Your memory is divided into two main categories – long term and short term (also known as working memory). Your short-term memory allows you to remember things like a person’s name or phone number. If you’re a facts and figures kind of person, your working memory holds three to nine pieces of information (words, digits, etc.) for roughly up to twenty seconds. If you don’t transfer that information over to your long- term memory (or write it down), you’re going to forget it.
Recent research revealed that exercising your working memory actually increases fluid intelligence. This is fantastic news because scientists previously thought that intelligence was determined at birth, and there was nothing you could do about it. A study led by Dr. Susanne M. Jaeggi gave short term memory training to a group of volunteers and then tested them. Training for as little as eight days led to considerable gains, with those training over a longer period making the most improvement.
A simple way to exercise your working memory is to play the classic game aptly named “Memory.” Take twelve pairs of cards and mix them up. Lay them out face down – six cards across and four cards down. Turn over one card at a time and try to match the pairs in as little time as possible.
Improving your long-term memory is a breeze by using mnemonics, which are simple memory aids that help you store information for long periods of time. A mnemonic device, such as a poem or a song, can help you retain complex information that normally would be difficult for you to remember.
Many people develop their own mnemonic devices by learning a song to help them retain information. Most of us, for example, learned to spell Mississippi by using a little song. Other people make up a story or a poem to increase retention.
The Number Rhyme System is a great place to start. This mnemonic device replaces a number with a word. You then create a story using the words, and this story enables you to remember the numbers.
Let’s examine how this works. Take a look at the chart below:
Read through the numbers, and visualize the rhymes that are presented. Now, say you want to remember your new PIN number, which is 6592. Replace each number with its rhyme, and create a story that links the numbers together.
For example: 6592 becomes sticks, hive, wine, and shoe. Picture yourself throwing sticks at a bee hive. The hive breaks open like a pinata, and instead of honey pouring out, wine comes gushing down. You run over and hold your shoe out to catch as much as you can.
By forming a story, your memory can better store and retrieve your pin number whenever you need it.
Try this with your own pin numbers and let me know how it goes.