We all love to learn new things. It doesn’t matter whether you are a kid or a middle aged or old. Whether you are a student, a professional, a trainee or a retiree, chances are that you’re trying to learn something every day. It could be anything – how to play the guitar or a piano, a new language, a science experiment, math formulae, a history lesson or new recipes for cooking.
Almost all new things require us to memorize and retain information. The question is, how can we remember what we learn and retain it in our memory? Is there a way to memorize faster and not forget?
Our minds are constantly evolving with new information. When I was a student, I hated studying for exams because I was not good at memorizing. No matter how many times I read the textbook, I would remember nothing. If you are like me, don’t worry, you are not alone.
In this article let us learn about some hacks and tips on how to memorize things faster and remember them for longer periods.
12 Hacks and Tips to Memorize Faster
Do you know why we tend to forget information? It is because our brain is always protecting us from getting overloaded with the information we receive all day. For this reason, all of the new information first goes into short term memory and not to the long term memory.
In order to remember things for a longer time, you need to figure out ways to store the information in long term memory. And what’s the way to do that? You need to use the information again and again. But that’s just one of the many ways to memorize faster. In this article, I’ll walk you through 12 such hacks and tips to memorize faster.
Exercise daily to clear your mind
We all know exercise is good for our physical health, but do you know it’s also good for our mental health? Working out has a lot of benefits for our brains too. It boosts our learning and memorizing skills. So, if you are having writer’s block or struck with a math problem, try having a quick workout session.
According to the 2013 study at Stanford University, USA, a quick exercise session will immediately benefit you with cognition irrespective of your age. In the study, 144 participants aged between 19 and 93 were assigned an exercise session and then later a test for their working memory. Results showed an improvement in their memory and cognitive processing. So, to improve your cognitive skills and to memorize faster, try going for a run or squeeze in a quick gym session in your day and notice the results.
Write things over and over
Remember how as kids we were made to write down the answers to the questions? Turns out it was an exercise to build memory. As we grow old, we try to memorize things in our heads.
However, writing the information over and over again is the easiest and the most effective way to memorize faster. You may feel annoying to jot down the same thing again and again but trust me it can do wonders for your memory recall. Research says that instead of passively learning by re-reading, listing the information out improves our ability to memorize them.
In another study, the researchers found out that making lecture notes by hand helped the students recall better than typing them on the computer. The research also suggested that using laptops to take notes can impair learning. Their results showed that students who take notes by hand perform better in conceptual questions than those who take notes on computers.
Practice mindfulness through meditation and Yoga
Deliberately focussing on the learning task at hand makes memorizing much easier. But, in today’s time almost everyone suffers from attention deficiency. Most of the time, we are not even paying enough attention to truly grasp what we’re trying to learn. Hence, to memorize faster, it’s very important to practice mindfulness every day.
Doing yoga is also one of the easiest ways to improve your brain’s memory. It is involved in muscle control and sensory perceptions like speech, memory, decision-making, and seeing. A study in the USA shows that yoga practitioners exhibit greater volumes of grey matter and less cognitive failures as yoga helps in staying mindful.
Another study in 2012 states that just 20 minutes of yoga a day will boost our brain’s functions. Study participants after a yoga session have performed extremely good in brain functioning tests both speed wise and accuracy wise. So, make meditation and yoga a part of your lifestyle to improve your brain’s performance and develop fast memorizing skills. It not only makes you memorize faster but also helps you overcome restlessness and inability to focus.
Study and practice during afternoon hours
If you develop the habit to learn during specific hours of the day, then your mind will be much more active. And a study shows that buckling up or focusing a task in the afternoon is more effective than in any time of the day.
Afternoon study will have a greater effect on long term memory training. In the study, there were 68 undergraduate students who were divided into three groups, one moning study group, one evening study group and one afternoon study group. Results show that the afternoon study group has memorized faster and longer when compared to the other two groups.
So, even though you are much of a morning or an evening person, make a habit of studying or focusing on things in the afternoon.
Try relating new things to what you already know
Have you noticed how your train of thoughts moves from one thing to another? It’s not surprising to know that our brain likes to form connections. But did you ever think about using it to your advantage?
A study conducted at Loma Linda University School of Medicine shows that relating new things to the things you already know is a great technique to memorize faster and for longer periods.
For better understanding, the University wrote that if we are learning about Romeo and Juliet, we might associate what we learn about the play with prior knowledge we have about Shakespeare, the historical period in which the author lived and other relevant information. This type of learning is called relational learning. So, try to relate things from the past to the new things you are learning now to memorize faster.
