8 Best Memorization Techniques to Boost Productivity

memorization techniques

It’s funny how some of us struggle with memory lapses while others seem to have photographic memories. How many times have you opened the fridge, immediately forget why you opened it, and walk away without closing it? Do you forget names the moment you hear them, or do you sometimes have something on the tip of your tongue but just can’t recall its name?

Well, you’re not alone. Occasionally, we all forget deadlines, tasks, or even our children’s birthdays!

Poor memory can lead to poor productivity and hinder our performance, especially at work. If you’re tired of your forgetful mind and wish to boost your memory to start remembering anything with little effort, you’ve come to the right place.

Improving your memory is easier than it sounds. You just need the right memorization techniques that will enhance your memory and boost productivity.

What Is Memorization?

Memorization is the process of acquiring, storing, and retaining information in memory, so that it can be retrieved later. It’s a crucial skill that can help us learn and retain information, so we can recall it effortlessly.

In the workplace, memorization techniques can help us memorize anything from lists, presentations, handbooks, guidelines, job duties, names, and so on. The process of memorization involves three main phases:

  • Encoding
  • Storage
  • Retrieval

Encoding

In this stage, our brain comes across a piece of information and tries to perceive sound, image, color, physical feeling, or other sensory details. It then converts and categorizes the information into a form that can be stored and retrieved.

During encoding, the brain tries to make sense of the information received through our visual system (images, buildings, landscape), auditory senses (a distinct sound), or semantic encoding (attaching meaning or factual knowledge to this sensory input).

Storage

Once encoded, the information is stored in various parts of the brain. The neurons (brain cells) “talk” to each other about what the brain perceives, and build short-term or long-term connections.

The brain stores two kinds of memories: short-term memory and long-term memory. Both these memories weaken with age, making it harder to memorize things in old age.

Retrieval

Retrieval is the process of recalling information stored in the brain. Your brain replays or revisits the nerve pathways created in the storage phase. Repeatedly accessing this information helps strengthen those connections and your memories.

This explains why techniques like note-taking and using flashcards are effective in boosting your memory.

Why Is Memorization Important at Work?

Having a good memory can prove beneficial in the workplace for several reasons:

  • You become better at retaining information related to your job, including company policies, job duties, and procedures. Good memory also means you can remember details about coworkers and clients, like names, deadlines, addresses, etc.
  • Sharp memory helps you build and maintain strong workplace relationships. Remembering details like a coworker’s name, birthday, or favorite coffee flavor can build rapport and facilitate improved communication and collaboration.
  • It can boost your career advancement. Good memory skills mean you can retain crucial information that might prove useful in certain situations, like when making a presentation to top-level clients.

8 Memorization Techniques to Boost Productivity

Everyone has their own way of learning things and taking in information. That’s why we’ve categorized these memorization techniques into either verbal or visual memorization techniques. Go through each method and implement what works best for you.

Verbal Memorization Techniques

Do you find it easy to read instructions rather than watch how it’s done? Do you listen to lyrics and memorize every bit of it? Then you’re a reading/listening learner. Here are the top techniques to improve your memory and boost productivity.

1. Spaced Repetition

What it is:

You know how you learn something new and forget most or all you’ve learned by the end of the day? Turns out, our brains are forgetful in nature. Way back in 1885, Hermann Ebbinghaus depicted the “Forgetful curve”, which demonstrates how we forget things over time.

Fortunately, you can increase the time it takes to retain that information using spaced repetition.

How to apply it:

Write down the things you want to memorize and schedule intervals to review the material. Say you’re listening to a webinar about time management and productivity, and you’re taking notes. Set the notes aside for two days.

After the two days have elapsed, review the notes. Increase the interval to five days, 10 days, three weeks, two months, and up to a year or more. This makes your sessions challenging as you continuously digest facts and make them stick into your long-term memory. If you forget a word, you start over with shorter intervals, increasing the intervals with time.

Productivity tip:

Use spaced repetition when preparing a pitch or presentation. You can also combine verbal and visual memorization techniques to create flashcards. With flashcards, you write the question or term on the front with the answer or definition on the back. Try to guess the answer/definition before checking the answer.

A general rule of thumb when creating flashcards is one concept, one flashcard. The simpler the information, the easier it is for your brain to process.

2. Chunking

What it is:

Chunking entails grouping tasks together to make them easier to remember. You probably use chunking to memorize your phone number, bank account number, or social security ID.

You see, grouping information into small pieces makes it easier to remember the details of the bigger picture. But chunking can also be useful when trying to recall important information at work.

How to apply it:

Separate information into blocks, especially when trying to take in as much information as you can. Look for connections between each block or chunk to create memorable units.

Productivity tip:

Team leaders manage multiple projects or teams simultaneously, which can be overwhelming without a good plan. Chunking allows you to categorize projects by deadlines, client, or subject matter, or team members by location, time zone, or state/region. It can also help you remember the company’s growth numbers for a meeting.

3. Spelling Mnemonics

What it is:

We have all used mnemonics as kids. Whether to classify planets, plants, or animals, we created an acronym that’s easier to remember. For example, ROYGBIV is an acronym used to help us remember the colors of the rainbow – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.

Most of us have also heard of or used SMART goals, which stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based.

How to use it:

The concept behind mnemonics is to use retrieval cues to encode information in our brain that allows it to store information efficiently. The trick is to learn how to create mnemonics since they can be tricky to remember at first. But once you do, the details will stick in your brain for ages.

Productivity tip:

People working in HR, accounting, and logistics departments have a lot of information to deal with daily. As such, mnemonics can be a great memorization technique in their line of work. The same applies to doctors and nurses who must learn about various diseases and drugs used to treat them. It can also be useful to remember company policies or guidelines from the employee handbook.

