Imagine the power of being able to memorize anything faster.
Think about how much time you’d have, how much you could shorten the learning curve, and how much more success you could achieve.
So much of what we read and absorb today is forgotten in our brains; we are not leveraging our time to its full potential. How many times have you had to read through a book two or three times because you couldn’t remember the information inside?
Apply these five research-backed ways to improve your memory, and you’ll be memorizing faster in no time.
1. Give it meaning
Meaning can be the difference between understanding something on an emotional level and forgetting it in an instant.
One research showed two people the same photograph of a face and told one of them that the guy was a baker and the other that his last name was Baker. After a few days, the researcher showed the same two subjects the same photograph and asked for the associating word.
The person who was told that the man was a “baker” remembered it much more easily. Can you guess why?
When you hear “baker” your brain associates visual representations of what it means to be a baker. He bakes bread, wears a big white hat–we are given a vivid illustration that most of us are familiar with, therefore giving it more meaning. Baker as a last name, on the other hand, is rather meaningless unless you already have a friend or colleague with that name.
This theory, known as the Baker/baker paradox, teaches us that we should train ourselves to translate more meaning into information we want to make memorable.
2. Exercise that body!
You’ll rarely find anyone who dedicated their lives to physical health with memory dysfunctions. Exercise enhances blood circulation and oxygen to our brain, giving it more functionality.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association supports that even 150 minutes of walking per week will reduce the risk of developing dementia and age-related memory loss.
As an added benefit, exercise is known to release dopamines in our bodies, which reduces depression and stress, two major causes of memory loss.
3. Train your mind
Many of us can recognize the visual benefits of training our bodies, but we often forget to train our minds. While the before and after results are not as clear, there is no doubt that mind exercises can significantly enhance our memories and reduce brain-related diseases.
Instead of watching Game of Thrones several hours a day, we can learn a new skill, play brain training games, or even play chess with a friend. The rule of thumb is, if you need to take a mental break from the activity, it’s good training for the brain.
Here are some ideas to thrill your brain:
- Learn a new language
- Enroll in a new course in an unfamiliar subject
- Learn a new instrument you’ve been putting off
- Read a book that challenges your beliefs
4. Teach it to someone else
Throughout our education, we’ve been taught to listen (typically to a lecture) and write down notes in order to memorize the information. But how many times have you taught something to someone, or immediately applied what you learn?
As research shows, it turns out that people retain:
- 5% of what they learn when they’ve learned from a lecture
- 10% of what they learn when they’ve learned from reading
- 20% of what they learn from audio-visual
- 30% of what they learn when they see a demonstration
- 50% of what they learn when engaged in a group discussion
- 75% of what they learn when they practice what they learned
- 90% of what they learn when they teach someone else/use immediately
This means that the way we’ve been taught to remember information is the least effective way to learn!
If we want to memorize anything faster, the trick is to teach someone else or apply it in your life immediately. This forces our brain to concentrate in order to prevent ourselves from making mistakes while showing others or using it ourselves.
The next time you want to remember something, don’t just write it down. Teach it to someone!
This step is perhaps the most important, but one that most of us take for granted.
While we understand the benefits of getting a good night’s sleep before a big event, we don’t take the time to rest our brains after the event. Our brain needs rest in order to process all the information that it took in during the day.
Taking short breaks is also important to give your brain the bandwidth to process what you’ve learned. Just remember to put yourself in a distraction-free environment when doing so. This could mean going for a long walk or hike at your local park, or simply taking a quick nap.