It’s 1999 and my dad just bought the new Nokia 3210.
This phone is now a dinosaur, but back then that baby was so slick.
But that’s not the point now.
The point is, in late 90’s everyone seemed to have one super power. Memory.
Even though people had phones, everyone was able to remember and recall at least 30 phone numbers.
Not only just phone numbers, but it seemed that everybody knew when your birthday was and so did you know for everyone else.
There was no Facebook back then, no reminders, people just knew.
2 reasons why your memory is suffering
So what’s the deal here? How is it that our memory got that bad?
Reason #1: Technology made life easier
It gave us a perfect excuse to abuse our memory (no rhyme intended – I am not that slick).
Every day we need to process a flood of irrelevant information, and our attention span is reduced to such a low level that even a goldfish can beat us at the memory contest.
We need to command intake and storage of information.
We need to make a memory improvement our priority.
We do that by deciding what we want to focus on.
Reason #2: We allowed technology to do that
The truth is, it’s not too late. You can use the technology to improve your memory.
First, we need to stop focusing on things that don’t matter.
Ask yourself: how does knowing what Kardashians are up to helps me or gives me any value whatsoever?
3 superior techniques to improve your memory
Once you pick the relevant info to focus on, you can try the following techniques to improve your memory capacity.
Technique #1: Mind palace
Mind Palace is a method of memory enhancement which uses visualization to organize and recall information.
The idea is to imagine information through various associations and store them within your Mind Palace.
How it works:
First, define what place you will use for your Mind Palace. You have two options:
You have two options:
- Existing place you are familiar with (like a childhood home or a school)
- Designing your place (you don’t have to be an expert in drawing)
I would recommend that you use something that you know quite well.
After you this is to design a blueprint or to put it simply the outline of your Mind Palace.
My example: I used my high school for my Mind Palace, and I drew two floors (each had 19 rooms) and listed down how would I go from one room to another and so on.
Once you have the visual outline, start exploring it so you can memorize every detail of it. This means that you sit back, close your eyes and imagine yourself in your Mind Palace.
These are the couple of guiding questions to help you design your Mind Palace:
How does it look like?
How many rooms does it have?
How can I walk from one to another?
What objects do I have in each room?
Where are those items placed?
At this point, you should be quite familiar with your Mind Palace. The next thing is to learn how to use it.
The way you store information is simple. Your job is to create interesting associations or symbols for things you want to remember.
Once you do, you should place them in a specific room or link it to a specific object in that room.
Associations / Symbols should be simple, clear and memorable. If they are weird or sexual, it will make it easier for your brain to remember.
Example: If you want to remember that you need to buy an airline ticket, you could picture 3 flight attendants in your room with banners that say, “Baby, please don’t forget to get your ticket!”
Trust me, you won’t forget that.
The idea is to start small and keep practicing. In time, you will become proficient, and it will be easier to create associations.
Use your Mind Palace for things that matter to you. There are no rules.
If you think you won’t have enough space to store information, don’t worry. Just build another palace, you can have an entire city if you wish.
Technique #2: Mind screen
Mind Screen is a concept that I developed and have been using every day ever since (#bragging).
The idea is simple: think of it as your private theater screen where you can project whatever you want to memorize, without limitations.
How it works:
Picture yourself in an empty movie theater. You can design it in any way you want. Mine is usually white.
I usually stand in front of the screen. This screen is yours, and you can project on it whatever you need to memorize.
The idea is that you can manipulate the screen, just like in the futuristic movies. You can expand items, make them bigger or smaller. Move them from one side to another. Add items to them.
How you can use it to memorize important pieces of information:
If someone tells me that s/he comes from California, I imagine a pop up next to them which says: “California.”
We continue the conversation and s/he mentions s/he studied at a Law school. I make another pop up: “Law School”, and so on. You get the idea.
Same thing with important information about a specific project. I just imagine the core idea of the project on the screen.
Someone says we got a deadline; I just put the date next to the project.
I just hear ‘Pop.’ Resources. ‘Pop.’
The important thing here is to play around with it, and see how it fits you.
I’ve found a way to link my Mind Palace and Mind Screen, so even though I am at the moment and need to work fast, I project items on the screen and, later on, move them to my palace.
Technique #3: Mind map
A mind map is a diagram used to visually organize information.
A mind map is often created around a single concept, drawn as an image in the center of a blank page, to which associated representations of ideas such as images, words, and parts of words are added.
Major ideas are connected directly to the central concept, and other ideas branch out from those.
How it works:
This is quite a popular mnemonic device.
The way it works is to have one core idea, and you start to organize other ideas around it, like branches.
Try to make it vivid, with colors, drawings or symbols that mean something to you or that represent a specific idea. Once you need to recall certain information, you just follow the branch until you find what information you are looking for.
This is something that requires practice (especially for us that don’t know how to draw properly) or you can use a variety of software tools (most of them are free for basic use).
Mind map is a very systematic approach to organizing information and can be used in different ways and together with other mnemonic devices.
Remember that memory isn’t something you develop once and you’re done.
It’s a process that lasts for a lifetime. As your memory declines, you have to put more effort to make sure that it is still working like a charm.
But trust me, even if your memory is fine, improving it will bring you amazing results. You will be astonished.
Those are several techniques you can experiment with. Let me know in the comments below how you applied it.