I attended an interesting training course about memory recently. I note down my takeaways before my memories fade away.
Good memory does not equal to intelligent. I can learn and practise some methods to maximise my memory, but I probably need to experience, learn and reflect a lot to become intelligent. I often think people who have good memories are intelligent. They may be, but let’s do not be judgemental.
Don’t rely on logic. Improving memory by thinking differently. I recall in 2000 I bought a game box as a gift for my 3 years old nephew. Actually I was captivated by the game when I glanced it at the first time. I started to play it, and my little nephew quietly stood on the table to watch how I was trying to change directions of different parts to fit them in the grid. Soon I finished an easy game. I let my nephew to play afterwards and I went to do something else. When I came back, he had finished it. I couldn’t believe he could finish it so quickly. So I started a difficult game. It took me longer to finish. Then I ask him to try. I thought he wouldn’t be able to finish this one as it is an advanced-level game. I looked at my little nephew calmly put parts in the right position. I couldn’t believe he did it. How come? He giggled and told me actually he just remembered the colours, the shapes and the positions of some parts. Aha, as an adult, I used logic; my 3 years old nephew used short memory! What a game! Linking back to my training session, Kathryn suggested us to be like a 6 years old and do not be too clear when coming to remember things.
Don’t forget our sensory plays a key role when we learn new things. Visual, auditory, tasty, smell and haptic perceptions help us to remember the information. True, we use eyes the most and forget other senses. I immediately remembered the proverb – “Once bitten, twice shy”.
Linking new information to familiar things. I used to link the person who I met the first time to some cartoon characters a lot. Then I described the character to people, they quickly knew who I was referring to. Before the training course, I didn’t realise I had already applied this technique. Unfortunately, since I started working in the UK, I didn’t use the technique as before. Why? This was related to two important things. The one was the English culture/literature barriers. Many cartoon characters I know were in Chinese Without being familiar with their English names and original stories, it’s hard for me to express it to other people even though I could visually see and link the new to what my knew. The another is in workplace we need to be careful when it’s related to diversity (e.g., age, race, gender, religion). It challenges our own prejudice and bias. I didn’t want to unconsciously offend anybody due to I used the technique of linking a person to a cartoon character to help my memory. The technique would be fine if I just use and keep it for myself.
Repeat allows us to revisit our short memory and helps consolidate the information as long term memory. Yes, we all know this technique. When I was a kid, I used it a lot. In school, I repeated reading the same article or was asked to recite the article in order to memorise new vocabularies. I repeated the nine-nine multiplication table to learn arithmetic, which benefited me until today. Nowadays I feel I don’t use this technique a lot like previously. I wonder whether this is one of the main reasons why we often forget things because we get new information constantly but we are too busy to repeat old information.
Exercise and regular practise our memories. If I don’t use it, I forget it. Today technologies help us to some extent, for instance, email alert, reminder apps, and smart speakers. However, to maintain our memories and to strengthen our brain function, doing novelty and challenge exercises is essential and helpful. We can try things like driving home via a different route; learning a new language, trying things we never did before, or anything new that requires to use our senses.