by Eryk Jan Grzeszkowiak
Unfortunately, schools do very little to teach students how to learn effectively. Fear not – memorising facts can be easy, quick and fun. These memory tricks will save you time and help you get better grades with less effort.
1. Eat (and drink) right
This may sound obvious but if your diet is lacking in essential nutrients your body will not be as effective. Make sure to eat a lot of fruit and veg. Try to avoid processed foods if possible and choose organic products to save your stomach from artificial additives. Drink at least 2 litres of water every day to stay hydrated and focused. If you do not drink enough you may mistake hunger for thirst and overeat. These small but important lifestyle changes will quickly revive your brain power.
2. Move to a palace
Ancient Greeks were fascinated by the power of human mind. They devised a very effective mnemonic technique called method of loci or memory palace. You can memorise long lists surprisingly easily and it works even if the items on the list are totally random. It takes practice to master, but here are the basics.
Say you have to memorise the following objects (in the same order): bottle, dog, toothbrush, eight, carrot, scissors and chocolate. Now imagine you are in your bedroom. See a huge bottle sleeping and snoring in your bed. Now go to the bathroom – there is a dog brushing its teeth with your toothbrush and in the shower a huge number 8 is eating a carrot. Go to the kitchen and see enormous scissors cutting bars of delicious chocolate. Now just imagine going the same route again – you are probably surprised that you have memorised all these random objects! This is because you tricked your mind into thinking you were actually moving and have successfully activated the part of your brain responsible for spatial memory. This was a very simple example but you can use this technique to memorise much more complicated information too.
3. Have a nose around your brain
Two very powerful aromas that can improve your memory are spearmint and rosemary. Prof. Susan Farr discovered last year that these herbal extracts improved the memory of mice suffering from age-associated cognitive decline. It seems that rosemary’s memory boosting powers were known as far back as the 16th century! Shakespeare’s Ophelia said “Rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray, love, remember". If it worked for mice and Ophelia, it seems that the herb is definitely worth a go!
4. Chew it over
Chewing gum is an extremely easy way to speed up your brain and boost your concentration. While this method is probably not appropriate for lectures or seminars, it can turn your reading time into a much more relaxing and memorable experience. Research suggests chewing gum works for both your short-term and long-term memory.
5. Your brain needs a workout
If you are serious about improving your memory you really should exercise regularly. Physical activity is very important for your brain, but mental workout is a must too. Physical activities such as jogging, swimming, cycling or exercising at home are all very beneficial to your health. As for mental exercises – Sudoku, crosswords, learning new languages or even playing computer games are just a few of many options that are out there. Choose what works best for you but avoid routine – it kills creativity and your brain hates it!
Many people who notice that their memory is not as good as they would want it to be do absolutely nothing about it, choosing to blame genetics. Do your brain a favour and take care of it now – you will soon discover how powerful it can be!