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Memory Frustrations? Simple Hints to Improve Memory

Andrew Marshall -- Whether you're a college student studying for an exam, or an employee worried about missing an important assignment, there are ways to improve your memory.

Frustrated that you have forgotten where you put down your keys for the third time today? Relax! It happens to everyone, and it is probably NOT an indicator of a more serious issue. Here are a few tips on how to improve memory recall -- like where your keys are.

Be more present

Distractions and inattention are a major source of poor memory. Most theories of how our memories work suggest that it takes several seconds of dedicated thought to commit a memory -- even for something you only need to remember for a short time.

As amazing as the brain is, it can only focus on one thought at a time. The perception that we can think about multiple things at once is really just our mind switching between different thoughts, thrashing instead of focusing. Having several different thoughts running through your mind inhibits the memory storage process.

When you need to remember something, try to calm your mind and focus on only that one piece of information. Take a deep breath, close your eyes and feel your mind slow down, then take 4-8 seconds to commit the information to memory.


Stress, especially stress about forgetfulness, impacts your mind's ability to store memories. Find ways to reduce your day-to-day stress levels and take time to unwind and rejuvenate.

If you are finding you are overloaded with stuff to do, consider writing a task list and working through them one at a time. Find ways to group tasks together so they can be completed quicker -- or delegated to another family member.

Evaluate whether tasks need to be done at all. By dropping tasks that are of low priority and will have no significant benefit to you or your family, you can create more time and focus for those that are.

Stay positive

We have all heard of self-fulfilling prophecies and we know there is a grain of truth to it. "I have a bad memory" is an example of one which is especially nefarious. It feeds your subconscious the message that you memory is lacking, depleting your mind of the means and energy to perform optimally.

This negative thought also causes us to be less present and relaxed exactly when we need to be the most and can lead to endless loops of worry and unproductive thoughts. Instead, take the steps you need to put your mind at rest; discuss your memory issues with your health care team if you need to.

Then make it your mindset that your brain is simply amazing and can accomplish anything, including great memory performance.

And as to those keys...

Perhaps you have more important things to remember (when was your anniversary again?). Some things can be simply automated, such as having a bowl near the front door where you drop your keys every time. People often attribute faults to the person (themselves in this case) instead of the real culprit, the situation. Simple tweaks to the environment often fix a problem.

Andrew Marshall has been fascinated by the topic of memory improvement for years. For more great information on how to improve your memory, visit his Web site at

© 2011 Andrew Marshall

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