Bad Memory? Sharpen Your Ability to Remember With These Techniques

How many times have you heard someone say, “I can’t remember anything. I have a bad memory.” Do you say this yourself? Under normal circumstances, there’s no such thing as a “bad memory.” It’s usually a case of paying attention and retaining the information that your senses take in. An effective way to sharpen your memory so that you can retain more information is to use a technique called, “Word Association.” I use this technique on a daily basis. It helps me to remember names, dates, appointments, and other important information that I need to know.

Word Association is simply what its name implies. If you want to improve your memory, you need to associate words with mental images. For example, let’s say that you can never remember your wedding anniversary, and this aggravates your
mate to no end. Remembering that special date could make your marriage happier, so let’s see how you can do that. Let’s also say that your anniversary is on June 25. You can associate June with “June bride” to remember the month. Then you can associate the day with how old you were when you wed your June bride. Or, maybe the number correlates with the number of guests at your wedding. You get the idea. You need to think of something that will help trigger your memory so you can successfully remember the date of your wedding anniversary.

A second method that works well for sharpening my own memory is to associate people’s name with a distinctive attribute about them. For example, it would be easy to remember a man you just met if he had red hair and his name was Red Smith, right? So, how can you remember a man you just met who has the name of Jim Levin? There’s nothing about his looks or personality that you can associate his name with, so let’s go a little farther. How about using the fact that he owns a car dealership? What kind of numbers do car manufacturers put on vehicles? Vehicle Identification Numbers, or “VIN” for short. LeVIN and VIN- do you see the association?

A third method of retaining facts and figures is called “Repetition.” You probably learned this method of learning and retaining facts in school. It’s a method that involves repeating the information you want to remember over and over again until it’s firmly in your memory.

I can tell you first hand how well this method works. When I attended high school, one of my closest friends was Lee. Lee was a straight “A” honor student. His father was a pharmacist and his mother was a school teacher. Being a teen ager, I just assumed that since his parents were professionals, Lee must have inherited their “smarts.” Maybe he did. But the secret to his excellent grades was a secret his mother had passed onto him. She told him that in order to remember his studies, he needed to write out his textbooks on paper. That’s right! Lee sat down and copied the information from his textbooks over and over again. Did this method of repetition work? You decide the answer for yourself. Lee graduated from high school as our class Valedictorian. He won at least one scholarship and he went on to graduate from college with honors as well!

I use a version of this method in my every day life in order to remember things. I write everything down. Whether it’s a simple message to remind myself to make a phone call or a grocery list. That’s nothing new, you’re probably thinking, anyone can write a list down and then read it later. But that’s the neat part. I don’t take the grocery lists to the store and I don’t hold onto the paper after I write whatever it is I need to remember down.

Use any or all of these methods and you’ll be on your way to sharpening your memory in no time!

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