For many people, the fast pace of their lives causes memory problems — regardless of their age. We force ourselves to multitask to cope with daily demands, often causing stress. Trying to focus on a hundred things at a time causes distractions. Subsequently, we struggle with the recollection of recent events. What we prefer to call absent-mindedness is often short-term memory loss. For example, losing the car keys, only to find it in the fridge, along with fresh produce you packed away earlier. All the flash drives in the world could not prevent that. While the car keys example might not be serious, forgetting a sleeping child in the car could have tragic consequences.
What is short-term memory?
Our short-term memory saves recently occurring events, but it has a limited capacity. It is like a flash drive. Overloading it will replace older memories with newer ones. However, frequent use of the information in your short-term memory might become a part of your long-term memory. In comparison, your long-term memory capacity is massive, and it can store unlimited amounts of memories and information almost indefinitely. Think of it as your solid state hard drive.
Fortunately, there are things we can do to improve our short-term memory.
I will list a few of the more unusual ways to do that.
The eight-second rule to save something in your memory
Despite your rushed life and a million things to do before sunset, allow yourself eight seconds to focus on something that you must remember. According to studies, the time required for information to move from short to long-term memory is eight seconds. Think of it as buffering live feeds on your computer. Spending those eight seconds might ultimately save hours.
Improve your memory by clenching your fist
Studies have indicated that fist clenching in a particular way helps people to remember or recall information. This is how you do it: Clench your right hand in a fist while you memorize information and hold it for about 45 seconds. Then, when you want to recall it, clench your left fist for about the same length of time. If you are left-handed, hold your left fist to memorize and your right fist to recall.
Remember before walking through a door
This is a strange one. Reportedly, scientists learned from both real-world and virtual studies that the risk of forgetting is higher after walking through a doorway. They had people place objects in containers and then carry it to another room. Many of the subjects forgot what they had put in the boxes after entering the other room. Those who walked across the same room to the other side had no problems remembering. Scientists are still working on learning why the short-term memory seems to restart upon entering another room.
Blood flow to the brain improves memory
If you have a routine that includes daily exercise, you might not have memory problems. Any form of physical activity and exercise improves blood flow throughout your body and also your brain. Studies have found that people’s ability to remember is enhanced after exercise. In a separate study, six months of keeping fit improved women’s spatial and verbal memory.
Writing instead of typing
In our digital world, seeing someone writing something down has become uncommon. However, you are more likely to remember something that you wrote instead of typed. For example, compare writing a shopping list and typing it onto your smartphone or tablet. You might refer to the written list only once before you check out to make sure you do not miss anything. However, with a digital list, you will likely refer to it all the time, as you fill your shopping basket.
Associate and visualize
One way of remembering a lot of information is associating each part of the information with a sound-like or look-like object or person. Use all the associations and visualize them as you build a story around them. Recalling the simple story is easier than remembering complicated facts. This has been a proven memory hack for many years.
Insufficient sleep compromises memory
We have all pulled all-nighters before big tests at high school or college. Scientists say the bombarding of stimuli in your brain while you are awake fights with the information you try to cram into your memory. Before you write the test, you must sieve all the information and eliminate unnecessary clutter in your brain. Sleeping is also the time when your brain sends information to your long-term memory. This process happens while you sleep and are not processing other stimuli. Most importantly, you’ll sit down to write your test, ready to recall the memories that matter.
No music while studying
Are you one who studies with music playing? Don’t fool yourself. Researchers say the music has the same effect as someone yelling a whole lot of random numbers. This is another case of important information and unnecessary stimuli fighting for the limited space in your short-term memory.
Memory improves at recalling crazy fonts
Relying on crazy fonts might seem mad, but it works. If you change your study material’s fonts to some crazy font, you will remember it better. The more difficult to read, the more you will concentrate and focus while reading it.
Doodle if you want to
Don’t let anyone tell you not to doodle. Drawing little flowers, hearts or racing cars in the margin while listening to a lecturer keeps your brain active. You will be less likely to tune out due to boredom.
Bottom line, if you have read through all this, how much of it can you recall from your internal flash drive?