- Write it down. Rather than juggling too many things in your brain, write it down on paper where you can see it, especially if it’s something important. If it’s a deadline or a date to be somewhere or do something, write it on your calendar. Not only will seeing it help you to remember it (that is, as long as you remember to look where you wrote it), writing it down will also get it off your brain, which help’s to clear your mind.
- Focus. Pay attention to the information you need to remember as it is presented rather than listening with your ears while thinking about other things.
- Repeat it. This works great for remembering things such as names, numbers, or a list of items. When you are first introduced to someone, repeat their name silently at least three times, or better yet, say their name out loud three times in conversation. If you have a list of things you want to do or get, repeat those things on the list several times until it sticks.
- Rephrase it. Putting something into your own words requires thought, a form of active engagement that helps you remember better. Repeat it after you've rephrased it.
- Use your fingers. Imagine using your fingers to count: 1 (thumb), 2 (index finger), 3 (middle finger), 4 (ring finger), 5 (pinkie). Now, instead of counting with numbers, let each finger represent something on a list. For each finger, create a visual of the item associated with that finger.
- Associate it. You can create or use existing rhymes, short phrases, and acronyms (mnemonics) to help you remember things. For example, here’s a well-known rhyme to remember which months have only 30 days: 30 days have September, April, June, and November. Acronyms use initials or parts of words to create an abbreviated version that’s easier to remember. For example, the National Football League is known simply as the NFL.
- Sense it. Use all your senses to help you remember something that you forgot. For example, if you forgot where you put your keys, think about the last time you used them. What were you thinking and feeling at that time? What things did you see, hear, or smell at that time? Who were you with? Thinking about these things may bring up the memory of where you placed the keys.
- Create a routine. Get into the habit of doing things the same way or putting something in the same place. For example, to remember to take the trash cans out to the street for collection, create a weekly routine of taking the trash cans out first thing when you get home, before you settle into doing anything else. To remember where you put your keys, create a space for the keys, maybe a hook or a container near the door, and always put your keys there.
- Don’t overthink it. Sometimes the more you try to remember something, like a name or a place, the less likely it is that you will remember it. Take a break and think about something else for a while, or just relax and do something else. Often when you do that, the thing that you were trying so hard to remember will just pop into your brain.
Ever forget where you put something? Forget why you walked into a room? Forget something you were supposed to do or someplace you were supposed to be? Forget someone’s name right after you were introduced? It happens to all of us. Here are some tips to help you have less of those moments.
Terri Quenzer, PhD
Terri has a passion for good health and for helping others find happiness in themselves through better health! Through her scientific and life experiences, her goal is to help you reach your healthy goals!
Be The Healthy U!: nominated for San Diego's Best Nutrition/Cooking Classes of 2016!
Catch Terri's interview about plant-based nutrition on KCQB 1170 AM - click here.
How Not to Die: Terri interviews Michael Greger, MD below.
Terri speaks with Jordan Hoffman of Jordan Hoffman Acupuncture about what to eat and East vs West.