Everyone who takes the memory test is interested to know how good their memory is. However, the real question is how can I improve my memory ?
There's certainly no shortage of books available on how to improve your memory. Many actually contain much the same advice and most of them are fairly obvious. Whether it's remembering names at a wedding or facts and figures for a business presentation, improving your memory is always important.
The Memory Test has taken a look through some of the most popular ideas and here's a summary of what we have found.
Firstly, get out and about and exercise. Even taking a short walk in the morning can get the blood flowing and make all the difference to how you approach your day. Your ability to focus on detail will be better and you will be less distracted.
There's plenty of advice that states that you need 30 minutes / 40 minutes per day of good exercise. Most people probably don't get that close but anything that raises your heart rate will make a difference. Take the stairs instead of the lift. Walk the long way home as fast as you can.
This is never going to be easy. There are more books and information on what is a good diet and what's isn't than space to keep them. To keep it simple:
1. Avoid foods high in saturated fat such as meat, cheese or cream. 2. Eat more fruit and vegetables
Yes, we know. Five a day and so on. But the chances are you aren't eating anywhere near enough fruit and vegetables so even adding an apple to your lunch or some peas with your dinner is going to help.
Most people eat far too much meat. Let's be honest, if you go to a restaurant you aren't likely to order the vegetarian option unless you are actually a veggie. However, aiming to reduce your meat intake to one meal a day instead of two would go a long way. If you are really asking yourself 'how can I improve my memory ?' then think about that next time you choose your sandwich.
The process by which the brain absorbs what has happened during the day into your long term memory is well documented. The key for this happening properly is good, solid sleep.
Apart from the fact that you will feel physically better the next day, the brain will be able to shut down properly and organise the events of the day.
Exercising your brain is well documented and a common approach. Simply make sure that on a day to day basis that you use it. Consider the number of days that you get up, get ready for work, go to work - perhaps even finish your day's work - where you haven't really challenged your brain. You simply go through the motions.
Have you ever driven the car somewhere, arrived and can't quite remember the journey you made ? That's because your brain switched into auto-pilot and you do things without thinking. This is what we are trying to avoid. The ability to push your brain so that it's being used as much as possible even during everyday events is the key.
The first method here is taking tests such as this Memory Test or taking a general knowledge quiz or similar. Doing crosswords and puzzles helps of course. There are some who consider that playing computer games is essentially exercising your brain and working it better than sitting in front of the tv. These small events can fire up those old grey cells and get them talking to each other. It is important.
However, an even better approach is that to maximise the exercise, it's about applying your brain as much as you can during everyday life. Even the small things can make a difference. Say you meet someone on a trade show stand talking about a product. They mention their name and you promptly forget. Don't. Make a conscious point of remembering it. If you are driving to work in traffic and pass a few roads on your way. Make a point of noting the names of the roads and test yourself the next time you go past. What was the cost of the last litre/gallon of fuel you put in your car ? Can you remember ?
It's this little bits of memory exercise that keep expanding and testing your brain. Keeps it functioning.
Another area where there are books and books and books is techniques and tricks to help improve your memory recall. This isn't the place to go into every single one but we will focus on one particular technique - association.
This is where you relate a particular item that you are trying to remember to something else in an attempt to improve your recall. So, let's say for example you meet someone and they tell you their name is John. You know you will quickly forget that their name is John. Which means that next time you see them you will visually recall their face but not be able to put a name to it. What you do is relate something about that person to their name - typically something quite generic. Let's assume that the person in question somehow reminds you of a cowboy. Now, don't remember that person as John, remember them as a cowboy. In particular, relate them John Wayne (the definitive cowboy). Therefore, when you see that person you think what's his name and you forget. You then think about cowboys, connect that to John Wayne and remember the name John. And hopefully don't call them John Wayne unless that is actually their full name.
This might not be the best example ever but you get the general idea.
There's a lot of new discussion about how to keep the brain in good working order. The idea that you can exercise your brain is nothing new but how you do that best is always up for debate.
One factor that has a lot of ground is that the brain needs to be challenged. You need to feed it new things to keep it working to it's full potential. In short, routine creates rot !
So trying something new can stimulate the brain in ways that create new strength. There are differing comments on this but let's consider three approaches.
For example, you might be a crossword wizard and do the crossword every day. So tomorrow, instead of doing the crossword, try Sudoku. The switch in the logic is the trigger and while both might involve sitting down and thinking - the thinking is different and requires a different type of logical thought. It's a small chance but it's a break with the routine and keeps your brain on it's toes.
The second example is to try something new completely. The easiest way to do this is to do a new hobby but not one that's immediately obvious. That doesn't mean that if you play football you take up tennis. It means that if you play football you do a pottery course. It doesn't have to be creative. It can be a language course, a first aid course, even a wine tasting event. (Bearing in mind that wine taken in moderation contains anti-oxidants which are good for the brain.)
The third example is slightly more dramatic. Essentially, it involves taking you outside your comfort zone completely and challenging you. Eleanor Roosevelt apparently said 'Do one thing every day that scares you.'. Whether she actually did is up for debate but the sentiment here is clear. It's about really putting yourself in a position where you aren't comfortable. This can take many forms. Maybe you do your first presentation. Maybe you do that red ski run instead of your usual blue. (Blue instead of green for our North American readers). Go up in a glider or simply run into the sea naked at midnight for a swim. Anything that makes you feel that probably shouldn't be doing it. (Note that Memorytest.me accept no responsibility for any injuries that may occur trying anything like this :-))