How To Think Effectively: 12 Powerful Techniques
People like to joke that the only thing you really “learn” in school is how to memorize. As it turns out, that’s not even the case for most of us. If you go around the room and ask a handful of people how to memorize things quickly and how to remember things, most of them will probably tell you that the key is repetition.
However, if you were to talk to memory athletes, you would learn that that advice is not pointing you in the right direction. If you want to memorize something quickly and thoroughly, repetition won’t cut it; however, recalling something will. The problem is that recalling something requires paying attention and learning, and we all learn in different ways.
So, how can you memorize something fast?
In this article, you will learn memory techniques to master the art of recalling so that you can start memorizing a ton of data in a short amount of time.
Before You Start, Know Your Learning Style
Before you get started, you need to establish something: are you an auditory, visual, or experiential learner?
If you’re an auditory learner, then the most effective way for you to grasp information is by hearing it. As you can imagine, visual learners favor seeing something in order to learn it. Experiential learning types are more likely to learn from events and experiences (or, doing something with the material).
Find out your learning style here: There Are 7 Types of Learners: Which One Are You?
Most of us are a combination of at least two of these categories, but I will denote which step is most favorable to your most agreeable learning style so that you can start to memorize things quickly and efficiently.
Follow the steps below to start your memory training and store all of those useful pieces of information in your long term memory.
To optimize your memorization session and learn how to memorize something fast, pay close attention to which environment you choose. For most people, this means choosing an area with few distractions, though some people do thrive off of learning in public areas. Figure out what is most conducive to your learning so that you can get started.
Next, start drinking some tea. I could link you to mounds of scientific studies that confirm green tea as a natural catalyst for improving memory. Mechanically speaking, our ability to recall information comes down to the strength between neurons in our mind, which are connected by synapses. The more you exercise the synapse (repetition), the stronger it is, resulting in the ability to memorize.
As we get older, toxic chemicals will damage our neurons and synapses, leading to memory loss and even Alzheimer’s. Green tea contains compounds that block this toxicity and keep your brain cells working properly a lot longer.
2. Record What You’re Memorizing
This is especially useful if you’re trying to memorize information from a lecture. Use a tape recorder to track all of the acquired facts being spoken and listen to it. If you’re doing something more complicated, like learning a foreign language, it may be useful to make notecards of the new words you’re trying to memorize.
If you’re trying to memorize a speech, record yourself reading the speech aloud and listen to yourself speaking. Obviously, this is most helpful for auditory learners, but it’s also handy because it ensures that you’re getting more context from a lecture that will help you learn the information faster.
3. Write Everything Down
Before you start trying to recall everything from memory, write and rewrite the information. This will help you become more familiar with what you’re trying to memorize. Of course, we said above that repetition isn’t always the best way to memorize something, but this can be great for visual learners as you’ll be able to see the information in front of you.
Doing this while listening to the recordings can also help you retain a lot of the data. This is most useful for experiential learners.
4. Section Your Notes
Now that you have everything written down in one set of notes, separate them into sections. This is ideal for visual learners, especially if you use color coding to differentiate between subjects.
This will help you break everything down and start compartmentalizing the information being recorded in your brain.
5. Use the Memory Palace Technique
A great way to “section off” information is through the memory palace technique. This is especially good for visual learners, but it can also work as a sort of “experience” for experiential learners, and if you say the path out loud, it can work for auditory learners as well.
There are several steps to this technique, but it basically involves choosing a place you know well, identifying it’s distinctive features, and using those features to “store” bits of information you want to remember.
For example, if you’re working on learning how to memorize lines, you can find a place in your memory palace for each line of text, and as you’re reciting them when the time comes, you’ll simply have to walk through the room to pick up each line of text in the correct order. When everything has its place, it’ll be waiting for you to retrieve it.
To learn how to apply the memory palace technique, read this article, which offers details on each step: How to Build a Memory Palace to Remember More of Everything.
6. Apply Repetition to Cumulative Memorization
For each line of text, repeat it a few times and try to recall it without looking. As you memorize each set of text, be cumulative by adding the new information to what you’ve just learned. This will keep everything within your short-term memory from fading.
How does this work? It’s actually related to two distinct modes of brain functioning: System 1 and System 2. You can take a look at how these systems work if you want to improve your memory.
Keep doing this until you have memorized that section and are able to recall the entire thing. Do not move on to another section until you have memorized that one completely.
This is mostly visual learning, but if you are speaking aloud, then you are also applying auditory.
7. Teach It to Someone
Studies have shown that teaching information to someone is a surefire way to remember that information as it requires you to retrieve the information from your own memory. You can do this in a variety of ways. You can lecture the knowledge to someone sitting right in front of you (or the mirror, if you can’t convince anyone to sit through it).
If what you’ve learned needs to be recited verbatim, then do this in front of someone as well in order to get a feel for what it will be like to recite the text to the intended audience.
My favorite method for this is creating tests for other people. Take the information and predict what questions will come out of them. Use multiple choice, matching, and so on to present the data in test format and see how someone else does.
All of this is experiential learning since you are actually practicing and manipulating the concepts you’ve learned.
8. Listen to the Recordings Continuously
While doing unrelated tasks like laundry or driving, go over the information again by listening to your recordings. This is certainly auditory learning, but it will still supplement everything you’ve shoved into your short-term memory.
9. Take a Break
Finally, let your mind breathe. Go for a short time without thinking about what you just learned and come back to it later on. Better yet, get out and take a walk while you’re on your break in order to absorb the benefits of being in nature.
You’ll find out what you really know once you come back to the information, and this will help you focus on the sections you might be weakest at.
Try these steps now, and you will find remembering things a lot easier, and you’ll memorize more than a lot of other people!
Whether you’re learning how to memorize a speech, learn a new language, or cramming for tomorrow’s exam, memory serves us in nearly every area of our lives. Once you learn how to memorize information faster and more efficiently, you’ll put yourself ahead of the pack of those who are still struggling to remember and recall necessary bits of information. Get started today!
More on How to Memorize Information
Featured photo credit: Caleb Angel via unsplash.com
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