The process of getting the ultimate memory skills you want does take training, practice, and repetition as you teach your brain to efficiently receive, store, and recall important information. However, there are a few simple things that you can do regularly to make sure that you’re functioning at the level you need to be to get the most out of your memory practice.
Take five minutes to relax before you start your studies. If you’re feeling any kind of pressure, your system will produce stress hormones and your mind and body will start to go into “fight or flight mode” – and that’s not the state of mind you need to be in for study! While it’s important to put in the time for study, it’s also important to keep a balance in your life, so if you’re feeling stressed out today, it’s okay to postpone your memory training until tomorrow. You’ll get more out of it, and feel healthier all around. This five-minute relaxation break is also an excellent thing to do before giving a presentation or taking an exam. The same stress hormones prevent quick recall of information because they interfere with the normal signals of the brain. If you’re more relaxed, you’re more likely to be able to give that speech smoothly and fluently, or remember the detailed answers to the questions on a test.
Take five minutes to go over what you’re about to do. This mental rehearsal does two things, First, it helps organize your thoughts so that you can approach your studies or your presentation in an orderly fashion. In a sense, it’s like packing a suitcase for a trip, and putting the things you know you’ll need on arrival at the top and the clothes you won’t need until the last day of your trip at the bottom. Everything will come out of the suitcase in the order you need it. The second benefit of this mental rehearsal is that you’ll be able to “see” yourself performing, completing, and succeeding at your task. This will increase your confidence and help you relax so that you can remember everything you need to do or say.
Take five minutes to review what you just studied and learned. Studies have shown that repetition of information within the first half hour does more to secure that information in memory than waiting to review the next day. Think about it: what’s more efficient, taking five minutes to review what you just spent an hour learning, or taking another hour the next day to go back over everything you forgot?