Improve Your Focus To Improve Your Memory
How often do you get interrupted when you study?
Texts, app notifications, YouTube, Netflix or just a noisy room students face dozens of distractions and interruptions every single hour.
These factors make it close to impossible for you to reach a high level of concentration which is terrible news if you are trying to improve memory for studying.
Researchers from MIT have found that its easier to form a long-term memory when your mind pays close attention to a task. You will have to minimize distractions from devices or people around you if you wish to remember things better.
Here are a few ways:
Improving Your Study Skills
The key to improving your concentration and memory while studying is to try and eliminate the stressors in your life that are making studying difficult to begin with.
Theres no magic formula to make studying an easier endeavor it will be challenging and difficult, but you can ease the struggle by maintaining good health and promoting a sense of focus.
Watch A Documentary On The Topic
Documentaries are an entertaining way of compacting an entire story into a short timeframe. This will help you remember key details from a story plus you may even get extra credit for mentioning that you took the initiative and watched a film about the topic!
Check out the infographic in this blog post which helps you decide which documentary to watch.
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What Food Boosts Memory
Most helpful for your brain is the food rich in antioxidants, good fats, some vitamins and minerals, and even sugar in small doses, especially if obtained from fruits. According to the authoritative blog on healthy foods Dr. Axe, the 15 most helpful foods to boost your memory are:
- Avocados. They contain lots of healthy monosaturated fats, Vitamins K, B and C, as well as folate.
- Beets. Rich in antioxidants, natural nitrates and numerous vitamins, they are one of the best vegetables for your brain.
- Blueberries. Its antioxidants, Vitamin C and K, fiber, and natural sugar will improve your memory.
- Bone Broth. This food is mostly helpful for your brain due to amino acids and collagen.
- Broccoli. If youve ever been interested in eating healthy, youve probably seen broccoli in the lists of best foods for many aspects of heath. It is also great for your memory due to Vitamin C, K, and choline.
- Celery. With loads of antioxidants, polysaccharides, vitamins, minerals and nutrients, it should appear in your everyday menu.
- Dark chocolate. With at least 70% of cocoa and in small portions, chocolate can be very healthy for you and can improve your memory. During exams or other intense mental activities, it also helps your brain to work better.
- Other foods that will improve your memory are coconut oil, egg yolks, extra virgin olive oil, green vegetables, rosemary, salmon, turmeric and walnuts.
How To Improve Memory For Studying In 27 Ways
Sometimes it feels impossible to remember everything thrown at you during college.
Between the major battles of the Crimean War, partial derivatives, and the life cycle of the western gymnosperm, how do you keep it all in your head?
But it turns out that with the right tools, you can drastically improve your ability to learn and retain the mountains of information necessary to succeed both in college and beyond.
So read on and Ill teach you 27 awesome memory hacks that will help you achieve this!
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Create Connections And Associations
Connecting something you know to a new concept youre trying to learn can help fix that new concept in your memory. For example, knowing that gravity causes things to move faster and faster toward the Earth when dropped, you may associate acceleration with gravity. Acceleration is like gravity but can be in any direction.
Color Association: Put Those Markers To Good Use
This method might seem a bit weird, but visual learners will know what we mean. Some people are lousy remembering concepts, but they can tell you many things related to the textbook where they found it. They can say where to find it or what font was used on the page.
As random as it looks, this makes total sense. When you are a visual learner, you make an image in your mind, and youll stick with it, so take advantage of it! This method works like this, assign a color of a concept category, and make your own symbology. For example:
Red: Crucial concept
Once you have a clear understanding of your own system, your study sessions will become easier. By recognizing the nature of the information you need, you can recall a color and find the ones you have associated with inside your mind.
- Why it Works: colors are easier to remember than entire pieces of information, so they become an effective method to recall concepts.
- Best used for: when you need to make sense of large pieces of text or books, this method will give you a sense of organization and help you find key information more easily.
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Try Learning In The Afternoon
Even if you think you function better in the morning or late at night, studies show that its easier to retain information if you learn it and review it in the afternoon. A study published in the Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research proved this theory. 68 undergraduate participants were provided with words to remember. One group was asked to only study in the morning while the other group only studied in the afternoon. The results concluded that, The subjects who acquired information in the afternoon had better performance than those who acquired it in the morning.