Do not multitask
In this modern technology-driven world, we often tend to answer a call or a text from our smartphone while doing another task. We might even listen to the radio or watch T.V. while we are studying. While this doesn’t really seem like a big problem, such habits decrease your concentration levels. Some say multitasking is a good thing but when it comes to learning a new thing, it is better to focus on just one thing at a time.
In the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, an article states that multitasking undermines our efficiency. Especially when it is unfamiliar or a new task as it takes extra time to shift mental gears each time when you move from one task to another. So, try your level best not to multitask when you wanted to improve your skills and memorize things faster.
Teach yourself or others what you have learned
One of the best ways to test yourself if you have really understood a lesson is to teach someone else. If you don’t have anybody to teach, why not try teaching to a class of stuffed animals. A mirror can also be a good alternative. Sharing is an efficient way to solidify your new information.
This is because while teaching, you will translate the information into your own words which helps your brain to better understand it. There are a number of different and innovative ways to break something down to teach others and it is also a win-win situation to both the speaker and the listener. So, try teaching yourself or to someone else to memorize faster and remember what you learn.
Create a mind map
Creating a mental association is not only the best way to remember things faster, but also it boosts your creativity and intelligence. Mind maps are an easy way to connect things by creating a visual overview of what you are learning. It is also an easy way to simplify complex information.
The reason why mind maps are easy to remember is that our human brains process visual information better than text. Mind maps help us understand the concepts of our learning material and represent their connections. It also helps us in exploring the concepts in greater depth and develop better recall skills. Mind mapping is a technique that helps us to break down even the most difficult subjects or information into more bite-size snippets.
Read out aloud what you’re trying to learn
It may sound a little crazy but trust me speaking out loud rather than simply reading will make you memorize the information faster and in an effective manner. Try reading out loud once and you will be truly surprised how much more you can memorize things. You are 50% more likely to remember things when you speak out loud rather than simply reading it. But, please don’t do it in a crowded place or in a library and make yourself a laughing stock!
Creating flashcards is yet another way for a quick memory buzz. They help you in quickly testing your knowledge of key concepts, definitions, quotes and formulae. Flashcards are the best tool to memorize verbs, quotes, grammar rules, formulae, historical dates and lots more. They help you in learning and remembering key information quickly since memorizing key points is one of the most important aspects of the study.
You can also add images in your flashcard. The combination of text and visual elements enhances your ability to recall information. Images also help to reinforce your learning skills. Flashcards have proven themselves to be the perfect memory boosters of all time.
So, try using the flashcards if you want to memorize things faster.
Play ambient music in the background
While music can distract you from studying, there are some kinds of music that can actually help you study better. Letting certain kind of tracks play in the background will elevate your mood and boost your concentration power. While we need a quiet environment without distractions when we learn new things, for some of us it can backfire as we may end up with fighting boredom and ultimately succumb to sleeping at the desk. Although some say that listening to music while learning isn’t good, for some it works wonders.
Here are some tips for listening to music to help you study and memorize better.
- Listen to peaceful and harmonious music. Classical music is one of the best options.
- Ambient instrumental is also an alternative for those who like modern music more than classical.
- Environmental music such as sounds of rain, waves, jungle or animals is relaxing and you will feel like you are in another world.
- The music should always be at a moderate volume. If it is loud, it will distract you. It should always play in the background. You can increase the volume and enjoy when you have completed your task.
- Create a playlist in advance as searching for a song for every five minutes will distract you and don’t listen to the radio as the voice of the presenters and ads will be distracting. Also, you can make the playlist for 50 to 60 minutes and when the playlist ends, it will be a reminder for you to take a break and start again.
- Listening to music before going to bed or before an exam can make you feel relaxed and put you in the right state of mind.
Practice, Practice, Practice…
Even if you’ve learned something very well, you will eventually forget it without practice. Practice will make you an expert in anything you have learnt. If you are preparing for an exam, practicing the previous question paper will help your brain retrieve most of the information. The same goes for reading tests too. Create a realistic exam-like condition and start attempting a test. Not only exams, any new skill should also be kept in practice. After all, practice makes a man perfect.
The above are the 12 hack and tips to memorize things faster. My final piece of advice is to stay positive. Try to understand what you are learning because it helps you memorize 9 times faster and also set the priorities and learn the most necessary information with utmost concentration. Switch your attention from one topic to another as similar memories will get mixed up and leaves a big mess. Now that you are aware of these hacks to memorize better, you can use them during your exams and when you’re trying to learn a new skill.
Which hack worked the best for you? Let’s know in the comments below.