Memory is a fascinating and complex aspect of human function. While poets and writers wax lyrical about ‘walking down memory lane’ and ‘awakening long-forgotten dreams’, scientists probe the processes of remembering and forgetting.
Psychologists categorise the process of memory into three stages: registration, storage and retrieval/ recollection. Without the initial exposure to an experience, whether physical, mental or sensual, there will be no recollection or memory.
It could be something as fleeting as a scent of someone as he or she walks by or the fragrance of coffee every morning before you open your eyes, or as constant as the chugging of a sewing machine every night as your mother works overtime to earn some extra money for the family.
Having good memory not only spices up your life but is also an essential part of relationships and improving productivity at work. With millions of brain cells, each able to register over 20,000 memories, the brain is akin to a super computer with infinite abilities.
Yet, having poor memory is becoming increasingly common in this day and age. Regardless of one’s age or background, more people are genuinely concerned that they are forgetting things too easily. Why is that happening?
Lim Teck Hoe, Asia’s memory record holder and silver medalist of the World Memory Championship 2002, explains, “People assume that forgetting is common. Expecting to forget is one sure way to undermine ourselves into really losing the information that has been introduced into our heads”.
The professional memory enhancement trainer and CEO of The Switch Sdn Bhd who is nicknamed the Memory Guy puts it simply: “You must pay attention to what is going on if you want to have better memory”.
For example, if you are too preoccupied with emailing or answering text messages on your smartphone during a meeting, you will most likely not remember what the client or your boss was saying!
Memory Guy gives Urban Health ten top tips to boost your memory and increase your performance at home, work and play:
MEMORY TIP 1: TAKE ACTION
Follow up with an action, such as taking notes or highlighting key points.
MEMORY TIP 2: VISUALISE
Visualise a mango. In your mind, chances are you will see a bright yellow fruit instead of the words ‘m-a-n-g-o’. As visual beings, we remember better by using mind-mapping techniques such as boxes, colours and patterns.
MEMORY TIP 3: STRUCTURE YOUR THOUGHTS
Chunk the info that you want to remember into smaller, structured pieces for easier recall later.
MEMORY TIP 4: EXXAGERATE
Associate the concept with something that is funny, illogical or exaggerated, with added colour, sound and smell.
MEMORY TIP 5: PRACTISE
Practise remembering things whenever possible; similar to all other parts of your body, with your memory, you either use it or lose it!
MEMORY TIP 6: FEED YOUR BRAIN
Get sufficient nutrition from eggs, cheese, nuts, vegetables, citrus fruits and meat which are rich sources of Magnesium, Vitamins B and C.
MEMORY TIP 7: AVOID INFO OVERLOAD
Memorise little bits of information one at a time. Info overload creates anxiety, which makes it easier for you to forget.
MEMORY TIP 8: AVOID NEGATIVE TALK
Change the way you talk to yourself. Telling yourself that you can’t do it is a self-defeating prophecy. Tell yourself you are improving every day and each new experience makes you a better person.
MEMORY TIP 9: IMPROVE CREATIVITY
Encourage the use of both the left and right brain, simply by doing something new every day. It can be as simple as taking a different route to work once in awhile, or complex like starting a new hobby.
MEMORY TIP 10: MAKE A LIST
Lists help to develop structure, time management and organizational skills. It also helps you remember your priorities and manage your life better.