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Predict Whether You Will Actually Remember What You Want To Remember
Sounds odd, I know. But this 2011 study published in Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology shows the simple act of asking yourself whether you will remember something significantly improves the odds that you will remember, in some cases by as much as 50 percent.
That’s especially true for remembering things you want to do, like prospective memories. Prospective memories involve remembering to perform a planned action, or recall a planned intention, at some point in the future.
Like remembering to praise an employee, email a customer, or implement a schedule change.
Why this works is somewhat unclear. Maybe the act of predicting is a little like testing yourself research shows that quizzing yourself is an extremely effective way to speed up the learning process. What is clear is that the act helps your hippocampus better form and index those episodic memories for later access.
So if you want to remember to do something in the future, take a second and predict whether you will remember.
Science says that act alone makes it more likely you will.
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Simple Memory Tips And Tricks
In addition to visual and spatial memory techniques, there are many others tricks you can use to help your brain remember information. Here are some simple tips to try. Check out this video from the Learning Center for a quick explanation of many of these tips.
Try to understand the information first. Information that is organized and makes sense to you is easier to memorize. If you find that you dont understand the material, spend some time on understanding it before trying to memorize it.
Link it. Connect the information you are trying to memorize to something that you already know. Material in isolation is more difficult to remember than material that is connected to other concepts. If you cannot think of a way to connect the information to something you already know, make up a crazy connection. For example, say you are trying to memorize the fact that water at sea level boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, and 212 happens to be the first three digits of your best friends phone number. Link these two by imagining throwing your phone into a boiling ocean. Its a crazy link, but it can help that fact to stick.
Sleep on it. Studies show that your brain processes and stores information while you sleep. Try to review information just before you go to sleepeven if its only for a few minutesand see if it helps embed the information in your memory.
Use Mental Associations To Improve Memory Power
When you come across a new piece of information, your brain subconsciously also picks up any images, sounds or physical feelings that were occurring at the same time. This means that you can improve memory if you actively associate an image, sound or a feeling to what youre learning. For instance, youre more likely to remember a great weekend with your friends when you think about what you were wearing, the conversations you had, and your feelings of happiness. Use any of these four mental association techniques to improve memory retention:
Keyword mnemonics: Improve memory for exams by creating mental associations to the information you are trying to learn using keyword mnemonics. This technique involves choosing a keyword or an image that compels you to think of a word. For example, if you want to remember the French word for star, which is étoile, you could think of a towel in English.
Chunking: Additionally, you could also try chunking. This involves breaking down number phrases of words into manageable pieces of information. For instance, onomatopoeia can become three separate phrases of onom, atop, eia. You could also try creating an acronym or rhyme to remember elements within the periodic table. Think Fresh Prince of Bel Air!
Songs: Are you having a hard time learning those physics equations? Try associating the equations with songs to improve memory and brain function.
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How Are Memories Made
Memories are made in three distinct stages. It starts with encoding. Encoding is the way external stimuli and information make their way into your brain. This could occur through any of your five senses.
The next stage is storage, where the information we take in is stored either briefly, like with sensory and short term memory, or more permanently, like with long term memory.
The final stage is recall. Recall is our ability to retrieve the memory weve made from where it is stored. These processes are also how sensory memory might be turned into short-term memory or short-term memory into long-term memory.
External Vs Internal Memory Strategies
External memory strategies refer to everyday objects that we use in order to remind us to do things. These could be calendars, to-do lists, written reminders, or even putting things in places that we often check, such as the fridge.
Internal memory strategies are mental techniques that we use to train our brains to remember information that we have learned. Internal memory strategies are what you will need in order to better remember the material that you studied before taking a test.
Lets take a look at some useful internal memory strategies the next time you have an important test coming up!
Photo by Craig Adderley from Pexels
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Self Assessment By Giving Tests
Self-assessment is an indispensable tactic that students must follow. Self-assessment means check yourself whether you have remembered that chapter or not. For assessment, you should give a model test. There are many apps and websites that are available on which students can enroll and give tests.
Tests will help you to analyze how much you have retained from the earlier study. Students can improve their performance and increase their learning pace by self-assessment.
