This morning I made a pot of coffee and forgot to put the pot back on the burner. Naturally I didn’t notice until coffee came pouring down onto my countertop and eventually, my floor. My auto-pilot routine failed me.
As I was mopping up the coffee, I thought, “How on Earth did I forget to put the coffee pot back? I’ve been doing this every morning for years. Years!”
Memory is a tricky thing, especially without any coffee. In light of my forgetfulness this morning, I thought I’d pull together some memory retention hacks to help keep you sharp this work week and help me get through the day…
#LifeHacks: 7 memory retention tips:
- Brain food. There are a lot of foods out there packed full of nutrients to get your brain moving. Blueberries, for example have flavonoids that help improve memory, learning and overall cognitive function. Broccoli has a ton of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function and increase brainpower. Antioxidant-rich dark chocolate works too! The antioxidants and caffeine help increase mental activity and alertness. And, fatty fish, like sardines (yuck!) have the omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, which are linked to improved focus and memory. Eat up!
- Divide and conquer. Workloads can be daunting. When we take on more than we can do, we’re likely to get thrown into a tailspin. (Panic and brain-farts anyone?) To avoid the overwhelming feeling of having too much stuff to do, divide your workload into bite-sized, manageable chunks. Sprinkle some small easy-to-digest projects between the large, time-consuming items. A few quick wins throughout the day will leave you at ease and more stuff on your to do list crossed off!
- Doodle. Doodling gets a bad rap. If you Google the definition of doodling, you’ll find one result claiming doodling’s meaning is “to waste (time) in aimless or foolish activity.” Ugh! Doodling isn’t mindless or meaningless. In fact, one study suggests that people who doodle on average, retain 29% more information. Doodling helps people stay engaged, express ideas, increase creativity and store information. Don’t believe me? Check out the Doodle Revolution, by Sunni Brown. Brown has spearheaded a global campaign for visual literacy, focused on convincing people and organizations to embrace the art of doodling. It’s pretty cool!
- Take a break. This should come as no surprise, only one and five office workers admit to taking a break during the workday. Short breaks have been proven to increase productivity, sharpen focus and refresh the mind. Without breaks, your mind becomes fatigued. So step away from your desk, go outside and enjoy some fresh air!
- Listen to music. Studies have shown that listening to music stimulates memory, reduces stress and improves your cognitive performance on tasks. One study found that people who listened to music completed their tasks more quickly. They also came up with better ideas than those who didn’t, partly because the music improved their mood and overall happiness. Speaking of music, did you know that film scores are created to evoke a specific mood and keep the audience at the edge of their seats during specific scenes? Inc. wrote a particularly interesting article on the top film scores to boost productivity, check it out!
- Write, don’t type. Don’t forget about your pen and paper in this digital world! Writing notes, rather than typing them on a computer, has been proven to boost memory and increase your ability to retain information and understand concepts, according to a study by Psychological Science. Keep a notepad close to your computer, you might find that writing down notes and ideas just might improve your memory retention!
- Meditate. Quiet your mind, focus on your breath and escape your to do list. (Remember we told you short breaks were good for you!). Often, we’re forgetful because we don’t have time to pause and process. Adding a little mindfulness to your daily routine helps lower stress, increase productivity and improve clarity.
What do you think? What helps you improve your memory skills?