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How To Improve Your Memory

Too often when I ask the question: “Do you have a bad memory? The automatic answer I get is an emphatic Yes!

My next question to them is what if someone were to borrow from them say a million dollars would they forget the person? And this time they give me a resounding No! Of course not! When I ask them why that is so and they say “well its obvious isn’t it? I mean how can you possibly forget that?

So back to the original question: “why do you think you’ve got a bad memory?” This time they give me another excuse.

Unless you’ve been diagnose with some kind of brain debilitating disease there is no such thing as a bad memory. For that matter there is no such thing as a good memory either. What most of us have is an untrained mind that can be nurtured to develop a razor sharp memory. The main reason why some of us feel that we cannot achieve this is that they are expecting it to occur overnight and they hope that there is some kind of pill that they can swallow that will boost their memory power.

Although some kinds of food can in some ways keep our memory power intact, what it really boils down to is to train our brain to remember what we want and recall them when we want to. In a recent seminar that I conducted, I had an 80 year old gentleman who after having been taught on how to remember was able to recall a long list of words in a short period of time. This is indeed a testament to the fact that old age does not destroy our ability to remember. Consider this metaphor: what happens if you never use a knife for a long period of time? The answer is obvious – it will not be as sharp as it should be. However, once you’ve sharpened it and use it regularly you find that it stays sharp. After some time you find that it gets blunt again and you have to sharpen it once more. This is how your memory works. You have to sharpen your memory from time to time. Just like you keep your physical body healthy by engaging in regular exercise, you can keep your memory razor sharp by doing the following things.

Improve your power of observation


One of the key reasons why many of us feel that we’ve got a lousy memory is because we do not boost our power of observation. If you drive, how many times have you parked your car in a multi-story carpark and were unable to find where you’ve parked the car when you return? The reason why you’ve got this problem is because when you parked your car, you failed to connect or link your car to the surrounding environment. You perceive the world that is in front of you and your car. What you need to do is to turn and have a good look at your car and see where you’ve parked it. Link your car to a pillar or remember the lot number where you’ve parked.

When you are introduced to someone new the first thing that you do is to find out the person’s name. And yet a few seconds later you cannot remember the name. Again this is due to your lack of power of observation. What you can do is to ask the person to repeat their name if you did not get it the first time. If the person gives you a name card, look at the card and make an association of the person with the name and his/her organization.

Example: Let say you were introduced to Theresa Lim who is a HR manager with Alphabet Pte Ltd. Perhaps you could see a “Tree” with lots of letters from the alphabets hanging from it. Then you know who the person is as ‘tree’ sounds close to Theresa and the letters on the tree may trigger your brain to recall the name of the company she is working.

However, I need to caution you here to be sensitive to this as it might look impressive on your part if you are able to recall the person you met, but you certainly won’t want to tell the person how you remember her.

Boost your concentration


This is important if you really want to develop a razor sharp memory. You don’t have to sweat over it. You could do it slowly and steadily. Boosting your concentration helps your brain to intensify its various activities and thus helps you to recall information with ease. You can boost your concentration by trying to link unrelated list of words by creating a story between them. Try to remember a whole song lyric by hard and sing it. You can also take a paragraph from a book or a list of countries and see whether you could remember them by hard. When you force yourself to remember such list of items there is a tendency for your brain to make many neural connections that allows you to boost your concentration and this in turn helps you increase your ability to recall information with ease.

Learn a new thing everyday


This is one of the most effective ways to keep your memory razor sharp. When you learn something new everyday you will find yourself becoming increasingly more alert and focussed on what you are doing. One effective way to do this is to learn a new word from the dictionary everyday and try to use it in your daily conversation or writing. Or you could keep an encyclopedia by your bedside and learn a new bit of information before you sleep. The Internet has many useful search engines that give you an immediate access to almost any information that you want. Try not to search for things that you already have a prior knowledge in. Learn something new as in that way your brain will take notice. When you do this regularly you will find that the new information seems to attract your interest and this will inspire your brain to make effective connections with existing information you have to help you boost your memory and make it razor sharp.

Dr Daniel Theyagu is a corporate trainer and seminar leader who has designed and conducted competency-based training for more than 150 organizations. He is based in Singapore and can be reached at dtheyagu@singnet.com.sg

Website: http://www.thinklaterally.com