Important Memory Tips And Tricks To Help You Remember Things At Work And In Life

by Hank Coleman

I notoriously have a bad memory.  My wife always picks on me and complains about it.  I don’t know what my problem is.  It is actually a curse and a blessing in a strange way.  I can forget about some of the most unimportant things that people always recall like the time Jim wore blue dress shoes with a black suit.  I just do not care and quickly forget about nonessential things.  But, I also forget things that I shouldn’t like people’s names, directions to a location when I drive, important dates, my wife and children’s social security numbers, what my wife was wearing when I asked her to marry me, etc.

auguste-rodin-the-thinkerThis past month, I got a new job in my company.  While I only have three people who report directly to me, I am ultimately in charge and responsible for a 105 person organization within the company.  I would love to tell you that I know everyone’s name by heart, where they are from, their spouses’ names, whether they have children or not, etc.  But, I don’t.  Of course, this is only my third week on the job, but I still know only a few more names than the day I started.  It is important to me to learn these things and remember them.  So, even though this is not exactly personal finance related, I thought that I would share some of the best memory tips that I have managed to find.  Hopefully, these tips will help us all do better at work, make more money, and most importantly impress our wives.

Great Memory Tips and Tricks…

  • Introduce yourself first when you meet someone.  That way you can focus on the other person when they tell you their name.
  • Connect the name to others you know with the same name.  If you meet a guy name John, think of all the other Johns you know in your life.
  • Connect the name to a thing.  One of my bosses’ names was Foster, and I always think of “Australian for Beer” in order to remember it.  Associating names with identifiable attributes will help you remember
  • Use the name three times during your first conversation.  Confirm that you heard the name correctly, use it during the conversation, and then use it again when you are leaving.
  • People remember 20% of what they hear, 75% of what they read, and 90% of what they do.  If you are trying to memorize a long piece of text, walk around.  Most people remember more when they are moving and active.
  • Another way of making something memorable is to use a mnemonic. For example, “Every good boy deserves fudge” stands for the lines of the treble cleft in music: E, G, B, D, F.  The military uses this technique quite a bit too.
  • Chunking works well for long strings of numbers like bank cards.  The human mind can remember about 7 things at a time, give or take a couple, so if you are given a string of 15 numbers, it is easier for you to remember chunks of it than the whole string.  I used to do this with my social security number.  I would remember it like a football snap sequence.  25-64-23-34 hut!
  • Reviewing what you have learned over time helps you remember it.  The pathway established deteriorates. Review it one hour later, one day later, one week later, one month later, and again three months later, and you will be well on your way to remembering.

Most of what we learn is forgotten within 24 hours.  Short term memory is only about 30 seconds long, anything longer does have the potential to stay – pathways are being built. So, if you can remember something for more than 30 seconds, you are well on your way to keeping it in mind longer.

But remember what Albert Schweitzer the theologian, musician, philosopher, and physician said, “Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.”  Sometimes a bad memory definitely works in my favor.

Did I miss any of your favorite memory aids?  Please leave a comment and share it with the rest of us.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Lucia July 6, 2009 at 4:40 pm

There’s a program called Evernote that helps me remember things. Its doesn’t help so much with memory, but more of capturing things you want to remember for later.

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