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The Six Best Ways To Remember Things

Updated on October 5, 2014
Hmmmm.... now what was it I was supposed to remember?
Hmmmm.... now what was it I was supposed to remember? | Source
When we were young, remembering things seemed to happen much easier and without as much effort.
When we were young, remembering things seemed to happen much easier and without as much effort. | Source

Because If You Are Like Me, The Ole Memory Is Slipping From Time To Time! ~

I've always been able to remember things pretty well, especially when they are really meaningful to me and when I make that conscious effort to remember them. But I've found that as I've gotten older, some things can begin to slip through the cracks! And I'm not the only one it's been happening to.

Not too long ago my husband did the "I can't find my glasses" thing... "ummm.. they're on top of your head, dear". Besides, you should never put your glasses on top of your head anyway, because it bends the frames out of shape.

So, now since he's gotten new glasses, he just leaves them all over the place in the house when he isn't wearing them. Then later, we both get to run around looking for them when they are misplaced. Oh the fun of almost, someday... ehem...being a senior citizen!

The part of your brain most responsible for your memory, both long-term memories stored away and newer short-term memories that you've just put to memory, is called the hippo-campus. Well, my hippo-campus has been slacking lately and has caused me to search for tricks that I can use to remember things when I need to do that.

It seems like when we were young, remembering things was much easier and nearly effortless. Not always, but most of the time. In some ways, I think that learning and remembering things comes easier to the young than it does to us older folks. Sure we older folks can learn, which is evidenced by the examples you hear of, about people in their 80's and even 90's earning college degrees. But I think the reason we hear of them is because it is something that doesn't happen very often.

It's great to know some little "tricks" that can help you to remember those things that just might slip through the cracks from time to time. Here are six helpful tricks I've learned to help me improve my ability to remember things!

Remember Tying A String Around Your Finger?

I remember learning years ago that tying a string around your finger is one recommended way to remember something. I'm not sure that would work for me. What that amounts to, though, is creating something that is just a little bit askew in your world, something that will jar your memory so you remember what it is you were trying to remember.

This is a way of using your surroundings to help you to remember things. You can try moving something to an unusual place, put your watch on your other arm, or anything else that, when you do it, you think to yourself "now this is why I'm doing this, so I will remember this other thing."

For me, the best way that I use my surroundings to remember something is to use my cell phone. If I have something I have to remember to do at a certain time, I set my cell phone alarm for that time. That's a great way to remind yourself to do something you might otherwise forget.

With today's technology, cell phones can act almost as a virtual personal assistant. For example, I have a "notes" feature on my cell phone that I can use to write notes to myself. Since I always have the phone in my pocket, this is a very handy way to remember things. It is something useful that can be easy to overlook.

I've Used A Method Called Chunking For Years...

A great way to remember a list of things is to break that list up into little chunks and then remember the sections instead of trying to remember the entire list. Say you need to remember the steps to do something, like making toast. Write down the steps to do it, then break those steps into sections.

Take the first word of each step and use the first letter of each of those words. Make those first letters into an acronym and concentrate on remembering the acronym. That way, you'll remember the entire step for each letter. Here's an example for making toast.

1) Plug toaster in.

2) Open bread package.

3) Remove two slices of bread.

4) Put bread slices into toaster

5) Set lightness or darkness of toast

6) Push down on toaster handle

7) And wait and sniff that aroma of warm toast in the kitchen...

8) Remove toast carefully from toaster so you don't burn fingers.

9) Take a knife and spread softened butter on toast

10) You're ready to enjoy your nice warm piece of buttered toast

Sure, the acronym for that is P~O~R~P~S | P~A~R~T~Y which is a nonsensical acronym, but one that I made up for this example. This would work for steps that need to be remembered to do any task, like changing a flat tire, performing CPR or other tasks. Simply create an acronym to make those steps easier to remember, then the first word of the step for each letter of the acronym will most likely come back to you each time, and hopefully the entire step will follow.

Visualization Is Something Most Of Us Learned In School...

Creating pictures in your mind or even phrases is a way to remember something, and it's fun to boot! Just imagine you have a haircut appointment at 3:00. To remember the number three, try remembering something that comes in three's like the three musketeers. Remember that they carry swords in doing their "musketeer" work, and remember that the swords could be used to cut hair. You will then remember "hair cut at 3:00!"

OK, so maybe that's an overly simplified example, but it really does work if you can visualize something and have fun creating little scenes in your mind at the same time. Visualizations can even be used to help to remember a name. Say you want to remember a name like Tom Hamilton, remember a turkey running around (Tom) and for Hamilton, a pig standing at a microphone telling jokes... "Ham"... or "Ham let on"... "He' a bigger ham than he lets on." Soon, you'll find yourself remembering the guys name without even a whole lot of effort.

It can really be creative and fun to remember things this way! I always try to commit my license plate to memory whenever I get a new license plate for a car. I use visualization to remember it. I used to drive a car years ago with a plate that was something like SFV VFW.... I used the term "safe view" to remember it. That way in parking lots, I was always positive it was my car even from a distance.

