Tag Archives: Memorization

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

How Drawing Can Help Improve Your Memory, According to Research

How Drawing Can Help Improve Your Memory, According to Research

If you need help jogging your memory, you might try your hand at drawing. A recent study found that we remember items better when we draw them rather than write them down.

In a study published in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, researchers conducted a series of experiments asking subjects to draw or write down different items. Overall, the study found that subjects were better able to recall the items when they drew them.

For example, in one of the studies, subjects were given a few different tasks with different series of words. They had to either write them down, draw them, visualize them, list attributes of the word, or look at a picture of the word in context. Subjects were more likely to remember the words that were drawn, leading the researchers to conclude:

Together these experiments indicate that drawing enhances memory relative to writing, across settings, instructions, and alternate encoding strategies, both within- and between-participants, and that a deep LoP, visual imagery, or picture superiority, alone or collectively, are not sufficient to explain the observed effect. We propose that drawing improves memory by encouraging a seamless integration of semantic, visual, and motor aspects of a memory trace.

To put these findings into practice, New York Magazine suggests drawing your to-do list. This can help you remember what you have to do and stay focused on those tasks throughout the day. This tip may also be useful for studying, though, and creating a visual mind map can help with brainstorming projects, too.


Of course, this is just one study, and your own results might vary, but it’s worth a shot. Overall, it may help certain ideas and concepts stick. For more information, check out the links below.

The drawing effect: Evidence for reliable and robust memory benefits in free recall | The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology via NY Magazine

Photo by StartupStockPhotos.

Protect Your Short Term Memory by Avoiding the “Fluency” Trap

Protect Your Short Term Memory by Avoiding the "Fluency" Trap

If you’ve ever forgotten something immediately after learning it, you’ve probably experienced “fluency.” With this simple trick, you can counteract your brief memory loss and avoid any negative consequences.

Henry Roediger and Mark McDaniel, psychologists at Washington University and coauthors of Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning, explain that something called “fluency” can mess with your mind when you’re trying to remember the things you’re seeing. Essentially, it’s that feeling you get when you’re reading something and you quickly glance over it because you automatically assume it will be easy to remember. Drake Baer at Business Insider gives an example:

Say, for instance, you’re at the airport and you’re trying to remember which gate your flight to Chicago is waiting for you at. You look at the terminal monitors — it’s B44. You think to yourself, Oh, B44, that’s easy. Then you walk away, idly check your phone, and instantly forget where you’re going.

To avoid the fluency trap in that situation, you should read the gate number, turn away from the monitor, and ask yourself “what’s the gate number?” Now you’ll either recall the number or realize you looked at it and never actually committed it to memory. The same thing can happen with learning people’s names. They can go in one ear and out the other if you’re not careful. You can’t always prevent fluency from happening, but you can avoid it’s negative effects if you’re aware of it.


4 strategies for remembering everything you learn | Business Insider

Photo by Keenan Pepper.

Why You Shouldn’t Trust Your Brain to Remember Something’s Color

Why You Shouldn’t Trust Your Brain to Remember Something's Color

Whether you’re picking up paint or trying to match some clothing items, here’s the reason why you’re better off not trusting your memory and taking a photo instead.

The human eye can distinguish between millions of colors, but it turns out that it’s almost impossible for our brains to remember exact shades of those colors. A recent study led by cognitive psychologist Jonathan Flombaum, and published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, suggests exact shades go by the wayside because colors automatically get labeled as general “best version” colors in our brains. Flombaum explains in a John Hopkins University press release:

“Trying to pick out a color for touch-ups, I’d end up making a mistake. This is because I’d mis-remember my wall as more prototypically blue. It could be a green as far as Sherwin-Williams is concerned, but I remember it as blue… We can differentiate millions of colors, but to store this information, our brain has a trick. We tag the color with a coarse label. That then makes our memories more biased, but still pretty useful.”

