10 ways to improve your memory at work

Keep forgetting your clients'/colleagues'/boss's names? Try these quick tips from memory expert Chester Santos.

by Chester Santos
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2019

We live in an age when the internet, AI and voice recognition bring the things we need to know within instant and easy reach. However, when striving for competitive advantage in a business environment, it’s too easy to focus on the latest big idea or new IT solution and overlook the simple things that can set our performance apart.

People want to do business with people they trust, and memory has a vital role to play in creating this trust and confidence. Never being stuck for a name or always staying top of key facts and figures will give you an edge in many situations, and will help you make sound decisions more quickly.

Your memory is one of your most powerful business tools – here’s how to unlock its full potential: 

1. Visualise

Take whatever you are trying to remember and turn it into a simple image or series of images.  We are very good at remembering things that we see. 

2. Involve additional senses

The more senses that you involve, the more of your brain you’ll be using and the more connections in your mind you’ll be adding to the information, so it will be much easier to remember.

3. Use your imagination

Make what you are seeing in your mind crazy, unusual and extraordinary so that you can take advantage of the psychological aspect of your memory.

4. Build a story

Try to remember this list of words – monkey, iron, rope, kite, house, paper, shoe, worm, envelope and pencil.

Instead of memorising the list with brute force, try to visualise the story I describe. Picture a monkey dancing around making monkey noises.  The monkey picks up an iron.  The iron starts to fall but a rope attaches itself to the iron.  You look up the rope and see the other end attached to a kite.  The kite now crashes into a house which is covered in paper.  A shoe appears and starts to walk on the paper.  The shoe smells bad so you look inside to find a worm crawling around.  The worm jumps into an envelope and a pencil starts to write on the envelope. 

Read through the story just one more time whilst visualising everything described. See it like a movie or cartoon playing in your head. Now, go ahead and recite all of the random words from memory simply by going through the story in your mind and recalling each major object that you encounter. 

5. Remember names

Forgetting the names of people that you meet doesn’t exactly create a good impression. You can improve your recall by taking a person's name and turning it into a memorable image.  

Peter might become Peter Pan. Better still visually connect the powerful visual to a unique aspect of the person's look using a story that incorporates more senses while also being unusual. If Peter has big ears, you could see Peter Pan flying out of one of his ears and when this happens it makes such a loud noise that it irritates your ears. This might seem pretty silly but I promise you this technique works because it's based on how the person looks.

6. Focus and Pay Attention

It may seem obvious, but the tips above won't help unless you focus and pay attention.  

7. Review before you sleep

Review important information just before you go to sleep. You’ll wake up the next morning knowing the information much better than you did the day before. 

8. Use it or lose it

Using your memory more will strengthen it; your brain is like a muscle that gets stronger with practice.

9. Food for thought

Omega-3 fatty acids are important for proper brain function and memory so eat plenty of fish or consider taking a fish oil supplement.  

10. Prioritise sleep

Lack of sleep is one of the top memory killers.  You need to get a regular seven hours per night if possible.

Anyone can improve their memory with training and practice. Invest some time in developing your memory because even in the Google age, remembering certain things can give you a huge advantage in business. 

Chester Santos is a memory skills expert, speaker and author.

Image credit: Four black floppy disks on white surface via Pexels


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