reading. Use visualization techniques to create mental images as you read a text. It will help to tie words to specific images, which will immensely improve your memory.
- Balance old and new information. Build up new information on previously learned content. If you should learn a totally new thing, dedicate time to reading and exploring the new subject. Get down to learning and memorizing things after having accomplished this pre-learning task.
- Avoid learning something when you are in pain or under the influence of alcohol.
Develop useful habits
Memory Techniques: Summary
Memory plays a vital role in the life-long process of learning and storing information. When we are successful in our work or study activities, we feel more self-confident and more powerful to overcome stress and fight setbacks. Keep in mind all the above memorization techniques, and pick up the ones you feel will serve you most.
Enjoy the benefits of efficient memorization! If you have further tips or want to share your best memory techniques please describe them in the comments below.