Focus on the task at hand
While we often say we are multitasking, the reality is that doing one thing well is better than doing several things poorly. You do need to be in the moment and pay attention. Recently flying home from a cross country trip, we couldn’t find the car upon returning which was frustrating. How many times have we parked the car in a crowded parking lot, only to come back out and have to think where we parked? Look at your surroundings instead of your cell phone to mentally take note of the location of the car’s notable landmarks. Be in the moment.
If we had written down the parking lot section at the airport, we wouldn’t have wasted a half-hour after an exhausting day of travel. Someone once said, “A short pencil is better than a long memory.” With the fast pace of the world, give yourself an edge and write it down. That also includes using a calendar for appointments.
Someone tells you their birthday is next week and you want to acknowledge it with a phone call on the actual birthday. Repeat it aloud and think about what you would say. Do that a few times and you will remember.
Have a place for everything
Many people complain about misplacing car keys. Get a basket or key rack and use it. Putting your car keys in the same place will save you time in the morning. If your son can’t find his shoes all the time, then get a shoe rack for the closet.
Good habits save time
We are creatures of habit and this can work to our advantage. Have a mental checklist before leaving to make sure you have that dry cleaning you want to dropping off after work or your lunch you packed. Don’t remember if you turned off the iron or not? Make it a point to disconnect any electrical appliance as soon as you are done with it and better yet, only buy appliances with automatic shut off.
Check your pantry items for the upcoming week, make a menu and use a grocery list to help save needless extra trips to the store because you forgot things. A little time getting organized will help you remember better as you can see how prepared you are already and will feel more confident.
Chunk the information
This is a strategy to remember something like a phone number or address. Take the smaller parts, repeat them a few times and memorize them separately. The idea of memorizing smaller sections and then putting it together is easier than remembering large amounts of information. This is a great study technique for students who need to memorize things.
Don’t let electronics rule you
Many people get so wrapped up in their TV, computer or phone that they feel like they do not need to remember anything as modern technology will do it for them. As an exercise for your memory, take time to remember your important numbers in case you misplace your phone.
Return to the location where you had the thought you can’t remember. Sometimes there is a visual clue that hit you when you had that thought. Life is so fast-paced that taking a moment to think about what you were going to do or say helps bring the thought back.
Think through the idea of what you are trying to remember by picturing it. When you paid your bill, did you do it online or write a check? How much was the bill for? And what type of stamp did you use? Which collection box did you use? Making a mental movie of what you did can help sharpen your memory.
Use mnemonics to help you remember your errands. Make a rhyme of your list you want to remember or sing out the list. Exercise the brain with brainteasers, puzzles and crossword puzzles.
Your memory is a use it or loses its process. With television, the Internet and our cell phones, we have let our minds become lazy and complacent and don’t always employ strenuous thinking. For example, driving down the street, we may know the route to take, but can we easily name the roads and route numbers, enough to give good directions to others? Make the connections and make a conscious effort to exercise your brain. If you try these tips and they are not helping, you may want to discuss this with your doctor.