No matter what your background or educational experience has been, you can learn to improve your memory through practicing the best memory techniques from the world’s memory masters.
Improving your memory isn’t just about being able to recall and retain facts. It will also bring you social benefits (if you can remember people’s names, you’ll be more likable), career benefits (you’ll be a better arguer and presenter if you have information at the ready), and personal benefits (you’ll be able to learn anything you want and boost your self-confidence.
Proof that Memory Techniques Really Work
As a child, Kevin Horsley struggled with dyslexia, was labeled learning-disabled, and struggled to pass classes throughout high school. Memory was a big weakness of his; obviously he was not born with a great memory.
Yet today, Kevin is a world-record holder for memorizing pi to 10,000 digits. How is that possible? Because he started studying the memory techniques used by memory masters, and he practiced them until he was a master, too.
You, too, can improve your memory and your life. Here’s how.
The biggest mistake you can make when trying to remember something is multitasking.
Whether you’re studying for a test, trying to remember your credit card number, or are preparing for an important presentation, you must learn to focus only on the task at hand if you want to improve your memory.
Concentrating on one thing at a time is a skill, just like riding a bike. You have to practice it to become good at it. In a world full of smart phones, pop-up notifications, commercials, and countless other distractions, it can be a challenge to tune out the activity of the outside world and zero in on a single task.
This is the basis of memory improvement: None of these other principles for improving your memory will work if you can’t focus while using them!
2. Get Interested
The more interested you are in something, the more likely you are to remember it.
Spend some time figuring out why you want to learn or remember what you’re trying to remember. The more reasons you come up with as to why this topic is important to you, the more motivation you’ll have to study it, and the better your memory will be.
If you’re stuck, try writing down a list of reasons why remembering this thing or learning about this topic will improve your life. Only when you have the why can you successfully move on to the how.
3. Create Pictures
Our brains are wired to remember images and visuals better than any other stimulus. So use that fact to your advantage!
You can attach a mental image to any word, concept, or idea. Next time you’re trying to remember something, try creating an image, picture, or visualization of it in your mind. The more you visualize something, the easier it will be for you to remember.
Even if you think you’re not creative or you just can’t see pictures in your head, try it! Every human being has the ability to visualize, but it is a skill that must be learned and practiced. Just as we exercise our bodies to improve our physical skills, we must exercise our brains to improve our mental capacities.
Try adding extra details to your visualizations to really make them stick in your mind. Instead of just imagining a dog, really try to see the dog in three dimension. Notice its colors and the length of its fur, smell its breath, hear its bark, touch its soft fur … turn your visualization into a full sensory experience.
These multi-sensory images activate various parts of your brain, making it easier to store the information in your long-term memory.
The images don’t have to make perfect sense, either. The sillier, the better!
Let’s say you want to remember the term “apoptosis,” which is when your body kills cells that are no longer needed. You could visualize a cell being popped by your toes—that’s a-pop-tosis!
That silly image is far more likely to stick in your memory forever than a flashcard definition.
4. Use Mind Maps
Mind maps are visual representations of the relationships between concepts. They are helpful when trying to memorize large sets of complex information.
For example, if you’re studying for a biology test, you can make a quick mind map of all the key concepts from your class.
Start with the main topic, and put that in the center.
Then, give each sub-topic a “branch” out from the center, and continue to branch out from each sub-topic with sub-sub-topics. Use lots of images to really make those connections stick!
Here is an example of a mind map we made for book genres:
5. Use Mnemonic Devices
Mnemonic devices are special mental tools or models you can use to remember information, kind of like mind mapping or visualization.
There are specific mnemonic devices that have been developed over the years that have been found to be especially helpful. One of these is called the “mind palace” technique, where you think about a location you know well and mentally place objects in that location in order to remember large amounts of information easily.
You can read our post all about mnemonic devices to learn more about these handy memory tools.
6. Review and Repeat
Once you’ve used a memory technique to remember new information, whether you chose to use mental imagery, mnemonic devices, or mind maps, it’s important to come back and review that information or visualization a few times to maximize retention.
The day you learn the information, think through your device or visualization again at the end of the day. Then think about it for a minute or two the next day, and again a few days later.
Reviewing something just a few times for just a few minutes will help you lock information into your long-term memory. Using the memory techniques here will vastly improve your recall and understanding.
A Book to Help You Master Your Memory
If you want to learn more about how to dramatically improve your memory, check out Kevin Horsley’s book, Unlimited Memory.
Have you ever used memory techniques like these? How did they help you? Tell us in the comments.
If you liked this article, you might also like:
- 4 Types of Mnemonic Devices and How to Use Them
- How to Improve Your Memory: A Simple Memory Technique That Allows You to Remember Important Things Faster
- 6 Hacks to Take Better Notes
- 5 Best Mindfulness Books for Reducing Stress and Living With More Calm
- Why You Should Meditate Daily: How Meditation Changes Your Brain for the Better
Tom Corson-Knowles is the founder of TCK Publishing, and the bestselling author of 27 books including Secrets of the Six-Figure author. He is also the host of the Publishing Profits Podcast show where we interview successful authors and publishing industry experts to share their tips for creating a successful writing career.