7 Ways to Never Forget Anything Ever Again

Katie Sweeney
PHOTO:

Phil Oh for Vogue

It doesn’t matter how old you are. At some point or another, you will forget something—especially with so much going on in the world these days. While genetics affect part of your memory skills, according to Gary Small, the director of the UCLA Longevity Center, “About two-thirds of what determines how well we age comes from non-genetic factors—as in, our everyday behaviours.” Thus, if you make some small changes now, you can naturally build up brain strength and increase your memory skills. Here are seven changes Prevention recommends we make in order to never forget anything ever again.

1. Move your stuff in. Find permanent homes for items you use every day. Your keys, wallet, cell phone, glasses, and smartphone charger should all have a specific spot where you always place them. You’ll never have to stress about finding your phone or keys if you always put them in the same place, and this will lessen the load your memory has to carry. Also use certain daily actions—like grabbing your keys before you leave the house—to cue reminders. When you’re reaching for your keys, always ask yourself, Do I have everything I need for today?

2. Take 60 seconds to practice on people. Try introducing yourself to someone new each day. When you do, focus so you don’t miss the introduction and automatically forget their name. Then frame the name so you can remember it. Framing means to create a memorable mental picture of the name. When you meet someone named Mary, imagine her drinking a Bloody Mary. This will help you better remember the name in the future.

3. Associate like crazy. When you can’t remember something, say the name of an actor, think of things you associate with it, like his movies or costars. Small explains it like this: “Our memories live in neighbourhoods, so a neighbouring memory could trigger the word you’re looking for.”

4. Tell a good yarn. Remember a list of things by coming up with a random visual story that links them together. The more creative the story is, the more likely you are to remember it. “If I know I need eggs and stamps and to pick up the dry cleaning, I see myself holding a big egg with a stamp on it, and the egg slips, getting on my pants, so I have to go to the cleaners,” Small says. “Exerting that mental energy creates a cognitive framework that helps you retrieve the information later.”

5. Play brain games. There are all sorts of apps with games that improve concentration, adaptability, and task-switching skills. Some good ones to try out include Cut the Rope, Civilisation, and Lumosity.

6. Exercise the recall muscle. Every day before you say goodbye to a loved one in the morning, zero in on one article of clothing that they are wearing. Remember everything about it, from the colour to the pattern. When you get into bed at night, try to recall all of those details.

7. Struggle. Challenge your brain by finding an alternative route to work, using your nondominant hand to brush your hair, or wearing your watch upside down. Forcing your brain to make a conscious effort is good.

Read Moonwalking With Einstein to learn more about the art and science of remembering everything.

How do you remember things? Share your tricks in the comments.

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