I'll be the first to admit that my memory isn't what it was when I was 20-years-old, and I bet many of you would say the same even if you're only 25-years-old.
That can become a problem in the workplace, where you may have to recall a client's name you met two years ago or remember exactly why a project ran into manufacturing turbulence last quarter.
With so much information coming at us, it can be difficult to hang onto everything in our brains. Why, for example, can you remember the name of your third grade teacher but not the hotel you stayed at two nights ago?
Several studies suggest that you may be able to improve your memory by grouping multiple items into related groups. For example, when test subjects are given a list of words to recall in any order, they tend to remember them in similar groups, such as fruits or vegetables.
Memory experts believe that learning to cluster words speeds up recall responses and working memory capacity.
Try it with things you're trying to remember at work, as well as these other methods for improving memory:
- Set up a routine. If you're always searching for your keys, make sure you designate a place at work and put them in the same place every day. Same thing with your unopened mail or items that need to be filed.
- Stop multitasking. I know, I know. You're one of those amazing people who is capable of writing an email, talking to a colleague on the phone and doing deep-knee bends. But your brain isn't functioning at it's best when you drag it in different directions, and studies have shown when you multi-task you are less likely to recall what you have learned.
- Get enough sleep. Successful people like Arianna Huffington are touting the benefits of getting more sleep, citing studies that show it's critical to your physical, mental and emotional well-being. No one has to know you went to bed at 10 p.m. if you feel like you're a wimp for getting more than four hours of sleep a night. Your improved memory and performance will be a big payoff for your career.
- Pause. If you're having trouble recalling some information, take a quiet moment and try to place yourself back in the place where you originally heard the information. Think about the conference room where you and colleagues were discussing a new timeline for a project. How did the discussion begin? Who was present? What was the mood of the room? Recalling those aspects can help trigger your memory and enable you to remember more specific information.
What are some ways you keep your memory sharp?