5 Easy Tricks for Improving Your Memory (PHOTOS)

5 tips for improving your memory

Do you spend hours per week just trying to remember where you left your car keys? Have you ever exited the grocery store without the one item you went in to purchase? Did you recently meet someone and instantly forget their name?

If these things have happened to you, you're not alone. 

The good news, according to Tim David, author of Memory Improvement Tips: Simple Tricks to Help You Increase Your Memory, Reduce Brain Farts, and Improve Your Mental Health, is that by making a few simple changes, you can easily get back on track and be less forgetful. 

"First and foremost, stop believing you have a terrible memory," says David. "It like that old saying, 'Whether you think you can or you can't, you're right.' It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and because we tell ourselves we have a bad memory, we don't engage the right parts of our brains."

He offers the following 5 tips for improving your memory.

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Do you have any tricks for remembering things? 


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  • Pay Attention

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    How many times have you been introduced to someone and seconds later can't remember their name? David explains that this is not as uncommon as you might think. Because we're busy assessing the new person and reading their body language, all the while continuing to be polite and friendly, we've very distracted. 

    In addition to simply paying more attention, David says, there are a few tricks that will help reinforce your new acquaintance's name.

    "If it's an unusual name, you can ask, 'How do you spell that?' If it's a long name, you can say, 'Is that what you prefer to be called?' or 'Do you have a nickname?' Also, if it's loud and you simply didn't hear it, don't be embarrassed to have them repeat it. Saying it again will reinforce it and help you retain it."

  • Stop Relying on Devices

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    Your brain is like a muscle, David notes, so exercise it! By relying on technology and smartphones, we're not giving our brains a workout, and as a result, we're able to remember less and less on our own. 

    In the 1950s, cognitive psychologist Dr. George Miller conducted experiments and determined that the "magical number" a person could retain in his or her working memory is seven, plus or minus two, the author explains.

    That's why phone numbers and Social Security numbers aren't difficult to recall, David says. But as we increase our reliance on technology and devices, that number is shrinking to four, he explains, clearly making a case for "use it or lose it."

  • Convert Short-Term Memories Into Long-Term Memories

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    Let's say you're headed to the grocery store and want to remember a list of 10 items. David suggests tapping into those things that make remembering easy: rhyming, alliteration, and music.

    The memory expert recommends taking your list and making an association to something that's easy to recall. For example, let's say you need to pick up a head of lettuce. Make an association to something as simple as that childhood song, "This Old Man ..." 

    "Think of the 'he played knick knack on my thumb' line and visualize a head of lettuce growing out of your thumb. The more bizarre, the better because you're more likely to remember it," David says.

  • Develop a Habit

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    Something as easy to misplace as your keys should always have a designated spot, David says. Then, if you find yourself not putting them in that place, make a note of it by telling yourself, "My keys are over here." Saying it aloud can help it stick and you're more likely to remember it later.

    "Whenever you deviate from the habit, you should tell yourself," David notes. "Being aware of it, going back to that paying attention, can help you remember."

  • Use Your ABCs

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    Image via iStock/RuthBlack

    How frustrating is it to have a name or word on the tip of your tongue yet you can't recall it? David says if you're struggling with these issues from time to time, put the alphabet to work for you.

    "Think to yourself, 'Did it start with an 'A'?' ... Go through the whole alphabet if you have to to jog your memory, and through process of elimination, very often the name or word will come to you," he says.

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