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5 Ways to Improve Your Memory

Updated on February 8, 2017
ChristinS profile image

Christin is a natural health and wellness advocate with 20 years of experience studying and working in the health and supplement industry.

5 Simple Memory Enhancing Techniques to Make Learning and Life Easier
5 Simple Memory Enhancing Techniques to Make Learning and Life Easier | Source

Have you ever walked into a room and forgotten why you went there? Do you get frustrated trying to remember things like a simple grocery list without having to write the items down? If you struggle with short term memory loss or have trouble committing things to memory, you aren't alone. If you're middle aged or older, you're definitely less alone!

Some memory loss occurs naturally with age, but that doesn't mean you have to simply accept it. There are several memory enhancing exercises that can help improve your life and productivity at any age. Try some of these exercises the next time you need to remember something and see how well they work for you.

Mnemonic Devices

A mnemonic device is a learning technique that helps translate information into a form that makes it easier to retain than in its original form. For example, if you ever learned to read music, you were likely taught the sentence “Every good boy does fine” to help you memorize the lines of a treble clef.

It's easier to remember the sentence than the notes E G B D F by themselves. The first letter of each word, being the notes. The conversion makes it easier to commit the information to long-term memory. Mnemonics are a great way to build and enhance your memory skills. There are many variations and they can be used by anyone.

Here are five quick exercises to help enhance your memory. Try them and tasks like going to the store, remembering names, dates, phone numbers and other bits of information will be a piece of cake.

Different mnemonic strategies to make memorization and memory easier
Different mnemonic strategies to make memorization and memory easier | Source


If you are a visual learner or tend to remember things by sight, visual cues can be a great help to you.

Let's pretend you need to stop at the grocery store for a few items. It's one of those days you are in a hurry and don't really have time to make a list; you just want to hop in the car and go. The items on your list are eggs, milk, spinach, onions and cheese.

Instead of repeating the items over and over again in your head; you can visualize yourself making a dish that requires all of these ingredients. A quiche would be a great example. Visualize yourself making the dish in detail. As you go through the store, you'll recall the ingredients and therefore your list.

Acronyms and Acrostics

This serves as a visual and auditory cue. An acrostic is a word taken from a group of words or key concepts you need to remember and formed into a sentence. I mentioned “Every Good Boy Does Fine” earlier to remember notes. Acronyms are similar, but instead you take a word and each letter of the word represents a concept.

I have a spiritual mantra that I meditate on. I remember it by using the word “Twilight” as an acronym and symbol. Twilight is the period between darkness and the dawn. Spiritually, it symbolizes awakening, understanding, finding more clarity.

When I am doing meditation I like to focus on certain principles, and so I developed this acronym to highlight concepts: Truth, Wisdom, Insight, Love, Inspiration, Guidance, Highest good, Trust. As you can see, the acronym is a simple and effective way to help me remember the concepts I want to focus on.

You can develop meaningful acronyms and acrostics for all sorts of important concepts and information. Try it and see what creative ones you come up with!

Alliteration, Rhymes and Fun Sounds

If you're like me, you'll respond well to auditory information. Sounds, rhyming words, and even riddles can be a great way to commit things to memory. When I was in high school, I remember learning prepositions, words that are used to link nouns, pronouns, and phrases to other parts of a sentence. Our teacher required us to memorize the most common prepositions to make prepositional phrases easier to identify. Are you snoring yet?

To make this less tedious; she would say the list in a rhythmic way and clap it out. This was my 9th grade English class, which was more than 25 years ago. To this day, I can rattle off all the prepositions in her list and I still "hear" them in my head to that same rhythm.

About, above, across, after, against, along, amid, among, around, at etc... there were over 70 of them. Looking at a list of 70+ random words would be daunting, but because she repeated them and sort of sang them to a beat as she clapped they stuck. Boy did they stick! Like I said, over 25 years and I can still clap them out for you.

Perhaps you remember being taught rhymes like “30 days hath September, April, June, and November. All the rest have 31, except February alone which has 28 days clear or 29 in a leap year.”

If you remember things like this; you will benefit from auditory forms of mnemonics.


This is where you break off a series of items into smaller clusters to make them easier to remember. Phone numbers and social security numbers are great examples. When you speak your phone number or social, chances are you naturally pause where the dashes are.

123-45-6789 is the format for a social security number and you probably have yours memorized in the 3,2,4 fashion. This is a perfect example of chunking.

For another example; let's use a grocery list again. Let's say the items are milk, eggs, lettuce, tomatoes, yogurt, bread, butter, carrots, mayo, and strawberry jam. That's a lot to try to remember in that order. If you chunk it though it's much easier.

Produce: lettuce, tomatoes, carrots

Sandwiches: bread, butter, strawberry jam, mayo

Dairy: milk, eggs, yogurt

Now things are chunked into categories and are much easier to commit to memory than just trying to remember a random list. You can do this by type of food (sandwich), or by the section of the store(produce, dairy). It can also be combined with the visualization technique from above.

Method of Loci

This is another fun one for more visual people. This involves taking items you need to remember and visualizing them at various places along a route or path you take every day.

So, let,s say you take a particular route to work and on that route, there is a large yellow house, a convenience store, a playground and an Italian food restaurant. You would visualize the items you need to remember as being in those locations.

This one has never worked that well for me honestly, but many people swear by it. If you needed to remember milk, eggs, bread, and potatoes, you might visualize yummy bread being served in the Italian restaurant, the yellow house might remind you of the yolk of the egg, you might see milk spilled on the floor of the convenience store and the kids on the playground might remind you of “little spuds”

Associating new things with established memories has been shown to make the new information easier to store and retrieve.