4. Building Technique

What it is:

While recalling facts can help you make an excellent presentation at your company’s monthly meetings, you’ll come across as an expert if you show a deeper understanding of your field. This technique uses associations and connections to expand your expertise on a topic.

The concept behind this technique is that you remember easily when you understand a topic well.

How to apply it:

Don’t just try to recall things. Try to understand the meaning behind those things so you can express them more expertly. This trick is useful when trying to remember complex facts about a technical topic.

Productivity tip:

As a hiring manager, you’re tasked with remembering and reciting specific information about the company. You could write down a cheat sheet and use it as a reference point for important data or numbers during an interview. Or, you could memorize all the facts and recite them with ease.

5. Write it Down

What it is:

Handwriting has been shown to help make our brains more active. The act of physical writing triggers the reticular activating system (RAS), which helps the brain focus on what you’re actively doing.

Research has also shown that when you take notes by hand, you’re actively engaging the brain. And in most cases, you’ll tend to reframe the information in your own words, in a way that’s easier to remember.

How to apply it:

All you need is the good old pen and paper to jot down all the information you need. You can later review these details and use spaced repetition to memorize that information.

Productivity tip:

Using pen and paper has been linked to effective learning. Write down information from webinars, meetings, coaching sessions, events, or workshops. It makes it easier to remember the key highlights of these events. It’s also less distracting than using a laptop or tablet.

Visual Memorization Techniques

Some people are just not good at remembering instructions or what they have heard. These people tend to have great imaginations and like to think in pictures or mental images. If you belong to this group, use the techniques below to learn how to memorize something fast.

6. The Loci Technique

What it is:

Also known as the Memory Palace, the Loci Technique is a top memory enhancement method used by memory athletes. It associates familiar spaces you know well with information or items you want to remember to create a memory palace.

How to apply it:

Think of a place, building, or location you know inside out. This could be your bedroom, office, or favorite café. Mentally walk through this space, noticing each item in the room and taking mental notes.
Next, list the things you want to memorize, and begin assigning each item to a mental image. The idea is that you can take a mental trip in that space, visualize it, and retrieve memories based on the objects within it.

Productivity tip:

Use the Loci Technique to remember the names of coworkers, tasks assigned to each team member, or important points in your pitch. You can also use this method to make your presentation flawless instead of continuously referring to your laptop.

7. Mind Mapping

What it is:

Mind mapping is another memorization technique that works extremely well. A visual mind map lets you sort, filter, and remember information more accurately.

How to apply it:

Here’s a simplified version of how you can use mind mapping to improve your memory:

  • Take a table, article, or project you need to study, a piece of paper, and color markers.
  • Start with a picture or image that relates to your content. Why? Pictures are easier for our brains to remember or relate to, as this research paper shows.
  • Draw lines from the central image to the main branches on your piece of paper to reflect the structure of the material you want to cover. Consider using colors since they excite your brain.
  • Connect your second and third-level branch levels to the first and second levels, and so on. Remember, your brain works by association, and linking these branches makes it easier to understand and remember.

In the end, you get a structured diagram with the main idea at the center and logical links around it, as explained by Hazel Wagner in one of her Ted Talks.

Hazel Wagner, speaker and author, talks about mind mapping in Ted Talks.

Productivity tip:

Use mind mapping for goal setting and project management. If you manage complex projects, you can categorize them into distinguishable visuals. Mind maps can be powerful tools when working with teams to brainstorm ideas. If you’re a new employee, mind maps can help you quickly learn the products and services the company offers, distribution routes, etc.

8. Share Something You Learn with Someone Else

What it is:

One study demonstrated that if you learn something and then teach it to a co-worker or partner, not only will you understand the subject more clearly but also remember the information more accurately.

How to apply it:

Study the material you want to know and memorize, taking notes by hand in the process. Once you finish, put it into practice by teaching it to a friend, co-worker, or family member. By revising what you studied and speaking it out loud, you improve long-term memorization.

If you don’t have someone to teach, don’t worry. Pretend you’re teaching it to imaginary co-workers or friends, and explain the context of your material out loud.

Productivity tip:

Peer-to-peer learning is a powerful tool when it comes to employee development and skill building. By teaching each other, employees further develop the skills they already have, learn more useful skills in the process, and become better versions of themselves.

Tips to Enhance Your Memory

Besides these techniques, some habits can help boost your memory. These include:

  • Getting enough sleep. One scientific study suggests that sleeping not only protects your brain from forgetting, but it also helps make information more accessible.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercising increases the size of our hippocampus, the part of the brain involved with verbal memory and learning.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Healthy food feeds your brain the nutrients it needs to remember things.
  • Challenge your brain with mental activities, like puzzles, or learn new skills to keep your mind sharp.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Like anything in life, practice makes perfect. Keep practicing the memorization technique that suits you best, and you’ll find yourself memorizing things effortlessly.
  • Minimize stress and stress triggers in your daily life. When you’re stressed out, the brain releases cortisol and adrenaline in large quantities. So, instead of focusing on storing new information, it’s busy trying to deal with these chemicals.

Ready to Master Your Memory?

Now that you’ve learned how to memorize something fast, why don’t you go ahead and put that method into practice? Whether it’s at work or home, these memorization techniques can improve your ability to recall information.

Pro tip: You don’t have to overload your brain with tons of information. Thanks to technology, you can leverage digital tools to automate certain areas of your work life, especially those repetitive tasks. If you rely on schedules or manage a team of workers, time-tracking tools like Traqq let you monitor time spent on tasks and manage remote teams with ease.

You can even track the time you spend practicing a memorization technique of your choice to see if it’s taking up too much of your time. The tool offers timesheets and detailed reports that show your daily or weekly progress so you can adjust accordingly. Over time, you can use the data to develop better time management strategies that will make you more productive.

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