The ability to remember a vast amount of data and information is vital to students and can truly be the difference between passing and failing a subject. So it’s no wonder that there is so much focus on maximizing our memory ability!
But how does our memory actually work? How come we can remember some information without any effort at all (often useless information like the names and theme songs of the cartoons we watched when we were children) yet often we when really want to remember certain things for tests or assignments we draw a blank?
The truth is, our memory works in precisely the manner that it is supposed to work. The real issue is that we have very little understanding (or no understanding at all) of the way it operates and how we can manipulate it to our advantage.
The approach that most students take to memorization (re-reading information or repeating information many times over) is not consistent with the way that the mind creates memory recall. Nonetheless, we just keep on using this technique desperately hoping that something will stick! Unfortunately, while you may retain some small amounts of data this way, it’s a really silly approach when you understand how your memory really works.
Accessing the amazing power of your memory is about understanding how it works and then using that information to ensure you can remember whatever you want to remember.
There are many techniques you can use to improve your memory recall but today’s lesson is about just one of them – the “What’s in it for me” method. This method states that the more you can make something relate to you personally, the more about it you will be able to remember.
When it comes to memory, your brain always wants to know “How does this relate to me?” or put even more simply “Why should I even bother storing this as a memory?”
The fact is, if something seems important to you personally, you will be more likely to remember it – and you’ll also remember it more vividly and in far greater detail.
Don’t believe me? Think about it. What things do you remember? Those things that have some direct impact on your life (like what time you need to meet your friends at the movies this weekend) or those things that have zero impact on your life (like your mom’s favorite ice cream flavor?) You remember those things, people, places, prices, products and details of anything that is going to impact your life in some way.
I’m not suggesting this happens because you want it to happen. It’s just a natural part of being human – it’s on autopilot. When something is significant to you, the memory of it sticks. But it’s not enough to understand this rule. You also need to apply it to your studies don’t you? So let’s see how this can help you improve your recall.
If you are learning about something like economic trends (yawn!), imagine how those may impact on your ability to go and buy a new pair of jeans (i.e. your personal buying power as a consumer – yawn again!) Or perhaps think about how it may impact on your ability to get a high paying job after school.
If you are learning about other cultures (for example) you can simply compare their culture to your own. In what ways does the culture differ from your own? In what ways does it match? In what ways is it kind of similar but not really? Asking yourself these questions may seem silly but the more questions you can ask that are actually about you, the more you will remember.
If you are trying to remember names and dates just focus on how do these names and dates relate to you. Ask yourself, “Do I know anyone by those or similar names? Do I like the name for some reason or do I think it’s a weird name? Why is that? Did the people or dates that I have to remember ever impact my life in any way? Did anything happen on those dates that relates to me personally?”
The point is, take what you need to learn and make it about you. Most people enjoy being self-centered anyway so just extend on your natural inclination! The more you make it all about you and relate it back to yourself the more easily you will build memory traces and improve your memory recall. Give it a try, it really works. Good luck.
How To Study Effectively: Why Being Self-Centered Will Make Your Memory Soar
Study, Study Effectively, How To Study Effectively