The ability to remember and recall information is important in our lives. Imagine if a surgeon couldn’t remember the proper way to tie a knot during the middle of your surgery. While memory and recall can fade with age, there’s a lot we can do to enhance our memory and concentration.
Concentration is a key component of memory. You have to be able to concentrate if you wish to recall the information at a later time.
Enhance your memory and focus with these tips:
1. Clear your mind. It’s challenging to concentrate if you’re hungry, thirsty, restless, or tired. Take care of yourself first. Avoid forcing yourself to work through discomfort. Remove the discomfort so you can concentrate. Eat a snack or take a walk if that helps clear your mind.
2. Space out your memorization sessions. Attempting to memorize complex information in one sitting doesn’t work well for most people. It’s much more effective to review the information several times spaced out over the course of several days.
- Perhaps you can spend every day for a week memorizing something. Then, you can make it 2-3 days a week for the next two weeks. Eventually, you’ll only have to spend one day per week. There isn’t a hard and fast rule. The complexity of the information will dictate the schedule.
3. Think of concentration as a finite entity. You only have a limited amount of concentration. If you expend all your concentration when surfing the internet or watching TV, you’ll have less of it for other, more meaningful things.
4. Peg items to your memory. Here is an easy way to remember a list of items. Even if your memory is horrible, you can easily remember a list of 20+ things with minimal effort.
- Think of the number one. What does it remind you of? Let’s say it reminds you of a tree or a telephone pole. If you’re trying to remember a shopping list, the first item might be milk. Picture in your mind a cow that is up in a tree being milked by a farmer. Something outrageous like that is easy to remember.
- A few suggestions: 2=light switch, since it has two positions, 3= stool (3 legs), 4=car (4 doors, 4 wheels), 5=glove (5 fingers), and so on. Make up your own memory pegs.
5. Be aware of state-dependent learning. We best recall information in the state in which we learned it.
- For example, if you learned something at home, you’ll have better recall in that same environment. If you’re taking a class, attempt to study in the same room where you’ll be tested.
6. Learn how to meditate. Meditation is excellent for clearing the mind and teaching you how to concentrate. Meditation is all about maintaining your focus on a single thought or point.
- Begin by seeing how long you can sit and focus entirely on your breath. It probably won’t be very long at first. But when your mind wanders, simply bring it back to your breath.
- Meditation can be a great way to take a break. After working for an hour, take a 10-minute meditation break. Your mind will stay focused and relaxed. You’ll find that you can work longer, too.
Working on your memory is a great way to keep your brain young. Many studies have shown that boosting your memory helps to prevent many degenerative brain diseases. If your memory is starting to slip or you want to keep it from doing so, now is a great time to put these tips into practice.