The Best Ways to Remember Things

by Jessica Taylor

Memory can be a tricky thing. People of all ages often have trouble remembering things, from the answers to test questions to where they left their car keys. Knowing a few tips and tricks can improve your memory. Employing memorization techniques, such as mnemonic devices and efficient note taking, will give your brain a workout while also increasing your ability to remember things.

Mnemonic Devices

Mnemonic devices are efficient and often fun ways to remember information. Mnemonics create associations using cues such as acronyms. For example, HOMES is an acronym used to remember the names of the Great Lakes. The letters in HOMES stand for Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior. You can also invent sentences where the first letter of each word represents an important fact. For example, to remember the order of notes on sheet music, use the mnemonic device "Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge." The first letter of each word, E, G, B, D and F, are the notes you need to remember. Mnemonic devices can be used to make rhyming associations, such as "In fourteen hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue." Visual cues can be used to connect images to ideas. To remember the name of a person named Mike, for example, imagine him holding a microphone in his hand.

Note Taking

Writing important information is an effective way to remember things, allowing you to look at it later for reference. The act of writing something helps your brain to remember. One study found that students who take notes remember more key facts than those who don't take notes. Writing is in essence a way to re-learn information that your brain has already taken in. For example, when a professor gives you an important fact during a lecture, you hear that fact and your brain absorbs it. If you write the fact after hearing it, then your brain processes that fact a second time in a different way. If you reread your notes, you've allowed your brain to take in the information a third time. Keeping a small notepad in your pocket or purse to jot down important things you need to remember and writing lists when needed will assist you in remembering key information of any kind.

Other Tips

Tips and tricks can be helpful when trying to remember things, but just as important is making sure your brain is healthy and happy. Too much stress can have a negative impact on a person's memory by releasing the stress hormone cortisol and other enzymes that can damage the parts of the brain that control memory. Regular exercise is important for good brain function. Exercise increases blood flow and oxygen to the brain and is also an effective stress reducer. When studying, make sure you do so in an environment conducive to learning. Avoid distractions, such as television, and don't attempt to learn important information when you're tired or hungry.

About the Author

Jessica Taylor has been writing professionally since 2007. She has contributed a number of articles online on topics ranging from fashion to technology to travel. She has a bachelor's degree in English literature from the University of South Florida.

Photo Credits

  • anyaberkut/iStock/Getty Images