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How To Jog Your Memory: Forget About Absentmindedness

Do you frequently need to jog your memory because you’re always forgetting something? Tired of being absentminded?

Improving your memory can feel hopeless, but your recall ability will soar with the easy techniques provided in this guide.

We’ll show you how to organize information, use fun mnemonics (stop rolling your eyes), and perform regular mental exercises to significantly increase your memory function. Additionally, a healthy lifestyle, with adequate sleep, nutrition, and stress management, will also improve brain health and your ability to process and recall memories.

So, if you want to boost your memory and forget about absentmindedness(notice the pun), this post is for you!

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my link at no extra cost to you. Please read the full disclosure for more information.

Avoiding Sources of Forgetfulness

The abuse we often heap upon ourselves will significantly impact memory. These abuses include lack of sleep and exercise, overstimulation, and poor diet. (It’s necessary to feed your brain healthy food and allow it to rest so it can do its job as well as possible.)

Psychological factors, such as stress and emotional upheaval, also increase forgetfulness. See 19 Great Ways to Deal With Stress to learn about effective calming techniques if stress is affecting your cognitive abilities.

Thus memory retrieval starts with getting seven to eight hours of sleep at night, eating a balanced diet, daily exercise, and decreasing stress.

woman uses sticky notes to jog memory

Stop Multitasking

The urge to multitask can be overpowering due to time crunches and overly full schedules. But multitasking can get you into trouble.

Multitasking splits your brain. It’s physically impossible to give 100% focus to two things at the same time. How can you remember important details when you’re rushing through multiple tasks and only being half-focused on each?

Thus, you’ll sharpen your memory by ignoring the urge to multitask and avoiding it altogether.

Be Mindful of Zoning Out

Zoning out/dissociating is another memory thief. Every conversation and experience missed because of a wandering mind is a memory lost forever. It’s impossible to remember something that you missed in the first place.

Stay present and in the moment. Be mindful of every experience. Mindfulness increases mental focus and improves your ability to retrieve memories when needed.

Woman daydreaming at work

Effective Strategies to Jog Your Memory

We’ve talked about factors to avoid, and now let’s talk about strategies you can practice to improve your memory. Let’s learn how to take advantage of your brain’s capacity to encode (store information) and use it to jog your memory more efficiently.

Spaced Repetition and Review

Spaced Repetition is a learning technique where you review the same material at increasing intervals over time. This increases long-term information retention over time.

An example of this might be:

  • Initially review the information: after one day
  • Second review: after three days
  • Subsequent reviews: progressively spaced out (e.g., after one week, two weeks, one month)

Using repetition spaced over time helps your brain store and recall information that will be needed in the future.

Mnemonic Devices and Their Uses

Mnemonic techniques are mental shortcuts that enhance your memory. They allow you to encode and recall hard-to-remember information through association. Here’s a couple of examples:

  • Acronyms: Use the word HOMES to remember the Great Lakes (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior)
  • Rhymes and songs: Make up a rhyme or song consisting of information you need to remember as the lyrics. It’s useful for memorizing sequences or lists, such as the Alphabet song

Now, have a little fun and come up with your own Mnemonic!

The Method of Loci

The Loci Technique, or Method of Loci, is a mnemonic device that involves associating information you want to remember with specific locations or spatial environments. It taps into your brain’s spatial memory and visualization capabilities to enhance memory recall. Here’s how it works:

  1. Choose a Familiar Location:
    • Select a place you know well, like your home, a school, or a familiar route you often take.
  2. Identify Specific Locations within the Place:
    • Break down the chosen location into distinct areas or landmarks. For example, if you use your home, you could choose the living room, kitchen, bedroom, etc.
  3. Associate Information with Locations:
    • Associate each piece of information you want to remember with a specific location within the chosen place. Make these visual associations vivid and imaginative.
  4. Mentally Walk Through the Location:
    • When you need to recall the information, mentally walk through the chosen location and visualize each associated piece of information in its corresponding place. Voila! The memories will come to you!

Using these focused strategies can significantly improve learning and memory ability because they create strong neural connections.

Forgetful Woman

Memory Retrieval Techniques

The ability to recall information can also be enhanced by utilizing specific retrieval techniques. These methods use external and internal stimuli to boost your memory. Let’s explore a few useful techniques.

Cues and Triggers

When you forget something, introducing a cue or trigger related to the memory can improve recall. Memory cues act as signals that help your brain access memories that are not immediately available. For example, seeing a list can remind you of tasks you need to perform, and hearing a certain song can take you back to a moment in your past.

  • Corresponding Cues: Jog your memory by revisiting where you learned the information or lost an item.
  • Visual Cues: Writing down keywords or creating visual mind maps can aid memory retrieval.

Using Your Senses Can Jog Your Memory

Your senses play an integral role in the recall process. Sensory information, such as smell and sound, can be especially effective.

  • Smell: The scent of perfume or food can transport you back to specific events or periods in your life due to the strong connection between smell and the brain’s limbic system.
  • Auditory Cues: Recorded voices or sounds reminiscent of past experiences can also trigger memory retrieval.

Associating something you want to remember with a scent or sound can help trigger the memory when needed.

Jason Fischer, Ph.D., a cognitive neuroscientist at John Hopkins, noted in Wellandgood that when we want to find a misplaced item, it is helpful to remember the item’s texture instead of its appearance.

For example, when searching for a phone, imagine its cool, sleek, smooth exterior and how it feels in your hand. Then, think about where you last felt this sensation to jog your memory.

