Friday, 4 September 2015

Stop losing your stuff; Tips on how to boost your practical memory

If you are one of those people who seems to regularly misplace things like your keys, wallet or phone, you might benefit from boosting your memory skills.

Calls for replacement car keys in Nottingham or wherever else you happen to be in the UK are an everyday occurrence and not really surprising when you consider that the average person is believed to misplace up to nine different items per day.

Keys, mobile phones and documents are the main things that we are likely to spend about 15 minutes of each day searching for on average and sometimes, we simply can’t remember where we last saw them or left them.


Hardwired for memory lapses

Apparently we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves as our genes are partially responsible for these memory lapses that we suffer on a regular basis and although it can get worse with age, it is considered to be quite normal behaviour.

Bi-products of modern life such as fatigue, stress and the need to multi-task can only serve to exacerbate our tendency to make errors and according to a psychology professor at Harvard University no less, it is the breakdown at the interface of attention and memory that results in losing or misplacing your keys and other such items.

Professor Daniel L. Schacter is also the author of The Seven Sins of Memory and provides a good explanation in his book on how our memory plays tricks on us, including expanding on his observation about the breakdown between attention and memory.

Activating our memory

If you want to avoid misplacing items on such a regular basis, you will need to learn how to activate your memory and encode what you are doing such as putting your keys down somewhere, so that you can retrieve that memory when you need them again.

If you have just arrived home and thinking about food for example, it seems our brain might link the memory on where you put your keys down with your hunger. This means that when you are no longer hungry, you might actually have a problem retrieving the information on where you left your keys.

Boosting your practical memory

One trick that helps to boost your memory is to be mindful of your actions, which means being conscious of doing something like putting down your keys, so that you can retrieve that memory created when you need it.

Another good tip is to try to learn how to visualise what you need to remember.

Our brains are visual which is why it is often easier to recall something you have seen rather than a set of numbers that have been given verbally to you for example. This means that if you decide to put your keys on a shelf, take a moment to look at the shelf so that you create a visual connection between your keys and the shelf, and recall that image so you remember where you left them rather than spending time looking elsewhere.

Work on strengthening your mental cues and creating mental pictures, so hopefully you might not spend so long each day looking for misplaced items like your keys.

Andy Allen has a senior role within the automotive industry. He enjoys being able to share his insights and observations online. You can find his thoughts on a variety of related topics across a number of different websites.

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