It's fun to make up phrases using license plates, and this is even a fun game to play with kids on a long road trip! Simply make up phrases using the letters in license plates and see who can make up the most phrases in a certain length of time. It'll make that time on your road trip go faster, too!

And, I hope you never need to do it, but if a crime is committed and you really want to remember the license plate of a car this is a handy way to remember. It might just help you to accurately remember that license plate so you could give it to police later. Create a term in your mind that will help to to remember the letters on the license plate and you could be very thankful later that you did remember.

Remember Your Teachers Advice To Pay Attention?

There's a reason that teachers would tell you when you were in school to pay attention. This is another way of remembering things that are important and must be remembered. As a matter of fact, it takes a person approximately eight seconds of thinking of something in order to commit what they are thinking of to their memory.

When you must remember things, like facts for a test you are going to take, it is wise to read the information you're learning in a quiet room. You will want the room to be free from distractions like television, music, chattering of other people and cell phones. If you can fully concentrate on what you're reading and spend about eight seconds on the process of remembering each piece of information, you are much more likely to remember it later when you need it.

One way to also help you to remember is to repeat the information to yourself. You can do that out loud if that's helpful to you, or simply re-read the information and allow yourself to process it. You can use all the cute little memory tricks you want to, but in the end, if you haven't spent a little time paying attention to what it is you need to remember, those tricks won't do much good. You have to be sure you've spent the time required to commit the information from your short-term memory to your long-term memory.

Stay In The Best Health Possible To Enjoy The Best Memory Skills ~

This might seem obvious, but it is always smart to keep yourself in the best health you can possibly be in. Doing this will help you to be sharp and to be able to use your memory skills to the best of your ability. Get enough sleep if you know you have a big test coming up or you have to do something the next day that will require you to learn something new and to remember things.

The first day on a new job is always stressful and if you are learning a totally new job, that adds to the stress. Knowing that the person training you is not going to want to have to keep repeating things over and over, you will want to be as sharp as possible so you can catch on quickly and commit what they are teaching you to your long-term memory. If you arrive at your new job well rested and totally ready to learn, you will appreciate it and so will the person tasked with training you.

Get enough exercise to help to stay healthy and mentally sharp. It's important to take short breaks when you are learning something new and trying to commit new things to your memory. Try to take a short walk when you have a break. This can help to clear your head and when you go back to the task at hand, you will feel sharper and more focused when you've had some exercise. And as a bonus, exercise helps with stress, too.

Another thing to be aware of is that depression can help to rob you of some of your memory skills. If you know you have issues with depression, it is wise to seek help and to follow advice of your doctor. Depression can cause you to feel like you are lacking in concentration and can make learning things so much more difficult.

Depression causes your body to release more cortisol and this increase in cortisol is responsible for some of that foggy, unfocused feeling you can feel. When you can't concentrate, you probably won't remember things well, and that can lead to frustration and then can spiral. Getting treatment for depression is a good way to enjoy better health and overall quality of life.

Learning something new is a wonderful experience, but it can be stressful as well. Staying as sharp and as healthy as you can works wonders to help you to effectively remember things. Health is an important contributor to how well you are able to remember things!

Practice And More Practice!

No one becomes good at remembering things overnight, it takes practice to do that effectively. You can use time that would otherwise be wasted to practice memory skills. Say you have to stand in a line, try to remember something like a defining feature of each person in line, try to remember their face. Then look away and see how many people you actually remembered in the right order.

Or when you're in a restaurant or in a waiting room, pick out certain people and try to put a name to each person, then try to do some of these exercises to help you to remember each name. Visualize important features in a fun way, make up a story about each person and then try to remember the name you've given them.

When you've read something, quiz yourself to see how much of what you just read you've actually been able to commit to memory. This can help you to see areas you need to work on and can help to improve your memory. We all forget things from time to time, the important thing is to try to work on improving memory skills so we can retain more of what we learn and improve quality of life.

People are capable of learning new things from the time they are born until they are old. In fact. older people who remain sharp and focused are often happier and experience healthier aging, so get that memory going and see how much better you'll feel, it's worth it!

Do something new every day to challenge yourself. Next time you are on the Internet, try to learn something new. Keep your mind and wit sharp as you age, and when you get to be 100, you'll amaze the youngsters around you as you inspire them.


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    • KathyH profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Waukesha, Wisconsin

      Thanks, Sunshine! That is an excellent tip, I've done that too in parking garages, I can't even tell you how MANY parking garages there are in Las Vegas (A LOT I can assure you!) SO, I don't know where I'd be without camera phone pics... I just have to remember to delete them when I'm done! ;) Thanks so much for visiting and commenting, I appreciate that!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      7 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Yay taking mental pictures made your list! I do that a lot to remember things. Sometimes I cheat and take iPhone pictures too...such as remembering where I parked my car in a parking garage, I'll snap a photo of the level # and letter. Mental pictures work for me, as long as they don't drive me mental due to overload. Excellent hub!!

