Improving memory - Techniques that work

Improving memory can be done at any age. If you try some of these time honored techniques AND actually practice them for a few minutes each day, you will find yourself being able to remember just about anything. You do not need to have a super I.Q to have a good memory. What you need to do is follow a few simple rules.

Technique Number 1 for Improving memory: Attention There are people in their 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's who complain, "I can not remember where I put my keys." or "I can not remember anything anymore. I often forget where I put my wallet (or purse)." Hary Lorayne, a leading expert on improving memory and memory development reminds us that we did not forget where we put our keys, wallet or purse. We never knew where we put them in the first place because we put them down mindlessly. We did not pay attention.

Attention is the first prerequisite for remembering something and an easy way to be Improving memory. Next time you come in the house pay attention when you put your keys down. Look at them. See where you have laid them. Get a mental picture of where they are, what things surround them. Briefly close your eyes, see the mental picture of your keys and say to yourself, "I have put my keys ______". Be sure to attention to both your mental picture and your words. Then when you are ready to go out and need your keys, close your eys for a moment and again see the picture of your keys and hear yourself saying, "I put my keys on the TV (or where ever you put them).

If you live mindlessly, always thinking about something else and never paying real attention to what you are doing now, of course you will not remember. You are acting like a child who day dreams through school and then wonders why he or she can not remember what was taught. The first rule for Improving memory is to PAY ATTENTION to what you want to remember.

Technique #2 for Improving Memory: Organize for remembering.There is another way to remember where keys, wallets, hats, dog leashes and other things are and that is to set a specific place for them and to train yourself to put them there every time they leave your hand. Do you get up in the morning and wonder where the coffee maker is? or the refrigerator? or the bathroom sink? Of course not. That is because they are always in the same place. You can find them even when you are half asleep.

Well, you can do the same thing with your keys or wallet or.... At a support group of those who had experienced traumatic brain injuries (TBI) participants were complaining about being close to tears almost every day because they could not find keys, wallets, books etc. One of the men who had lost a good deal of brain tissue stood up and said, "I never have that problem." Then he showed them the jacket that he was wearing. He said had gone to a local sporting good store and bought a vest for sportsmen. Then he began to take object out of pockets as he said, "I keep my car keys in this top pocket, my wallet down here, I keep a half dozen quarters for meters here. I always have a check book or a few checks here and if I am going someplace new, I put the directions in this pocket." I am never frustrated about mislaying things because I have trained myself to always put things in these same places. And I always wear this jacket.

That was the day that I decided to get an attractive key holder and put it by the front door AND I trained myself to come in the door and hang up my keys. I decide to always put my wallet on the first shelf of the book case that stood along the wall going towards the kitchen. True, I also had a couple sets of keys made - just in case I forget to put them where they belonged. And I have worked to develop a habit of paying attention to putting my wallet on the bookcase. Attention is the first step for Improving memory. Technique #3 for Improving Memory - Imagination. If you noticed in the example above about paying attention when you put your keys down, there was a direction to make a mental image of where you put your keys. Why? Because memory is not a logical, left brained activity.

A good deal of your memory is situated in your right brain - the part of the brain that uses images and melodies. (You can probably 'see' your childhood home or what your dog or cat looked like. And many adults can remember the tune of an old nursery rhyme or the opening music of a T.V. series or even the sound of someone's voice you have not heard in years.)

Harry Lorayne tells us to create a picture AND that the more bizarre the picture, the more likely we are to remember.

Try this. Suppose someone tells you to remember a group of random words such as: cat, airplane, sneakers, computer, explosion, dollar bills

It can be done if you use your imagination. Make a mental picture of an unusual looking cat...standing in front of an airplane. got it. Now look at the cat before the air plane and notice that the airplane that has pictures of red sneakers painted all over it and there is a huge computer sitting on top of the plane. So, you have taken care of cat, airplane, sneakers, computer. Now you need explosion so while looking at the image you have created, see that there is a sudden and huge explosion and dollar bills float from the sky.

OK...now play that complete picture of cat, airplane, sneakers, computer, explosion and dollar bills in your imagination a 3 or 4 times until you get it down pat. Technique #4 for Improving memory: Music Music is also a right brained activity and so it is easy to remember things set to music. Advertiser know this and so they make up jingles about their products. If you watched Sesame Street as a child or Mr. Rogers, you can probably remember the shows introductory music.

Some people find that their musical memory is stronger than their imagistic memory and so they put things they want to remember to tunes and then sing them a few times.

One sophomore in high school was required to memorize a long poem in German and he was having a difficult time doing it until he put the poem to tune of Old MacDonald Had a Farm. Come test time, he was heard singing to himself softly and when his teacher asked him what that was all about, he began to sing the poem out loud.

He aced that test....and he learned a great way to remember things.

By the way, do you remember that list of words I asked you to remember? Test yourself now. Cat...... Check back, were you able to remember that random list of words? The power of imagination!

So there are three techniques for improving your memory in daily activates. Decide which ones you will use to remember where you put wallet or keys. Then you will need to practice the techniques. Above all you will need to pay attention to what you want to remember.

If you live an inattentive life, always thinking about something else as you go through your daily activities, you will be plagued by a poor memory. Some people are so inattentive that they can not remember what their spouse or children or their boss wore yesterday. In fact there are some people so inattentive, that they do not remember what they themselves looked like in the mirror this morning.

And what is really tragic is that those around inattentive persons, their children, significant other, co-workers etc. sense that they are not really paying attention to them. And they feel diminished by this lack of attention...

Attention is crucial to Improving memory.

So there are Four Techniques for Improving memory. Which ones will you use?

NOTE: If you want a quick test of your ability to pay attention, there are some Memory tests: a way to assess your Improving memory abilities

To read more articles about brain and memory go to Thought and Memory