Essentially, your brain uses a shortcut to help you remember the general color, but won’t waste the energy to remember the exact shade. So the next time you’re trying your hardest to remember the right shade of paint—don’t. Get a sample, find the old labeled paint can, or even take a picture. No matter how good your memory is, your brain just won’t let you do it.

Why Some Colors Appear More Memorable Than Others | Journal of Experimental Psychology via Johns Hopkins University

Photo by Bob Mical.

Strengthen Your Memory by Noticing When It Does Things Right

Strengthen Your Memory by Noticing When It Does Things Right

You might think you have a bad memory, but it might be that you just have a bad memory strategy. By catching the moments when your memory works well, you’ll learn how your memory works and adapt your strategy for the better.

Regularly misplacing your car keys doesn’t have to mean that you’re a forgetful person overall. It just means you have the wrong perspective on how your mind works. Kevin Horsley, International Grandmaster of Memory and the author of Unlimited Memory: How to Use Advanced Learning Strategies to Learn Faster, Remember More and Be More Productive, explains at Quora, your problem could be that you only focus on the fact that you forgot something:

Too many people become members of the ‘Bad Memory Club’ and focus on the 5% of the time that their memory fails them. If you think you have a bad memory, it means you have a good one because you can remember where your memory has gone wrong. Think about how much data you already have stored in your memory… Your memory does a lot right, so ask yourself, “How does my memory serve me – how did it serve me today?”

Notice how well you can recall information in a conversation, or maybe how you always seem to remember the lines from a movie. When you start to collect all the ways your memory works for you, you can begin piecing together the puzzle of how your own memory works. Plus you start to realize that your memory isn’t nearly as bad as you tell yourself it is. Having a little confidence in your memory won’t hurt when you’re trying to give it a boost.

Kevin Horsley’s answer to “What is the fastest and best way to improve my memory…” | Quora via Inc.

Photo by Andreas Eldh.

Get More Studying Power from Flashcards by Making Your Own

Get More Studying Power from Flashcards by Making Your Own

Flashcards are great for memorizing, but you can get even more out of them when you create them with the information you’ve already processed yourself.

For some subjects, flashcards can be simple definitions. For others, you want the information you’re studying to be formatted in a way you know you’ll grasp. Zane at skill building blog Life by Experimentation suggests that making your own cards is the best way to do that:

The actual process of creating flashcards is important. Your deck of flashcards should not just be “dictionary definitions.” Turning knowledge into cards is valuable for the same reasons it’s important to not take word-for-word notes: when you try to express information in your own words, you process the information. When you process it, you have to recreate the ideas in a way that makes sense to you. The process of retrieving and reorganizing the information actually strengthens the memory.

The whole point of flashcards is for you to build your memory on a subject, so learn it in a way that you’ll know you can remember it. Find some places to get flashcards for various subjects and then translate them to your own cards in a way that works for you. Maybe you have your own mnemonic system, or have a silly way of remembering a certain fact. Whatever it is, use it instead of ignoring it.

3 Flashcard Mistakes Most Students Make | Life By Experimentation

Photo by drcw.

Use the “Memory Palace” Technique to Memorize Presentations

Use the “Memory Palace” Technique to Memorize Presentations

We’ve shown you the potential benefits of making things visual to help you remember them, but author Dan Roam suggests applying those mental images to each specific talking point in your presentation.

Roam, the author of Show and Tell, recommends you take a series of visual images and arrange them in an imagined space, or "memory palace":

…imagine you’re walking through a place you know well and make a connection between the point you want to make and the items you see. He gives the example of a presentation on technology.

Say, you first want to talk about Apple. You may imagine stepping inside your house and seeing a bowl of apples on the table. If the next thing you want to talk about is rapid change, perhaps you imagine a clock above the bowl of apples that’s spinning fast. When you begin your speech, you step back into your memory palace and visualize these cues, allowing them to guide you through your presentation.

With enough practice, and the use of well thought out visual cues, your presentation can be as easy as taking a walk.

Use These Visual Techniques to be Better Prepared for Presentations | Fast Company

Photo by Public Affairs.