Memory loss is typical over the age of 65, but some people get anxious about the prospect of forgetfulness when they’re younger. If you want to preserve a memory or an idea, you may have to work harder than others. Some people are genetically predisposed to remember things while others aren’t, so that must be accounted for.
Here are five ways to preserve memory and improve your overall short-term memory.
1. Structure Your Thoughts
Whether you’re at work or just trying to remember interesting information for fun, you need to structure and organize your thoughts to retain them better. As you practice techniques for organization, over time, your methods will become automatic and you’ll preserve more of your memories.
If you’re studying something or receiving new information about something you want to remember, group the concepts together. When terms and concepts are closely related, link them in your mind and try to visualize the connections.
When possible, try to draw an outline up of what you’re trying to remember. If you’re studying for school, these kinds of outlines are often hinted at in the textbooks you have to read.
Consider what makes sense for you when organizing ideas. You’ll know from past experiences what kinds ideas were easy for you to remember, consider why and try to emulate how that worked.
2. Mnemonic Devices Work
When you hear “Elephants Grow Big Dirty Feet” or “Every Good Boy Does Fine”, it probably takes you back to your first music class. When you were first learning the piano or how to play a recorder, you probably had to learn these sentences. They allow young students to remember the abstract concept of reading music.
Using positive imagery and creating something that looks or feels unique is a great way to create a mnemonic device. Make it relate to your life or your interests and you’ll find it’s much easier to recall.
This is challenging with very complicated concepts but can be very useful when you need to maintain the order of terms or ideas in your head. These devices work for studying in school, remembering passwords, and recalling an order of operations for work.
If it’s just for you and your memory, don’t be afraid to be a little weird and funny.
3. Take Your Time
If you remember cramming for tests in school, you also remember that you don’t remember anything. The information that you tried to cram inside your head in just a few days or hours was probably a lot harder to retain than things you went over in class.
The same thing happens as an adult. Take your time when you’re trying to remember the name and say goodbye to a new person and use their name. It’s far more likely that you’ll recall it later.
If you’re given something at work, let your superior know that you need time to look it over. If you have the time, don’t just look it over right before you have to deal with it. Even just a cursory look during your lunch break or on the train ride home can give you a chance to familiarize yourself with basic concepts.
While some people remember things under pressure during a marathon cramming session, that doesn’t work for everyone. Be kind to your mind and give yourself time.
4. Rehearse New Information
When you’re trying to remember new information, it’s very important for you to rehearse what you’re being told for the first time. Give yourself not only a chance to read things out loud, but to also read long definitions of ideas. You can pause and break down things that don’t make sense to you.
Rehearsing information out loud can work wonders. If you’re new to a concept, hearing yourself say it or hearing someone else say it can make it more understandable.
Don’t be afraid to repeat things too many times. You need to repeat things as many times as is necessary for you to remember them. The goal is to remember well, not as quickly as possible.
Make it a habit to reheard new ideas as soon you learn them. Rather than just cramming information in there, you’ll build it into conversations and find connections in things that you read and write.
5. Create Visual Relationships
When people study complicated concepts, they often look at diagrams, graphs, and charts. There’s a reason that most presentations that you see at work or throughout universities around the world are put into graphs and charts. They help people understand the gist of what a concept is about, even if they don’t understand the details.
If you’re a creative person or a visual learner, you probably already know. However, some people who learn this way don’t feel comfortable using the tools that work for them in their professional or adult lives.
Feelings work well for preserving things, which could be good for your mental health as you associate new ideas with good feelings.
Your memories are valuable and so whatever you want to do to recall information is probably a good idea. Check out this article to find out how some strange foods can help you remember things.
It Takes Work to Preserve Memory
If you want to ensure that you preserve memory for longer, you may have to work hard to hold onto what you’ve learned. However, if you use a few of the tricks above to hold onto things, you could start building that method into your overall memorization techniques.
If you’re finding that you aren’t memorizing what you want to, check out this guide to how substances can take away from your ability to memorize things.