2 October 2018
We live in a distracted world and our days are becoming increasingly unfocussed with notifications interrupting every few moments; constant demands on our attention. When did you last walk into a room and forget why? How often do you lose your train of thought in the middle of something?
Whilst I don’t profess to know how to remember every single thing, there are certain things that I do that help me to remember more of what happens each day.
Write it down
There is scientific evidence that you are more likely to remember something if you write it down. I don’t mean making a note in your phone or typing it into your laptop either. I mean physically writing it down with a pen and paper.
According to research published in the journal Psychological Science, because you have to process information before you write it down – to summarise or shorten it to keep up with the speed of speech – it leads to deeper understanding.
I always have a little black book in my back pocket. I have it with me everywhere I go, without fail. You never know when inspiration will strike, or when you’ll have an important catch-up with someone on the go. When you have a notebook to hand, you can scribble the information down. Even if you don’t come back to those notes, you will still remember what was said or the thought that you had.
“However you do it, take note: if you don’t, your ideas will get lost.”
Sir Richard Branson
Play the game
Taking time away from your usual tasks to play a game can be a huge memory boost. Chess is one of the most intellectually stimulating and challenging games. Initially you employ your short-term memory to analyse the board and choose your next move and, in time, you switch to remembering strategies from your long-term memory.
When I am at my best, I play chess every day. First thing in the morning, before everyone else is up, I play a few games of chess online. It encourages patience and practice – qualities which are in steep decline as our collective need for constant distraction and new information grows.
I have found that chess has taught me to recognise when I am falling into the same patterns, repeating old mistakes. It’s a pattern of behaviour that encourages analysis and evaluation.
Pause and process
We all know that taking a break is essential for motivation and productivity, but did you know it can also improve your memory? While memory consolidation is usually associated with sleep, there’s scientific evidence that taking a break, even when awake, can have a similar effect.
Share your memory boosting tips in the comments below – I’d love to read them.