Create A Learning Schedule
To be able to assess, how much time you might need to learn the full material, you should separate it into chunks, see how many of them you have, and estimate the amount of time you need for each of them . In the end, you get the total number of hours you need for learning.
Then, knowing how many days you have, you can plan your learning schedule. Try not to leave learning of some material for the last day. You might have unexpected tasks, and you wont be able to stick to the plan for one or two days. Better to have some time reserve.
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The Major System In Action
Heres a quick example of the Major System in action. Say you need to remember the following phone number: 535-867-5309. Here are the steps you might use to encode and later retrieve it:
Using the Major System on its own is useful for remembering short numbers, but it gets really powerful when you combine it with the Method of Loci. You could split an incredibly long number into several 10-digit chunks, create a story for each one, and then bind that story to an item in your memory palace.
The Method of Loci helps you easily remember the order of your stories, and the stories likewise help you remember the order of the numbers. In fact, this combination of techniques is how many memory champions learn to memorize hundreds of digits of pi.
Drink Coffee To Improve Your Memory Consolidation
Whether caffeine can improve memory if taken before learning something new is debatable. Most research has found little-to-no effect from ingesting caffeine prior to creating new memories. One recent study, however, found that taking a caffeine pill after a learning task actually improved memory recall up to 24 hours later.
Participants memorized a set of images, and were later tested by viewing the same images , similar images and completely different images . The task was to pick out which were the exact pictures they had memorized, without being tricked by the lures which were very similar. This is a process called pattern separation, which, according to the researchers, reflects a deeper level of memory retention.
The researchers in this study focused on the effects of caffeine on memory consolidation: the process of strengthening the memories weve created. This is why they believe there were effects when caffeine was ingested after the learning task, rather than before.
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No Willpower Enlist The Help Of An App
Apps like Focus Booster and AntiSocial have your back!
AntiSocial blocks your access to a selection of websites with a timer that you select.
Focus Booster is a mobile phone app that relies on the Pomodoro Technique, where you work intensively for 25 minutes and then you break for five minutes. The app also includes productivity reports and revenue charts.
Spaced Repetition For Memory Improvement
Heres a well-known fact about memory the more you reinforce something, the easier it becomes for your brain to recall it.
In the spaced repetition method, you practice remembering at the right time. The simplest way to apply this memory method is to use flashcards when you study.
While going through your flashcards, divide them into three bundles. If you remember something clearly, those cards go into the Easy pile. You dont have to study those flashcards again for a week or two.
If you moderately remember something, keep it in the Medium pile and revisit it after a few hours or a day. And if you cannot remember something at all, place it in Hard and study it again within the next 10 minutes.
Simple, and yet effective! At least lot more effective than spaced-repetition software.
And if youre in the Magnetic Memory Method Masterclass, youll know how to combine the cards with the Memory Palace.
In brief: Anytime you have words that are Medium or Hard, include them in a Memory Palace.
Then, use all of the Magnetic Modes to create Magnetic Imagery that helps you remember the target information. That will make the information on your cards far easier to recall.
Yours Free: A Private Course With Cheat Sheets For Becoming A Memory Master, Starting From Scratch. > > > .
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Try Acronyms Abbreviations And Mnemonics
Mnemonic devices can be in the form of acronyms, abbreviations, songs, or rhymes.
Mnemonics have been tested since the 1960s as an effective strategy for students. Youve probably been taught a few mnemonic devices for remembering long lists. For example, the colors of the spectrum can be remembered with the name ROY G. BIV .
The Solution Is Spacing
Your brain may be wired to forget a lot of information, but luckily theres a way to combat that tendency. Hermann Ebbinghaus, a pioneer in the field of memory science, discovered that our rate of memory decline falls each time we reinforce information that we previously learned. He called this the spacing effect.
You can use the spacing effect to your advantage by using spaced repetition to memorize information. Instead of absorbing a large amount of information at once and trying to hang onto it, spaced repetition entails breaking that information into small chunks and reinforcing it consistently over an extended period of time.
Not only has the spaced repetition method been proven to combat the forgetting curve, but it makes the task of memorization less intimidating by breaking down the seemingly impossible task of memorization into manageable chunks.
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