I believe that memory can be improved by constantly relying on it. We have to put it to the test and try to use fewer memory aids (notes, lists etc).
Another great way to remember more is to occasionally review the information.
I was also interested in memory exercises for help wih my college studies. The only method of remembering that has worked for me was the "link" method, in which you imagine the objects on a list as images linked together. (bottle, knife, butter would be pictured as a bottle, a knive in the bottle, butter on the knife etc.).
The problem with such methods is that they are very hard to apply to academic learning, where the associations are much more complex and the terminology much more abstract. Personally I learn best by focusing on the material at hand and trying to read it critically, followed by occasional quick reviews. For simple things like a shopping list, they may actually be useful.