More on Method of Loci

More Tips for Enhancing Memory & Learning
Relate new information to things you already know. This makes assimilation more natural. Involve as many senses as possible when learning or trying to remember.
Develop habits that prevent problems. Have a set location for your keys and always return them there immediately upon your return home.
Pay attention. If you aren't listening and engaging you aren't learning. “hearing” is not “listening”. Hearing is what your ears do, listening is what your brain does.
Rehearse information. In your mind visualize yourself teaching another person how to do what you just learned. It will reinforce it.
See the forest and forget the trees. When information is too complex, sometimes we make it worse struggling with all the small details. Grasp basic concepts first, then delve deeper.
Play games. Memory enhancing games are fun and can keep your mind sharp. Cognitive decline is preventable, but the mind, like any muscle, must be exercised to remain strong.

Do you use mnemonics to help remember information?

See results

© 2014 Christin Sander


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    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 2 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks so much for the read and share Audrey - much appreciated :)

    • brakel2 profile image

      Audrey Selig 2 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      These are all great ideas, Christin. My husband might like to use some of these techniques. A relative took a course that taught the techniques for learning associations to pass a difficult test. Chunking is a good one, and I have used it for numerous phone number memories. Must read this over again to get the full benefit. Sharing. Blessings, Audrey

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 2 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks peach, there are some things where writing down isn't practical and that's when these devices work :)

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      wow interesting, i thought that writing down would be better and reliable.

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 3 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks Chinaimport, my son is a very avid chess player and at the top of his class, interesting :).

    • Chinaimport profile image

      Kamal Mohta 3 years ago from Guangzhou

      I never heard of mnemonics but I always broke down information in small manageable parts to help me recall when needed. I instinctively used most of the techniques described in this article.

      Solving puzzles, playing chess or similar games of strategy can also help. Thanks for sharing this interesting hub.

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 3 years ago from Midwest

      no problem peeples, I hope some of them help a bit. Some subjects just don't "stick" as well as others. Good luck in your classes! :)

    • peeples profile image

      Peeples 3 years ago from South Carolina

      I actually think the method of Loci might actually work for me. I tend to remember other things that way. Now if I can figure out how to apply that to my English class somehow. The Mnemonic device might actually work for me better for English though. Thanks for directing me here!

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 3 years ago from Midwest

      I agree seanorjohn, it can definitely help everyone and you would think it would be to the benefit of all students to learn some of these techniques in a more structured way. I guess we're too busy teaching for tests - and not developing life skills perhaps? Thanks for reading and commenting :)

    • seanorjohn profile image

      seanorjohn 3 years ago

      Very interesting hub. It's surprising that schools don't teach memory techniques in a structured way. It seems to be hit or miss if a teacher intoduces this very powerful tool. Voted up

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 3 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks for reading and commenting Ann, it's great to get an educators perspective on the techniques.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      These are all techniques which are essential when teaching dyslexics. I've found mnemonics, chunking and rhyme/music are usually the best. Like you, the method of loci doesn't 'click' well with me so I don't tend to use it.

      I use a lot of visual cues with students and lots of colour coding.

      Whatever works with each individual is the best for him or her!

      Useful hub for all ages. Ann

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 3 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks Beth :) hope they work for you.

    • bethperry profile image

      Beth Perry 3 years ago from Tennesee

      Wow, very interesting tips. I don't have too much trouble remembering faces, proper names, dates and phone numbers, but I am terrible on remembering directions. Thanks for sharing; I may have to try out some of these techniques and see if they help with the directions problem.

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 3 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks grand - glad you enjoyed the hub and found something that will help you :)

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 3 years ago from Philippines

      My memory isn't what it used to be and your tips will be very helpful, especially chunking. Phone numbers are my waterloo, with cell phones and stuff. Chunking will help me out.

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 3 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks Jan :) maybe one day I'll get the pot too ;) lol oh well, I'm happy just to get chosen.

    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 3 years ago from Washington, DC

      Congrats, ChristinS. I knew you'd make the cut with this one. :-)

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 3 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks Faith :) I used similar strategies in school, the last time I was in classes a few years ago I would record my notes on MP3 and then listen to them on the way to class - did very well on tests that way, but I'm an auditory person. I think the mnemonics are very cool too, especially for visually oriented people. There are many of these techniques too, and I suspect what works for us at some points in our lives changes over time. Thanks for the votes and shares :) much appreciated!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      I sure do need to use more of these techniques about now! LOL In college, I would wear a memory path into my brain by either repeating something over and over, by reading it, then reading it out loud, then writing it down and then outlining. That was the only way it would stick in my brain.

      I have not heard of mnemonics before, but have used some of the techniques.

      Up and more and tweeting, pinning


      Faith Reaper

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 3 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks Flourish glad you enjoyed the hub :)

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      I couldn't have made it through college and grad school without some of the techniques you provide. My favorites are acronyms (I love your "twilight" example) and chunking.

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 3 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks Jan :) the feedback and votes are much appreciated!

    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 3 years ago from Washington, DC

      This is great information, ChristinS. Lord knows I could use the techniques in this hub. Very informative and well presented. Thank you for the tips. I have used chunking and variations of mnemonics to remember names. I like the one for remembering grocery lists. Excellent job, luck to you on making today's top ten in the challenge. Voted up and useful.