Memory helps with everyday tasks, such as remembering what to get at the grocery store or the telephone number of a friend. As easy as it sometimes seems to remember things, though, forgetting often seems even easier. Fortunately, some tricks can help cement things in memory.
Chunking means taking a topic and splitting it into smaller, more easily remembered pieces. These pieces then fit together to make the whole topic. Telephone numbers are examples of information remembered by using chunking, with the longer number split into more manageable numbers of two or three chunks.
When trying to remember a long list of things, it may help to separate them into categories. This will reduce the number of things you need to remember, thus increasing your chance of recalling the information. This method works extremely well with grocery lists, since you can easily separate groceries into categories. Milk, eggs and cheese go in the dairy category, while ground beef and ham would go in the meat category. You now only need to remember two categories instead of remembering five separate items.
According to Harvard Medical School, the more senses involved in learning something, the easier it will be to remember. Involving your senses means more areas of your brain are actively engaged in learning the information, which increases chances of recalling information. A perfect example of this is the way odors can conjure thoughts of the past.
Visualizing information improves chances of remembering the information by “creating a strong vivid memory,” says the Office of Academic Advising at Saint John’s University. If you’re trying to remember an important date in history, picturing the scene in your mind may prove effective. Likewise, if you’re trying to remember a list of groceries, picturing yourself shopping and picking up each individual item may help you recall the items when you’re at the store.
Things of significance to you are less likely to be forgotten. A helpful way to remember something is to find the importance of the information and apply it to yourself or a situation you view as important. For example, recalling wedding dates tends to be relatively easy for most women due to the importance of the wedding in a woman’s life.
Mnemonic techniques aid memory by associating information with a name or phrase. According to the American Psychological Association, this technique improves learning and memory. “Every Good Boy Does Fine” is an example of a mnemonic technique used to recall the musical notes on the treble clef.