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Whether you’re an angsty teenager with your finals around the corner, a working mother with a million things on your to-do list, or a business professional hoping to improve your networking skills, the ability to memorize something important in a matter of minutes can be invaluable.
The brain is a powerful tool and by learning to harness that power, you can memorize a great deal of information within a fairly short amount of time.
Because we’re all different, certain methods may be more effective for one person than they are for another. However, there are a few methods that tend to work well no matter what your personal preferences, age or line of work may be.
Following are some of the best speed memorizing techniques to utilize in your daily life:
Make things memorable
The best way to remember something is to make it memorable. When I was a child, my mother taught me our phone number by adding a melody and turning it into a little song. This worked so well that to this day, I can still remember my childhood phone number.
We do it all the time for kids; we turn multiplication tables and days of the week into little ditties, or tell funny stories to help them remember difficult concepts, so why not do it for ourselves too?
Think of images to go with names you can’t remember, put information you need for your test into a song or come up with absurd or amusing stories that make it difficult to ever forget a phrase or word.
Use as many of your senses as possible
When you are trying to memorize something, it can help to use as many of your senses as you can to create a fuller picture in your mind. For example, if you need to remember the directions or are learning a new route to work or school, visualize yourself walking or driving to that location using the directions you were given.
If you are trying to remember the name of a place, like a specific shop or even street, you could come up with a picture for it and imagine how it would smell and what sounds you would hear there.
Keep in mind that your brain often blocks out unpleasant images or thoughts, so it’s best to use positive, colorful, vivid and humorous aids to commit things to memory. Also try to involve as many senses as possible, including taste, touch, sight, sound and smell.
Whether you’re in class, sitting through a long meeting or rushing out the door to run your errands, try to note down anything that stands out as important. Writing things down enforces them in your mind, and even if you never read back over your notes, you will likely still remember what you wrote down.
It can help to read your notes out loud right after you have jotted them down and if you have time later on, you should think of ways to further condense them as the shorter they are, the easier they will be to remember.
Another benefit of taking notes is that once you have things written out in list form, it also becomes easier to think of little songs, stories and pictures to go with each item.
Memorize in chunks
When you have a lot of information that you need to memorize all at once, it is better to break it down into smaller, more digestible chunks. Think of it as when you eat popcorn with your movie; you usually don’t pick up each piece of pop corn separately right? You grab it in handfuls or chunks.
Separate information that is related to each other into chunks and learn all of that at once. Then move on to the next section. You can then commit each chunk to memory by reading it over and over and maybe even coming up with images or songs and drawing pictures to go with it.
Take the different animal groups for example; we have mammals, reptiles, birds, fish and insects.
Imagine that you were asked to memorize a list of 40 animals in just ten minutes; without any organization that would probably be hard to do right? But once you separate the animals into their different groups, the same exercises suddenly becomes much more doable.
It can be difficult to remember something that is unrelated to anything you are already familiar with, so a good way to memorize new information is to create an association between the new data and old data that you have already stored away in your mind.
For example, if you often have trouble remember new names when you meet people, associate that person with someone you already know, either someone famous that they look like or someone who shares the same name.
For specific dates or times, you could associate that new date with an event you are already familiar with, like your birth date. If you are memorizing the pronunciation of a difficult word, think of a different word that sounds like the one you are learning.
Katherine White is an education blogger based in New Jersey. When not working, she usually enjoys surfing and baking her skin under the sun.