    • KathyH profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Waukesha, Wisconsin

      You're welcome, fjohn! So glad this is helpful! Thanks so much for reading and commenting, I appreciate it! :)

    • fjohn profile image


      7 years ago from india

      For me it is very difficult to remember things. Actually i was searching an article like this.... thank you for your valuable information

    • KathyH profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Waukesha, Wisconsin

      Thanks, travmaj! Hope you find those glasses, it's frustrating when you know you just had them a while ago and now can't find them! My husband and I both have done that. Thanks for your thoughtful comment! :)

    • travmaj profile image


      7 years ago from australia

      These are great suggestions for improving memory. Mine is cetainly foggy these days - I relate well to losing glasses - most days! I shall be using some of your techniques for sure. Thanks.

    • KathyH profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Waukesha, Wisconsin

      Thanks Dianna! I like using the visualization method too and "chunking" for when I need to remember a list of something. Thanks so much for reading and commenting! :)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      7 years ago

      Great suggestions to improve memory. I favor the visualization method as it really works for me. All great advice and well done.

    • KathyH profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Waukesha, Wisconsin

      Thanks, Graham! :) I love smiles!! So glad you and Pauline found one reading this! :) Thanks for your nice comment and for visiting. :)

    • old albion profile image

      Graham Lee 

      7 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Kathy. I am now 68 and Pauline is not far behind. We can relate to all you have said, I have to tell you that you have raised a smile in our house this morning. Well done!


    • KathyH profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Waukesha, Wisconsin

      That's neat, Beckie! I sure couldn't remember that many names, that's amazing! I'm thinking a piece of string wouldn't be enough for me either! I may need to buy some stock in the string factory! ;0 Thanks for your great comment! :)

    • KathyH profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Waukesha, Wisconsin

      Thanks, Gypsy! So glad you found this interesting and helpful! Thanks for your comment and for passing it on! :) I appreciate that!

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 

      7 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Wonderful suggestions. I did witness a gentleman on television who practices a form of "chunking" and it was amazing to watch. He greeted over 200 audience members as they filed through the door and ask each their name. After they were seated, he was able to go back and remember every members name by using a form of "chunking" process.

      Great article although the string method for me would require an entire ball of twine! LOL

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      7 years ago from Daytona Beach, Florida

      Voted up and interesting. Thanks for sharing this informative and useful hub. The mind must be constantly trained or we soon won't remember anything. Your ideas are very useful. Passing this on.

    • KathyH profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Waukesha, Wisconsin

      Thanks, Pamela! Glad you found some of these ideas useful! :) Puzzles are great for keeping your mind sharp, I love word search ones and sometimes crosswords as well. Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      7 years ago from Sunny Florida

      You have some very good suggestions for remembering things. I use a lot of post it notes. I also work puzzles and try to learn new things to keep my mind as young as possible. Very useful hub. Voted up.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      7 years ago from Sunny Florida

      You have some very good suggestions for remembering things. I use a lot of post it notes. I also work puzzles and try to learn new things to keep my mind as young as possible. Very useful hub. Voted up.

    • KathyH profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Waukesha, Wisconsin

      Hi Brandy! Thanks so much for reading and commenting! :) I've actually been able to learn from Googling, but only when I Google topics that are new to me and that I have an interest in learning! :) I compare Google today to the old set of encyclopedia's we had as kids. I wonder if they still sell paper sets of encyclopedia's? I'll have to look that up! Thanks for your comment!

    • BrandyMcNelson profile image

      Brandy McGhee Nelson 

      7 years ago from Arkansas

      Great hub! I will have to use these suggestions. I think using the internet to google things has really caused my memory to fade.

    • KathyH profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Waukesha, Wisconsin

      Thanks, xstatic! :) I think learning as an ongoing thing is fantastic, it really does help to keep a person sharp! I hope you remember that hub idea... I have actually done that. I've thought of a great idea for a hub right before I fell asleep then I spent all morning trying to remember it! Now I just use the handy "notes" feature on my phone, and no more "lost" (at least temporarily lost) hub ideas! :) Thanks for the great comment!

    • KathyH profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Waukesha, Wisconsin

      Thanks, Jools! What a NEAT idea to paperclip a note! I probably wouldn't have thought of that one, and it certainly would help you to remember the reason you put it there (the thing you needed to remember!) Thanks for your thoughtful comment! :)

    • KathyH profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Waukesha, Wisconsin

      Thanks, Billy! It's funny, I never needed post-its as much as I do today! :) Thanks so much for reading and for your comment! :)

    • xstatic profile image

      Jim Higgins 

      7 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

      Great advice for any age, especially mine! I think writing and reading as well is a great way to keep the mind nible as well, at least I hope so.

      Now what was that hub idea I had...??

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools Hogg 

      7 years ago from North-East UK

      Kathy, great hub. I used to do 'chunking' when I needed to remember things for exams and if I need to remember things, I usually write them down and paperclip the note to my collar, sounds daft but people will always say to me - "what's that note for?" and I then say "Oh God, yes, my note - I knew there was something I needed to remember."

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Good suggestions Kathy, and it is a very real problem as we navigate our fifties and sixties. I could not live without post it notes. LOL


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