May 26, 2019
Memory is the diary we carry around with us. -Oscar Wilde
The term ‘memory’ is used to refer to the mental faculty of retaining and recalling past experience. An act of memory is the action of calling upon or collecting facts learned earlier, all over again, to produce the required information at the appropriate time.
Memorizing something comes with 3 (not so) simple steps -
The good news is that memory is not an absolute ability you’re born with. Our brain is a machine learning model which applies reinforcement learning to itself. It can be trained with adequate practice and use.
Research has shown that students who studied with the help of memory devices or scientifically endorsed techniques retained more of the matter they had learnt. Some of these are discussed below.
In these days of constantly exploding information technology, we are all willy-nilly exposed to more information than we have the power to process. It is virtually impossible to avoid knowledge of what is happening in the world around, even if you don’t really want to know.
Every day, we’re bombarded with tonnes of information. To process it efficiently, it’s important to compartmentalize it and get rid of the unwanted. Your brain is like your cupboard. The cleaner it is, the easier it is to find useful information. An uncluttered mind would be able to store important information in an efficient and effective manner and retrieve it quickly when required.
Start by reducing the load of trivia in your brain. A lot of information need not be stored in your memory because you can store it elsewhere for use. You have to realize that our brains, no matter how efficient, are still finite resources. They have limits to what they can store and process. There are no such limits on external storage, however, so you must take advantage of that.
Build yourself a second brain, as Tiago Forte puts it.
Jotting down important information at a single place, carrying a small diary for reminders; these are a few immediate fixes. However, you can take it a step further and create a digital, universal notebook of sorts for all your data.
For managing tasks, you can use simple to-do list apps like these:
If you’re already comfortable with to-do lists and want to take this a step further, you must invest in a good note-taking app that can serve as a second brain. Some of the best ones out there are:
Notion - The all-in-one workspace for your notes, tasks, wikis, and databases.
Effective encoding is the result of a conscious and deliberate exercise. It consists of processing what you read, see or hear. Your mind needs to work on what you read in the way that digestive system needs to work on the food you eat. Encoding is an active process and requires selective attention to the material to be encoded.
INTEREST → ATTENTION → ENCODING
Attention and interest are interlinked. Over time, deliberate and voluntary efforts at evoking interest and attention will give way to free, spontaneous and involuntary attention.
Some are born with a good memory, some simply acquire it.
By following the 3 golden rules of learning:
Meditation is a time tested method of practicing to direct thought in the desired direction and train perceptive skills. Control strong feelings and try to achieve mental calm. Sudden distractions can impair your ability to concentrate so try to avoid them as far as possible.
Some people are blessed with a ‘photographic memory’. An exceptionally rare gift, but those without the gift need not despair. You just need to use your inner eye as a camera and your mind as a mental notice board. Random connection between things triggers off a chain of associations that give rise to memories without too much effort.
Well-known psychologists have shown through their studies that within one or two days we forget about 80% of what we have learnt. At the end of an hour of learning, your mind integrates the information that you have just studied. Your ability to recall it actually rises after about ten minutes and then falls of dramatically. Therefore what you need to do is review what you have learnt at that 10-minute mark. Reinforce the information when it is at its strongest in your mind.
According to Wikipedia, Firsthand learning is an inquiry process that is generative of questions that focus subsequent investigations. The process invites learners to gather and record their observations, to analyze and interpret them, and to arrive at provisional answers.
Arising from a learner’s innate curiosity and the desire to investigate real phenomena, firsthand learning empowers people by providing them with opportunities to figure things out for themselves, to believe in the analytical abilities of their own minds, and to connect with the world around them. It requires close engagement with the immediate environment.
Substitute experiences have been classified and created by educationists according to their relative effectiveness.
According to researchers Dr. L.D. Rosenblum, Dr. Harold Stolovitch and Dr Erica Keeps, here’s how much information each of our senses processes at the same time as compared to our other senses.
Your Senses Are Your Raw Information Learning Portals
The best way to learn is undoubtedly through first-hand experience. For example, the best way to learn about life in a village is to actually go to one.
It is because first-hand learning is the most effective form, so much so that schools and colleges put a lot of emphasis on project work, exhibitions, or field-work. They allow you to think about the information you are getting in order to analyze it and present it systematically for other people to understand.
So don’t underestimate the importance of first-hand learning.
Is it possible to be conscious of everything that is happening around us? Most of the time, we are only weakly aware of what is going on. That is because all our sensory organs are working simultaneously in a passive state. One industry which places a lot of attention to the way that people retain information is the advertising industry as of course the whole point of advertising is to make consumers remember a certain product.
One easy way to train your power of observation is by trying to remember the names of all the people you meet. Take visual cues, store little details about them in your head that you normally wouldn’t. When you think back on these details, it will be easy to recall the person. This technique works as continuous memory training and helps you to improve your capacity to take in details.
Recall is better when tested in the same physical or emotional context as in which the process of learning took place. This means that retention is difficult when the cues present at the time of learning are not present at the time of recall. Sometimes we cannot remember something which, at other times, we can recall pretty easily. This kind of forgetfulness is fortunately temporary.
For example, the stress of the exam situation or the unfamiliarity of the exam room can sometimes cause unnecessary distress to the brain and hinder our ability to recall needed information. Sometimes, you might just have a mental block. You have to learn to relax during exams and to believe in yourself.
Retrieval of a memory is not a random process. It is basically a reconstruction of the past activity of encoding. The brain, like other organs, is similar to a machine that needs to be used in the right manner.
The first reason why we forget is usually because encoding or learning was not a pleasant experience and therefore it was not effective. It may seem hard to make every learning experience a positive or enjoyable one, but the key is to have a positive attitude and an enthusiastic, inquisitive mind that can make even the toughest topics seem interesting.
Update your mind cache with Fibonacci Sequence Interval, starting from index = 2.
It’s not about how many problems you’ve solved, it’s about how well you remember and have understood the ones you already know.
In order to recall what you have learnt and to recall it whenever you want, the information has to be transferred from short term memory to long term memory. This requires conscious effort.
Only you can make a difference. Your learning ability depends on your maturity and physical and psychological readiness. As long as you remain motivated, you will learn well and recall information easily. If you do not want to learn, no one can make you. When you are willing to learn, no one can stop you. You need to be an active participant for the learning process to be most effective.
Motivation is as important as setting yourself positive goals. So reward yourself appropriately after each accomplishment.
Let’s Start! Check out the original post on Notion.