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Memory Aids

The first step to memory is UNDERSTANDING the material (see my notes on reading). Along with this advantage comes another: spending time with the material. The more time you spend reading and understanding the material, the easier it will be to recall.

Many studies have shown that one of the best ways to master material is to read related material. Read more than one book or article about the same subject. Your memory is much like pathways. The more you travel back and forth to a subject, the easier it is to pull that information up from memory when you need it.

If you have to resort to rote memory--for instance, if you have to memorize a list of items, then you may have to use mnemonic techniques. One such technique is to take the first letter of each item and create a word or phrase with the letters. This is a mnemonic trick to help trigger your memory. For instance, if you have to remember that the following elements are involved in a job: studio design, listing of materials, allocation of materials, and printing, you could arrange them in the following matter to facilitate memory:

Listing of materials
Allocation of materials
Studio design
Notice that the first letters spell out the word LAPS. Now all you have to do is remember the mnemonic LAPS.

For longer or more complex memory tasks, the middle ages created a method called the Castle of Memory. You might call it the House of Memory. Create in your mind a tour of a house, each room containing unique pieces of furniture. Keep touring this house and its contents until you can see them and remember them with no effort.

When you have to remember a list, mentally walk through your house and picture each piece of furniture beside an item on the list. If you mental "picturing" is strong enough, you will be able to remember the list.

Also, get plenty of sleep. Recent research (2014) has shown that when you are sleeping is when your brain makes new connections based on what you did that day. Lack of sleep can drastically damage your memory.

There are, by the way, many fascinating books about memory and mnemonics.

NEXT: Working in Groups

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Colby Glass, MLIS