This article is a review and an expansion of all the systems we have learned so far. I will take new information, and you can try it with the different systems.
Let’s use a famous quote with a lot of ideas in it but no pictures. I will use the quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“To laugh often and much. To win the respect of intelligent people. To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends. To appreciate beauty. To find the best in others. To leave the world a bit better. Whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or redeemed social condition. To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
We can use any of the methods you have learned to remember this. You can create pictures that lead to one thing or the other. You can use mind mapping. In this example, we are going to use the car method.
First, laughing to gain the respect of intelligent people. Imagine Stephen Hawking (intelligent person) laughing on your front bumper. Then there are children hugging the hood of your car—for the affection of children. Then a bunch of hornets on your windshield criticizing your car (honest critics). Yet the hornets point to you and say that you are all right (appreciation).
Next, you have a false friend breathing fire out of your dashboard. You pull out a hose and put the fire out. So, you endured the betrayal of the false friend.
On the passenger seat next to you is an attractive person. (You can create your own, depending on your gender and sexual orientation.) This person applauds you for taking care of the fire breather. So, you have appreciation form beauty (appreciation of beauty).
Now try reciting the virtues form Ralph Waldo Emerson up to an appreciation of beauty. Just go through the car so far and see the pictures. Remember that if a different picture beside the examples works better for you, use it.
Sitting in the back seat, we have two people with gold medals on them. They are the best people (find the best in people). They dust off the seat and disappear. So, they left the world a bit better. Then you see a child with a stethoscope around their neck. He or she is a healthy child.
You go outside and open the trunk. There is a garden patch in the trunk. Then you look down at the wheels; they have diagrams telling you about social conditions. This represents improved social conditions.
Finally, you look at the rear bumper. It is pulsating to represent breathing easier. That is the final virtue.
Now try reciting the virtues. If you made clear connections, you should be able to do it. If you have trouble with any of the virtues, you go back to it and make a clearer picture. Often thinking about it longer is enough.
There is another factor in remembering and forgetting. The primacy and recency effect. This means that when you have a list, you are more likely to remember the first and the last few items. The items in the middle are affected by what you already learned and the items you learned afterword. The first and last items are only affected by one of these factors.
If you forgot any of the items, it is more likely to be in the middle of the list. But if you make strong enough connections, it will not matter. You will remember it all using the methods. Remember, the methods are the body, car, pegging, mind mapping, and drawing your own pictures. This is important to remember if you make a speech. The points that you want to make are best if you make them at the beginning or at the end of the speech. Your audience is suspect to the primacy and recency effect.
The floor is an acronym for what people will remember the most from a presentation. ‘F’ is for first things. ‘L’ is for last things. ‘O’ is for outstanding information. The next ‘O’ is for own links. ‘R’ is for repeated information.
Using the memory techniques works well for making a speech. Your delivery will come across much better when you sound natural and confident. It will come across poorly if you read from a script. This is the case whether you make a speech for a thousand people, teach a class of 30 people, or do a class presentation for ten people.
Have you ever had a senior moment in the house? Maybe you’re ready to go out somewhere, and you realize that you have not brushed your teeth. You walk to the bathroom and forget why you are there. This happens to everyone at times. The expression ‘senior moment’ represents senility. These forgetful moments have another explanation, and it is not senility.
Every time you go into a different setting, your mindset changes. This includes going from room to room. So, if you do not consciously focus on the item you seek, you will not remember it because you have moved into another room. So, it has nothing to do with senility.
This tendency is also due to a concept called ‘Automatic Pilot.’ Most of our day, our subconscious mind directs our actions. We only use our conscious mind when we do something that we do not normally do. Describe in five seconds how you start a car. Unless you are a recently licensed driver, you can’t do it. You do it so automatically.
This is why you sometimes forget why you came into a room. The solution is to keep the item in your mind the whole time you walk to the next room. That way, it will be in your conscious mind.
Most people who have the forgetful moments do not have them that often. You just make them a big deal. You would not tend to remember when you did find the item because it was what you expected. Keep in mind that it is likely that you find what you look for about 90 percent of the time.
When you put anything down, be conscious of where you put it. Not only focus on where you put it but create a bizarre picture of where you put it. For example, you put your keys in the same dresser drawer. Imagine a thousand tiny keys screwing the interior wood in the drawer in an attempt to escape.
Single-tasking is another trick to improve your memory. In our society, we value multitasking. Most people are under so much pressure to get things done that it is admired to tackle a plethora of tasks. Yet studies have shown that when someone multitasks, they do not do any one task as well as if they did one at a time.
Your memory is put to better use when you single-task. When you focus on one task at a time, you will remember it and master it better than if you had interference from other tasks.
It is important to think about your successes with memory more than your forgetful episodes. This is like everything else you learn. When you learn a new sport or a musical instrument, it is more important to focus on the things you do right than to dwell on the mistakes you made. This is because when you dwell on a mistake, you commit it more to memory and are more likely to repeat it.
When you have a lot of information to memorize, it is best to break it down over many days. This idea is important for students. Having taught college before, I have observed that the best students study by distributed practice as opposed to massed practice.
Distributed practice is when you take a little each night and learn in chunks. Then the next night, you review the old and then learn the new information. Massed practice is what college students call ‘Cramming.’ They wait until the night before and try to learn all the material in one night. Usually, they do this with a lot of coffee, soda, and energy drinks. It does not usually work.
Make sure you have a purpose, an interest, and curiosity for learning the material. Thinking that you will just learn it for the exam or the speech will not motivate you. In the next paper, I will write more about how to make the material interesting.
Taking short breaks can help you remember more. Some studies have shown that when you study for hours, every later hour is less productive than the previous. Yet when you take a break for fifteen minutes to a half hour, the count goes back to the first hour. So, it makes sense to take a break—not only because it relieves stress, but it makes you learn more.
For review, plan your time. Break the material down so you know what you will study each night. Single-task and take breaks. This will improve your memory to memorize anything.