memory, forgetting, brain, exercise, strategy

Supersize your memory

Where is that thing? What am I doing in this room? Why am I holding this? What day of the week is it? How many hours do we waste trying to remember?

Well, just imagine if your stairs could nudge you when you had to book in an MOT and your TV could trigger a work deadline reminder. No, this is not a superwired Alexa household. This is a method as old as the hills which can apparently supersize your memory, say scientists from Radboud University Medical Centre in the Netherlands. Not just improve. Supersize.

Here’s a summary: Memory isn’t in-built. Even true memory athletes (yes, that is a thing, you are probably not one) weren’t born that way. Often they were sieve-brains who learned memory techniques to get by and then BOOM they were reciting Chaucer backwards.

All you need is a memory training strategy. Scientists recommend the loci or ‘memory palace’ technique for starters. Goodbye ‘Where’s my… oh there it is.’ Hello Sherlock. People who used this went from remembering 26 words from a list of 72 to more than 60, in six weeks. Here’s how it works.

  1. Pick somewhere familiar like your home, walk to work, route to the pub, whatever works. Use each location along the way (stairs, lamp post) as a place to park information. These visual signposts are going to be vital prompts for you when you come to remembering all the stuff.
  2. Take each thing you’re trying to remember and visualise putting it into a specific location (hygienist appointment by printer, strategy presentation by the postbox). Ignore general chaos, just focus on the signposts you’ve created.
  3. Take a mental tour around the mind palace you’ve created reminding yourself of everything so it’s all in order.
  4. When something is niggling but you can’t get a hold on what needs doing, take a walk around and pick up each memory as you go. Just don’t get lost. That could be incredibly mad.
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