Tag Archives: Forgetfulness

A Memory Champion’s Best Mental Trick for Remembering Where You Put Your Keys

If you’re tired of misplacing your keys around the house, this explosive memory trick will help you remember. All you need is a little imagination.

In this video from the Business Insider YouTube channel, Ron White, world record holder and two-time National Memory Champion, shares his trick for keeping his keys from getting lost. White suggests we misplace keys and other everyday objects because we go on mental autopilot, especially after a long day. To combat that, you need to find a way to focus on the moment you set something down.

For keys, White recommends you imagine they’re a small bomb that goes off wherever you toss them. For example, if you stick them on the counter, imagine a chunk of the counter top getting blasted out and your cabinets catching fire. This makes your brain focus on the moment of placement and associates a visual memory with a distinct physical location. After all, you can’t imagine how your coffee table might blow up if your brain doesn’t take a moment to study the environment first. Now when you need your keys, you’ll go “Oh yeah, I blew up the nightstand a few hours ago.”


A national memory champion explains how to never misplace your keys ever again | YouTube

The Two Factors that Make You Forgetful

The Two Factors that Make You Forgetful

We’re all a little forgetful sometimes. Whether that’s forgetting to do an errand or losing your keys, it’s easy to get frustrated when you forget something simple. However, as The Wall Street Journal points out, two different factors tend to make us forget things, and they’re pretty easy to correct for.

There are all kinds of reasons why we might forget something. Stress, fatigue, and multitasking all play a part, but when it comes to actually forming that memory of where something it is, it’s about two things:

That breakdown can occur in two spots: when we fail to activate our memory and encode what we’re doing—where we put down our keys or glasses—or when we try to retrieve the memory. When you encode a memory, the hippocampus, a central part of the brain involved in memory function, takes a snapshot which is preserved in a set of neurons, says Kenneth Norman, a psychology professor at Princeton University. Those neurons can be activated later with a reminder or cue.

It is important to pay attention when you put down an item, or during encoding. If your state of mind at retrieval is different than it was during encoding, that could pose a problem. Case in point: You were starving when you walked into the house and deposited your keys. When you then go to look for them later, you’re no longer hungry so the memory may be harder to access.

Of course, all kinds of difference interferences exist, and solving for them isn’t always easy. Reminders and to-dos are obviously helpful, as is retracing your steps. Other tips include saying an action out loud as your doing it ("I’m putting my phone in the dresser"), visualizing environmental cues, and more.

Why We Keep Losing Our Keys | The Wall Street Journal

Photo by Michael Gil.