An expert has written that there are misconceptions in what people think about memory. Most tend to think that we remember what we like and forget that which we do not pay much attention to. And as we age even parts of what we remember seem to avoid us when recalled.
True to an extent! It is true that we remember things that we like to remember because there may be some pleasant things associated with them and our mind is attuned to recall our likes easier than the routine things that we encounter in our daily life.
But like a psychologist said, “We remember or recall easily based on how we take them in, in the first place.” In other words if we initially went over what was to be remembered and stored in our mind with something associated it would invariably come back to us without effort. E.g. names of persons, places, events, tragic occurrences, and a whole lot of them that we immediately mouth on being asked or in our need, because we immediately see the image before us or some fact registers that is connected to it.
There are different ways it is done and each to his way of going about it. But the point to be remembered is – it has to be taken in ‘correctly’ in the first place.
There was a scientific magazine that even spoke of the use of brain cells used by the so called brilliant men of the world. It was said that even the most brilliant of them did not use even a third of the cells that could be used to take in.
So with so much at our disposal why do we fail when we need to recall most of what was stored earlier?
Research has it that there are two types of memory. The short type with limited capacity that deals with names of persons, places, numbers that we remember the first time. Known as ‘the 7 bits of information’ it stores temporarily upto seven pieces of information and can recall them correctly. Beyond that one or more of them fail us when we try to remember.
It is the long memory which serves us most. Recalling something from the past, anecdotes learnt earlier, names of long ago etc. It is this that we need to hone and sharpen to keep us abreast or ahead of others in this competitive world.
A healthy mind in a healthy body! That’s right! If we want keen and sharp minds we need two things – good sound sleep (quality sleep of at least 6 hours uninterrupted) and a good diet and exercise regimen that keeps us fit almost always.
Beyond that it is training the mind to do the rest.
Here are some tips that could help :
Focus on the task at hand – most times when we have several jobs to do of random importance, we tend to make one or more mistakes. Imbibe correctly the first time you do, have an imaginary sequence in order of priority(set by you with whatever reasons you wish to attach), take in details of each task correctly and most times in the future, you will be on the dot.
Learning – take in correctly as sequence first time. Correct recall each time is certain.
Make use of your senses – SSSTT – Nothing like the five senses in any combination to help you with your memory.
Sight, Sound, Smell, Taste and Touch.
E.g: When you shake hand with somebody, you hear the persons’s name, you see the person, you are touching the other, close enough you could get even a whiff of some perfume or odor. Four senses are associated with that entity. Committed as four ideas about the person, you can recall later by any of the four ideas after almost any length of time.
Learning – Use as many of the senses as possible to associate.
Repetition of anything over and over – Some find it easy to recall if they have repeated the same thing several times over to properly commit to memory. It could be verbal intonation such as a name, image repeatedly run over in the mind as of an event or recalling in memory now and then as an idea.
Learning – repeat to yourself several times if it helps
Break up numbers or long bits of information to store. – Some people beautifully repeat their 12 digit bank account numbers or ten digit mobile numbers without a pause anytime you put it across to them. How do they do it? – Simple. They break up numbers in lots of two and three and store each as one bit of information to recall easily. Events are more easily remembered as vivid images if witnessed first-hand but if narrated by somebody, the narration can be translated into images and stored as bits in logical sequence. E.g. – an account number like 986754332101 could be remembered as nine eighty six – seven fifty four – three thirty two – hundred and one. I remember this way and successfully.
Learning – Break up data into bits of information.
Mnemonics– using some pattern to connect to an idea for recalling. It is a sequence remembered to arrive at a result – what you want to recall! Or some sort of connected imagery in a remembered sequence that brings back the idea to you Or any such methodology you follow to get to what you wanted to remember.
E.g. let us say you wanted to remember a long list of names in correct fashion for you to put down in an exam for expanding the ideas of. Take the first letter of each word in the sequence,
Make a word that fits in a crazy rhyme or sentence that you can easily recall.
Remember the crazy sentence and you are home. Extend this to any imagery or set of ideas.
Learning – Frame a funny sentence from first letters of each initial word of list, image or idea and commit sentence to memory.
There are many more mind games and devices that could help us. In fact each of us as we grow unconsciously develop our own methods and follow. To Each his own.
The bottom line is – if we are prepared at the start even age may find it troublesome to make us forget.