To compete in today’s quick-moving, information-intense society, a good memory is an important quality to possess. The ability to remember important pieces of information like names, faces, facts, dates, events, and other components of daily life is vital to your success. If you have a good memory, you won’t need to worry about forgetting or losing important items, and you can overcome mental blocks that prevent you from achieving your maximum potential on the job, at home, and in your love life.
Your memory is controlled by a complex network of interconnected neurons within the brain that can hold millions of pieces of independent data. It is this ability of your mind to store detailed, organized memories of past experiences that makes you capable of learning and creativity. These experiences stored in the form of memories help you learn from mistakes, protect you from danger, and achieve the goals that you set. By harnessing the power of your memory, you are better able to learn life lessons that help you avoid mistakes in the future based on your own past and the failures of others.
While poor memory can sometimes be the result of a mental handicap or disability, it most often has to do with a lack of attention or inability to concentrate, poor listening skills, and other types of bad habits. Fortunately, you can re-train yourself with proper habits to develop and fine-tune your memory. The basic tool for developing better memory is the “clustering” technique.
Examples of clustering include:
1. Grouping by numbers, letters, physical characteristics, or categories
2. Grouping words and concepts that are related, or opposites
3. Grouping with mental pictures or subjective organization
Data clustering improves memory by breaking information into more easily manageable pieces. For example, consider a 10-digit phone number with area code. By memorizing the numbers in groups of three or four, you’ll be able to more easily access this data from your memory bank.
Word or concept clustering involves grouping words together in our minds to help us have better recollection. This harnesses the power of association, in which one thought or suggestion leads you to recall another. One example is word pair clusters. These can be synonyms, antonyms, or associated words. For example “fair” and “square”, “man” and “woman”.
Clustering through subjective organization uses categories, processes, devices, and associations to remember data. For example, vocabulary words are often remembered in groups, based on the context in which they were discussed. Remembering one word triggers the memory of an unrelated word with which it was somehow grouped or associated.
Let’s take cooking as another example. While there are a number of ingredients in a recipe, each one of these individual ingredients has no context by itself. It’s only through the process of combining each of these ingredients that the whole context takes shape.
In sum, use the following strategies to hone your memory:
1. Reflect on the process of problem solving or contextualizing instead of trying to memorize facts out of context.
2. Understand what techniques work best for you individually. Do you work best with category clusters? Or are you more visually driven?
3. Analyze situational details and experiences to remember important data, and eliminate unnecessary data