Having a poor memory can be a frustrating thing when it causes problems like difficulties at work or forgetting things like PIN numbers or items on your to-do list. But some memory problems can be improved by changing simple things like how much you pay attention or concentrate on something.
Does it surprise you to learn that eight seconds is the amount of time you need to completely focus your attention upon something in order to effectively transfer it from you short to your long-term memory? Sometimes the reason that you can’t remember something is because you never got the information into your memory to begin with. Everyone has those moments where you put your keys or your glasses down without noticing. Inevitably we end up wasting a lot of time looking for the lost items later on. But the items were lost in the first place because our minds were not in the present and were really not concentrating on what we were doing. A simple way to improve your memory is to keep your mind on the present and really pay close attention to what you are doing at the moment. One way to concentrate on even the smallest actions is to repeat out loud what you’re doing. For example, say aloud, “I am putting my keys on the kitchen counter” as you put your keys down. You should also minimize distractions like music, television or phone calls to allow yourself to focus fully on what you are doing.
Simply concentrating on the present will boost your ability to remember the names of new people that you meet. Often times when meeting new people, we can be more obsessed with how we look and the impression that we are making than actually paying attention to what the person is saying. You can practice your ability to concentrate by reading an article in a newspaper or a magazine and then explaining the article to someone else. Were you able to remember all of the details or do you need to pay better attention when you’re reading? Although writing is a rich and useful medium, our brains do not easily encode written information which makes the information we read difficult to remember. Just by concentrating a little harder, you can improve on the way that you take in this kind of information. After watching one of your favorite television shows, see if you can remember the outfits that various characters wore throughout the program. If you can remember many of the small details, then your memory is getting good exercise.
Some memory improvement techniques require you to think of entertaining and useful visualizations for incoming information. But, this skill will be useless if you’re not concentrating on what you need to remember in the first place. Some people scribble things like phone numbers or one-word reminders on Post-It notes to help them to remember things thinking that it is all of the information they will need later. But, without concentrating on why you need the information in the first place and its value to you, that slip of paper is useless. A lot of the information we have to remember in modern life is presented differently but just by concentrating a little harder, you can improve your memory and improve your life.