Memory Trouble? How to Remember Better

We’ve all been there. A familiar face comes into view, a friendly hand extends towards us, and we reach out for a shake. The person calls us by our first name, now it’s our turn.

Our mind races. “Frank? Ben? Definitely Ben. Or was it Brad? Definitely began with “B”, maybe Bill?”

Being bad at remembering names is a relatively mild social faux pas, but the consequences of a poor memory and bad information retention can go far beyond embarrassing moments by the water cooler. Over time it decimates productivity and in the wrong situation can potentially lead to disaster.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways in which we can go about being better at remembering things and retaining information. While the ability to possess total recall may not be attainable for most, it’s safe to say that with a little adjustment to their daily routines, everyone can get better at remembering.

Here are some ideas to help improve your memory trouble and remember better.

Get Assistance

The phrase “too much information” has new meaning in the 21st century. Due to the substantial growth of the internet and speed at which data can be shared, humans today are overloaded with information. It’s simply more than the brain can handle without losing sight of some of the finer details.

A second brain is needed to help people keep track of all the information zooming by on a daily basis. While we aren’t quite to the point of having back-up brain technology, apps like Evernote are providing an effective substitute in the meantime. Keeping digital notes assembled in a variety of formats provides a way for an individual to log the things he or she is typically too busy to effectively commit to memory. Later on, when the notes are reviewed, the ideas and inspiration which would have previously been lost are revived and readily available.

Get Some Sleep

Unsurprisingly, sleep is vital to strong memory. During REM sleep, the brain consolidates thoughts and interactions experienced throughout the previous day. If a person is unable to achieve REM sleep on a regular basis, their brain is essentially unable to effectively archive short-term memory into long-term retention.

Taking steps to improve quality of sleep is critical to being better at remembering things. Put the phone away an hour before bedtime. Eat your last meal three hours before bedtime. Go to bed and wake up at times that coordinate with a healthy sleep cycle. Do this, and after a month it’s all but assured memory will be improved.

Find Your Trick

According to Harvard Medical School, simple tricks can vastly improve the ability to remember details. Maybe it’s repeating information out loud several times or making associations between new information and more familiar things to have a better chance of retention. Whatever your trick, find it and use it.

Drink Some Coffee

Debate lingers as to whether or not caffeine consumed prior to learning helps with retaining information.  But one study suggests caffeine ingested after a learning experience will improve memory consolidation. With that in mind, it might prove beneficial to drink a cup of coffee right after an important business meeting or networking event.

Diet & Exercise

Lastly, there is no denying the relationship between memory health and physical health. The foods we eat and the levels of exercise we engage in on a regular basis will influence our ability to retain information. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fat are shown to be linked with lower rates of Alzheimer’s and mild cognitive impairment. Exercising four hours after an important learning experience has also been shown by research cited by HMS to improve one’s ability to remember.

Part of the reason we have trouble remembering things is that there is simply so much to remember these days. With that said, simple steps can be taken to make ourselves be better at remembering. We just have to remember to try them!