Ready to turn your memory into a “steel trap?” Here are some proven ways to boost your memory and the science behind why they work:
Memory trick #1: Concentrate on what you need to remember for eight seconds. Studies show that’s the minimum amount of time it takes for a piece of information to go from our short-term memory to our long-term memory. Meaning, whether we want to remember someone’s name, or where we parked our car, the information’s more likely to stick in our brain if we focus on it for at least eight seconds.
The second memory trick: Take notes on a computer using weird fonts, like a fancy Edwardian Script font, that makes everything cursive and hard to read. Research shows that when something is unfamiliar and difficult to read, we’re forced to concentrate on it more, and in turn, we’re more likely to remember the information. Experts say that’s the opposite of what happens when we highlight something or type it in a larger, bolder font because that only tricks us into thinking something will be easier to remember. So we actually focus less on the information and forget it faster.
But if you can, it’s actually better to write things out, not type them: It doesn’t matter if you never actually read back what you wrote because, according to studies, just the act of writing something allows you to recall it in a way that touching a keyboard doesn’t. That’s because forming letters by hand stimulates the part of your brain that filters and processes your thoughts. And studies show that students who handwrite their notes find it easier to remember what they’ve learned later.
One more proven memory trick: Exercise. Physical activity causes our heart to pump more blood to the brain, which provides oxygen that boosts cell growth and improves our memory. That’s why many people report feeling more alert and able to recall things right after a light workout.