Last week, immediately after the BNI meeting something scary happened to me. I went to get gas for my car, prior to getting on the highway. I got ready at the pump, put my credit card in and couldn’t for the life of me remember my pin number, a pin number I have been using for years.
Those of us of a certain age, let’s say the ones who clearly remember the 60s, even though we might have had some mind-altering substances in our body, will likely be familiar with this phenomenon.
Suddenly, unexpectedly, your memory fails, you forget someone’s name, you struggle to find a specific word you use regularly or you just didn’t remember you took out the milk from the fridge already and it is standing right there on the kitchen counter.
Luckily, I do remember that the internet has tips for everything, so here are a few I found on the World of Psychology website:
- Focus on it. So many people get caught up in multi-tasking, that we often fail to do the one thing that will almost always improve your memory — paying attention to the task at hand.
- Smell, touch, taste, hear and see it. The more senses you involve when you need to encode memory, usually the stronger memory it becomes. Need to remember someone’s name you met for the first time? It may help to look them in the eye when you repeat their name, and offer a handshake. By doing so, you’ve engaged 4 out of your 5 senses.
- Repeat it. One reason people who want to memorize something repeat it over and over again, is because repetition seems to work for most people. It helps not to cram, though. Instead, repeat the information spaced out over a longer period of time.
- Chunk it. North Americans remember their long 10-digit telephone numbers despite being able to hold only 7 pieces of information in their brain at one time. They do because we’ve taught ourselves to chunk the information. Instead of seeing 10 separate pieces of information, we see 3 pieces of information — a 3-digit area code, a 3-digit prefix, and a 4-digit number.
- Organize it. Our brains like organization of information. That’s why books have chapters, and outlines are recommended as a studying method in school. By carefully organizing what it is you have to memorize, you’re helping your brain better encode the information in the first place.
- Learn it the way that works for you. People often get caught up in thinking there’s a “one size fits all” learning style for memorizing new material. For instance, some people like to write things down when they’re learning something new. Others may benefit more from recording what they’re hearing.
- Connect the dots. When we learn, we often forget to try and make associations until later on. For instance, think about how two things are related, and the memory for both will be enhanced. Connect new information to existing information or experiences in your mind.
For those of you who were paying attention, none of these tips would actually help me remember my credit card pin number. So, I tried one number – wrong, and drove to Toronto trying to remember it all the way there. I made it to the gas station at the corner of our street on the last fumes, tried again, wrong again. Since it is “three strikes and you are out”, my solution was to park the car in the garage underneath our condo and tell Marilyn, my wife, that the car needed gas desperately.
I am not sure what I am going to do…..I might need to start carrying cash again.