Physically interacting with objects or textures while learning can create a tactile memory. For instance, taking notes by hand rather than typing on a computer can engage your sense of touch and potentially improve memory retention.

The power of touch is stronger than the power of sight for some.

Association and Storytelling Methods

Associating new information with familiar stories or concepts can help jog your memory:

  • Connect new data with memories or information you already know well.
  • Craft a narrative or story incorporating elements of the information you are trying to remember.
    • Example: To remember a shopping list, create a story where each item interacts with one another.

As a student in nursing school, I would apply the information in my study notes to how I would use them in the clinical setting. I pictured various scenarios and circumstances where the information would be needed. It must have worked because I passed in good standing.

Association creates a network of related information in your mind. This practice makes it easier to retrieve target memories when needed.

brain puzzle pieces fitting to jog your memory

Cognitive Exercises to Boost Memory

Cognitive exercises are targeted activities designed to improve your mental sharpness and cognitive functions. Consistent practice leads to better memory retention and recall. Here are some specific ways to engage your brain and enhance memory.

Solving Puzzles and Playing Games

Solving puzzles such as crosswords, Sudoku, and jigsaw puzzles activates brain activity and can improve recall. Playing strategic games like Chess, Bridge, or Go requires foresight and planning, helping to sharpen decision-making skills.

  • Continually learn and master new games to challenge your cognition.
  • Compete against others as competition can improve cognitive skills.

Engaging in New Skills and Hobbies

Learning new skills stimulates brain neurons, which forms new neural pathways and allows electrical impulses to travel faster across them.

  • Choose activities such as learning a new language or a musical instrument that require intense mental commitment.
  • Practice regularly to reinforce learning and memory retention.

Pursue hobbies that involve complex tasks, such as model building or gardening, to improve concentration and attention to detail.

Practicing Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness and meditation involve focusing your attention on the present moment, which can improve your cognitive abilities and enhance memory.

  • Begin with short, daily sessions of meditation and gradually increase the duration.
  • Use guided sessions if you’re a beginner to help maintain focus and learn techniques.

During mindfulness exercises, become acutely aware of your senses and feelings without interpretation or judgment.

  • Integrate mindfulness into daily activities like eating or walking to enhance your ability to focus on one task.
  • Observe the impact of these practices on memory and overall mental clarity over time.

Incorporating Technology

In today’s digital era, there’s a wealth of technological solutions at your fingertips to help bolster your memory. Using apps and digital tools can transform how you store and retrieve information.

Memory Apps and Games

Memory-enhancing apps and games are specifically designed to train various aspects of your brain. For example, Lumosity offers brain-training games targeting memory, attention, and problem-solving.

Peak provides over 40 games aimed at improving mental agility. And CogniFit offers personalized brain workouts to sharpen memory and concentration.

Reminders and Digital Assistants

Set up reminders on your smartphone to support your memory. You can use built-in reminders or third-party apps such as Todoist or Evernote to keep track of important tasks and deadlines. They function as follows:

AppFunction
Built-in RemindersSets date and location-based reminders directly on your device.
TodoistOrganizes tasks with priorities and due dates.
EvernoteCaptures notes and lists and sets reminders for them.

Remember that digital assistants like SiriGoogle Assistant, or Alexa can also help you remember tasks. Give voice commands to set alarms, create shopping lists, or remind you of appointments.

improve your memory pin

Make Encoding Work For You

So, here are some suggestions to help make encoding work for you:

  1. Whenever setting an object down, such as keys, say to yourself,” I am placing my keys in the top middle drawer of my bedroom dresser.”
  2. Visualize an event as a mental image to integrate a visual sense into an experience. Describe the event verbally to add a second sense.
  3. Whenever you hear important information, always listen mindfully.
  4. When meeting someone, repeat the person’s name aloud at the introduction and then when you say goodbye. Notice what the person is wearing. Describe them in your thoughts and picture them in your mind when you look away.
  5. Always use as many senses as possible to encode information into your brain: vision, scent, auditory, and touch.
  6. Whether it is a parking space number or sights along the way to a destination, memorize signs and landmarks to mark a location. Repeat them verbally while visualizing them in your mind.

Concluding Jog Your Memory

In a nutshell, the entire process of encoding uses focus and mindfulness while implementing as many senses as possible to incorporate the memory.

Think of the brain as a storage shed. Put as many details as possible inside the shed. Encoding ensures the shed’s contents will be organized and available when needed.

Now, it’s finally time to show absentmindedness the door! But be sure you lock the bolt behind it by continuing to use these fun and easy techniques to jog your memory!

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13 Comments

    1. Eva, I’m so sorry about your mother. Dementia is a terrible disease. Hopefully, new treatments will be available in the near future. And you’re right, it’s vital to keep your mind well exercised to stay sharp.

    1. Thanks, Amanda! You will see for yourself what a difference it makes to jog your memory. I did it to while sitting in a waiting room and was able to remember all the little details! It really does work!

      Susan / Joyful Diva

  1. As an ICU/ER nurse, I had to multi-task to get all I needed to do done by end of shift. I would make list so I didn’t forget. But, now that I am a stay at home mom, multi-tasking usually ends in a million tasks half finished. It really does cause more work! This was a very helpful post because I’m finding that I am more forgetful, and definitely guilty of zoning out. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you, Ashley! As a nurse, myself, I fully understand the need to multitask. I’ve also found I don’t do it very well now that I’m older. So glad you enjoyed the article!

      Susan / Joyful Diva

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