Are you envious of people with exceptional memories? You know, the kind who have an encyclopedic knowledge, while you struggle to remember the name of the person you were introduced to seconds ago. In today’s fast paced and ever changing world, we’re learning new things everyday. Whether it’s how to play guitar, master a new technology, raise a child or try a new recipe. The mind is always soaking up new information. Being a quick learner can give you an even greater edge. Here are the best techniques to help you memorize things faster.
From coordinating smells, chewing gum, memory palace, the chunking technique to using the power of melody and more.
Smells have been proven to trigger memories better than sound. But direct application can be quite tricky. One idea is to coordinate smells from when you’re memorizing something to when it needs to be remembered. For example, try spraying perfume of a very particular odor on the back of your hand when you’re reading, and then again the same the day of your test, or speech or presentation.
Relate new things to what you already know
A great brain based technique for memory retention is to relate new information to what you already know. For example, if you are learning about Romeo and Juliet, you might associate what you learn about the play with prior knowledge you have about Shakespeare, the historical period in which the author lived and other relevant information. This will make retaining new information about the topic easier.
The sleep sandwich to memorize
Imagine you have an important presentation and only one day to prepare. How do you learn a lot of information in the least amount of time? Most people try cramming. They’ll pull an all-nighter if they have to. But despite all of their hard work, they end up forgetting about 50 percent of the stuff they wanted to remember. This is because you can expose your brain to countless new stimuli, but it only retains a small percentage of them as you need time to store information in your memory.
During late night cram sessions, you aren’t giving your brain the chance to encode all the stuff that you need to remember. You should study, sleep and then study some more. The sleep sandwich is an excellent way to learn faster because sleep helps you retain more information. In fact, storing memories is one of the most important functions of a good night’s rest. While your conscious goes to bed, your unconscious is actively storing all kinds of stuff in your long-term memory.
But when you pull an all-nighter, you’re preventing your brain from actually learning and retaining those memories. Not to mention, tiredness leaves your brain feeling foggy, slow and unproductive.
Chew Gum to memorize
There are two theories in place for why this is. One is that chewing leads to increased blood flow to the area which enables more brain activity. The other is muchsimpler: chewing gum becomes associated with a particular memory and it gets easier to access if you are chewing gum while recalling it. Regardless of which one you believe, it might be a good idea to pick up a pack of gum before your next big exam. And just in case taste has the same effect as smell, stick with the same flavor for the test as you were when studying.
Teach Someone Else Or Just Pretend To
According to a study, if you imagine that you’ll need to teach someone else the material or task you are trying to grasp, you can speed up your learning and remember more. The expectation changes your mind-set so that you engage in more effective approaches to learning than those who simply learn to pass a test. When teachers prepare to teach, they tend to seek out key points and organize information into a coherent structure. Students can also turn to this effective learning strategy when studying.
Memory Palace to memorize
The fundamental concept of this technique is to associate pieces of information that you wish to remember with parts of a location that you are very familiar with, for example your home. Begin by visualizing yourself walking through your home and remembering every single detail that you can. You can physically walk as well. In fact, the idea of the memory palace is to make use of all your senses like auditory and touch. Now, associate each item that you wish to remember with a specific object or space in your home.
For example, if you are trying to remember a new language, you might want to store all the words related to weather in your wardrobe. Associating items within your mind with a real physical space helps your brain ‘file’ important things to remember more easily. Memory Palaces can be used to remember names, faces, languages, lists, academic material and pretty much anything under the sun.
Take notes By Hand
While it’s faster to take notes on a laptop, using a pen and paper will help you learn and comprehend better. Researchers found that when students took notes by hand, they listened more actively and were able to identify important concepts. Taking digital notes can lead to mindless transcription, as well as an opportunity for distraction, such as email. In fact, it was found that students who took notes on laptops performed worse on conceptual questions than students who took notes longhand. While taking more notes can be beneficial, laptop note takers’ tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning.
Use the Power Of Mental Spacing
While it sounds counterintuitive, you can learn faster when you practice distributed learning, or “spacing.” Think of learning like watering a lawn. You can water a lawn once a week for 90 minutes or three times a week for 30 minutes. Spacing out the watering during the week will keep the lawn greener over time.” To retain material, it’s best to review the information one to two days after first studying it. One theory is that the brain actually pays less attention during short learning intervals. So repeating the information over a longer interval–say a few days or a week later, rather than in rapid succession–sends a stronger signal to the brain that it needs to retain the information.
Learn information in multiple ways
When you use multiple ways to learn something, you’ll use more regions of the brain to store data about that subject. This makes the information more interconnected and embedded in your brain. It basically creates a redundancy of knowledge within your mind, helping you truly learn the information and not just memorize it. You can do this by using different media to stimulate different parts of the brain, such as reading notes, reading the textbook, watching a video and listening to a podcast or audio file on the topic. The more resources you use, the faster you’ll learn.
Chunking can make large amounts of information more memorable. You probably use it already. To remember or share a phone number, chances are you chunk the numbers so they’re easier to remember: “Triple 8” “Triple 5” “triple 0″–rather than the more memory-intensive “8 8 8 5 5 5 0 0 0 .” Research suggests that on average the human brain can hold 4 different items in its short-term memory. But by grouping information into smaller sets, we can hack the limits of our working memory to remember more. This technique involves grouping items, finding patterns in them, and organizing the items. You might group items on your grocery list by aisle, for example, or look for connections between events in a historical period to create chunks of them, such as moments in the 1920s that involved the US Constitution.
To put this into practice yourself, you could group vocabulary words for a new language you’re learning by topic, organize items in a list by the first letter or by the number of letters they have, or associate items with the larger whole they might be involved in.
Use the Power of Melody to memorize
It’s almost mysterious how much easier it is to remember lyrics than recite the words of a tuneless essay. And this is not something we’re just imagining either. Studies have proven the efficacy of melody when it comes to learning. While it might seem like a ton of extra work, you can simply piggyback off melodies you already know and love. Perhaps the best are famous classics because they don’t have lyrics that could perhaps be distracting when trying to memorize. Just make sure you don’t burst into song when you’re remembering. Apart from helping you remember things, music can have a powerful impact on your mental and emotional well being.
Clench Your Right Hand When Learning, Then Your Left Hand to Remember
As weird as it might seem, a study actually proved this effective in improving short-term memory. When you’re learning, simply clench your right hand into a fist. And then later on, when you have a need to remember, squeeze your left hand. However, this is only proven to be effective in right-handed individuals. Though they did the same test for left-handed people, those results are reserved for a different study. Or simply try it for yourself and see if you experience any significant difference.
Find out which method helps you to memorize and learn things quickly.