Memory Strategies That Work
April 19th, 2013 by Tony Barlow
When you are attempting to memorize / understand some information, how do you do that in the fastest and most efficient way possible. What you are aiming for is one time learning. Listen to, Read or Watch something once, understand it and have it in your memory the first time. This is not always possible but in my experience you can come close to it. There are students who have to read or study something 10-15 times before they get the memory & understanding that they want. There is no need for these students to go through such a long study process if they understand how their memory works and then develop an effective mental strategy for each type of memory task.
YOUR THOUGHT PROCESS IS KEY
I often hear the following comments from students, parents and teachers.
"I read it 5 times and I still don't remember it, why?"
"I showed her, told her, she did a hands on experiment in class, we watched a video but 2 weeks later its gone from her head and I have to explain it again"
"I write out the definitions 10 times each, I say them 5 times each, why am I not memorizing them"
"My memory is bad"
"He has only a short term memory but doesn't retain things long term"
The first thing you need to understand to start getting your memory to work well, is that you actively need to do something in your thought process. When you are reading a book, listening to a teacher, watching a video, what counts is what you are thinking. (If you haven't yet, read the article The missing piece in our educational system). What you are thinking will decide what gets recorded onto your brain and what doesn't.
Your brain is like the hard drive of a computer, that's where the information is recorded to. Your thinking process is the software that records the information onto your brain. If your'e not doing anything in your thinking, very little is getting recorded.
WHAT TOP STUDENTS DO - HOW TO RECORD INFORMATION ONTO YOUR BRAIN
When I first started uncovering the mental strategies of top students it became obvious that most effective learning strategies involve at least 3 internal senses. When you are recording information onto your brain with your thought process you have 5 options. You can think in:
Pictures (visualize an apple / Visual)
Sounds (imagine the sound of biting into an apple / Auditory)
Feelings or Sensations (imagine the feeling of holding an apple / Kinesthetic)
Taste (imagine the taste of the apple / Gustatory)
Smell (imagine the smell of the apple / Olfactory).
In school we primarily need to think in pictures, sounds and feelings so I will leave the last 2 out for the sake of simplicity.
The most effective memory strategies use at least the 3 internal senses of Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic. (VAK) this gives you 3 ways to get the memory back, if you forget the picture you may still remember the sound, if you forget the sound you may still remember the feeling. Just one part of the memory is enough and then the whole memory will come back.
Top students typically create mental movies inside their minds including dramatic moving pictures, sounds, feelings, tastes, smells. And they are usually inside the movie experiencing all the feelings and emotions. Because this is happening out of their conscious awareness they are sometimes completely unaware of what they are doing, it 'just happens'.
HOW TO ACHIEVE ONE TIME MEMORY - THE POWER OF NLP
The key to achieving one time memory is how you use your thought process, just knowing that you need to visualize is not enough. Look at the image below and you will see that there are many ways to use your thinking. NLP is the only technology of the mind that talks about the thought process as something more that just visual, auditory or kinesthetic. Its how you use these internal senses that counts. The image below shows you just some of the options you have:
If you are picturing something in your mind:
Is it a movie or a still picture ?, Is is fast or slow moving?, Are you inside the experience or are you watching from a distance?
If you are saying something to yourself:
What type of voice are you using?, Is it loud or soft? Is if fast or slow?
What kind of feeling or sensation are you imagining:
Hot or cold?, Rough or smooth?, How intense?
THE KEY TO ONE TIME MEMORY IS: Using your thinking process in such as way as to create EMOTION inside of you. When you get emotion the brain takes this as something important and will record the information strongly on your brains neurology. Emotionally recorded memories can last a lifetime.
All of the memory strategies I have learned from top students have this principle in them. Go through some of the learning strategies in the free tips memory strategies page and you will find the same principle again and again.
WHAT STRUGGLING STUDENTS TYPICALLY DO
Typically, if a student is struggling with memory it's not that their brain is not capable of memorizing well, its just that the thought process they are using in order to memorize information is either non existent or ineffective.
Here are some examples of what some students do when they are attempting to memorize information:
-Say it to themselves over and over (very common, also known as rote learning, purely auditory strategy) boring, tedious, emotionless and only works for short term memory, unless you do lots of repetitions.
-Thinking nothing at all or about something else (Students who are bored or have lost confidence may be thinking of something else entirely, they're looking at you but thinking something else) of course little or nothing gets recorded onto their brain.
-Write it out over and over or take lots of notes (This is a kinesthetic / visual external strategy. What I mean is you are FEELING yourself writing the information and you are SEEING it out the OUTSIDE (not in your thought process) again this is a limited number of senses being used and not effective.)
Considering we don't teach students what to do inside their minds they come up with all kinds of methods, some are effective and some not.
START LEARNING HOW TO LEARN RIGHT NOW !
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