If there’s one task that often feels insurmountable, it’s memorizing a phone number at the drop of a dime or even remembering when someone’s birthday or anniversary falls on. Many times, feats of memory are reserved for Masters students studying for exams or those with unique gifts like hypesthesia.

Top Secrets Behind Memorization

But memory can be thought of like a muscle. The more a person exercises it, the stronger it becomes. And developing a strong memory isn’t just the task of those with academic goals in mind. In fact, there are a variety of professional and recreational pursuits where memory plays a critical role.

For example, poker is one of the most popular card games in the world. One of the first skills players have to master is memorizing poker hand rankings, which often have nicknames like California and Kansas City, which stand for Ace to Five and Deuce to Seven ranking types. In fact, there are over two million potential hand combinations.

Outside of games like poker, other professionals like color commentators for sports rely on their memories. For the first, broadcasters need to know player names and numbers, as well as their position and talents—though they get a bit of extra help. For an American football team, these might mean knowing detailed information on over fifty players for a single team.

While learning the basics of memorization might feel overwhelming, there are a few secrets that professionals of all stripes use to improve their minds. Let’s take a closer look.

Cover the Basics

One of the hallmarks of quick and accurate thinking, the basis for memory, is physical wellness. This means before anyone can improve their memorization skills, they’ll need to cover the basics like diet, sleep, and exercise. Without focusing on these three core elements, the brain won’t have the tools it needs to develop new memorization skills.

Diet, sleep, and exercise habits can be optimized differently for everyone. Keep in mind that routine is often the easiest way to maintain healthy habits.

Focus the Mind on a Single Topic

Now let’s move on to the brain. Aside from quick and accurate recall, attention is also at the core of improving the memory. The ability to focus the attention on a single topic is how a short-term memory can be logged into our long-term memories.

So, what does this mean? Anytime you sit down to tackle a new subject, whether poker hand rankings or the New England Patriots’ offensive squad, minimize distractions. Let the mind become absorbed in a single topic by lessening audio and visual stimuli.



Secrets Behind Memorization

Create Memory Clusters & Mnemonic Devices

Memory tends to respond to certain mental tricks. Two of these are memory clusters and mnemonic devices. To create a memory cluster, simply organize relevant information into specific groups—the mind responds well to linking different concepts. And don’t be afraid to create unique clusters that may have an intuitive or personal interrelationship.

Mnemonic devices are specific ways to remember information, like associating terms with certain concepts or images. For example, many people first learn the alphabet by singing the letters in a specific tune, which is a type of mnemonic device.

Don’t: Cram at the Last Minute

Memory is linked with consistency, meaning that those who try to cram last-minute information into their minds aren’t likely to remember much. Rather than try to create a single marathon to memorize something, try to schedule in smaller sessions over a longer period of time.

Don’t: Stick to One Method

So far, we’ve covered quite a few different secrets for improving the memory. However, just like each person will create a unique routine related to their sleep, diet, and exercise habits, they can do the same for their memorization goals. Just like the body, the brain is unique.

This means some people may respond better to different methods of memorization. Some will swear by mnemonic devices and memory clusters, while others will simply want a quiet, isolated area to focus their attention. Don’t be afraid to try out new methods as you discover them.


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