Memory Skills

Memory skills aid real memory improvement

Once you start on the road to memory improvement, you’ll want to put your new skills to good use. You begin by learning some memory techniques, but the real payoff comes when you start to apply them to real-world situations. It’s all very well learning how to memorise lists, but until you actually do memorise some lists it’s all just so much theory!

If you’re eager to put your skills to use, take a look at the options listed on this page.

Improve your spelling

School sign mis-spelt - need to improve memory skills

Ah you shoore you’re spelings okay??

There may be ‘problem areas’ where you would like to apply your memory techniques. For example, if you have trouble with your spelling, you can improve it by approaching it in a different way – check out this page of spelling tips.

A lot of people who have difficulty with spelling find that if they start to visualise the words, and animate them, and put a few other little tricks and tweaks into action they can see definite improvements in spelling.

Maybe you should check out these spelling tips for a few ideas.

It might help to learn the alphabet backwards – no, really! Oh, okay, it won’t really help improve your spelling, but it’s a memory challenge, and, just like with anything else that pushes your boundaries a bit further, it will probably improve your memory. The more you use it, the more you improve it.

Keep a journal

Another way to improve your spelling is to do more of it – that’s right, write more often and you’ll almost inevitably get better at what you do. And the simplest route to take, in that regard, is to start to keep a journal.

There are countless online applications, many of them free, to help you record your thoughts and plans. Panzu is an example, and it boasts that it’s “100% private” and has “military grade security”. RedNoteBook is another free diary software, and it includes a calendar and the ability to add annotations to any entry, which can be categorised any way you like. Many people find it’s easy and convenient to use Microsoft Word, which many already have on their system anyway, while The Journal, by DavidRM Software is thought by many to be the best overall option (it is available as a 45-day free trial and costs about $45 to register). 

The very action of organising your thoughts to write your daily journal will serve to improve your memory. And the more organised you become, the more effective you’re likely to be at what you do. So, if you’re studying memory improvement, you’ll automatically be more effective at it. Being disorganised is the surest way to get nowhere, fast!

Mind mapping can improve your memory skills

Mind maps can improve your memory skills

Mind maps can help you organise your thoughts in a clear and easily understood way

On the subject of being better organised, why not take a look into mind mapping. The brainchild of Tony Buzan, mind mapping is a revolutionary way to take notes. If you’ve ever spent time taking notes only to find they’re practically useless to you, you’ll love mind mapping!

It mimics the way the brain works; instead of slavishly sticking to the old ‘one line underneath another’ way of making notes, it introduces the groundbreaking idea of using images, colours, keywords, as well as arrows and other symbols.

Remember names

He remembers her name! Among the most vital memory skills

Sometimes you just really DO need to remember a name!

Of course, one of the most important memory skills lies in being able to remember names. Nothing is more annoying that to find yourself in the company of someone you know quite well, and realise you haven’t a clue what their name is.

I have a particular problem when it comes to remember names, and believe me, I’ve tried to fix it. Here’s a few of the methods and tips I’ve come across in my search for a reliable way to remember names.

It’s useful to learn to use imagery in remembering first and last names, but any method that works for you is the right one.

Morse code – a great example of memory skills

Morse code - great example of memory skills in use

Morse code chart

If you’ve ever been interested in learning Morse code, this might be the right time to give it a go.

Instead of going the usual route of slogging away, trying to get to grips with remembering the ‘codes’ for each letter, why not check out these useful tips. As with so many things, there are memory techniques that will help you learn Morse code as well.

What’s the point in learning Morse code now, with all the newer forms of communication that we’ve got? I can understand that view, but I’m talking about learning it purely from a memory improvement standpoint.

And when you’ve mastered it, you won’t be saying it’s pointless, you’ll be grinning to yourself when the old movies come on and you can tell what the radio operator is signalling to base!

Memory skills can help you make a speech confidently

Nervous giving speech - needs better memory skills

Most of the fear just evaporates, as long as you’re well prepared

Effective communication is essential if you want to get ahead and make your mark (as the success gurus would have it). It’s true though – if you can’t communicate your ideas to someone effectively, it’s going to be very difficult to get them on your side. One aspect of effective communication is undoubtedly memorising a speech or presentation properly.

If you learn the way to organise your thoughts so that you can give a speech or a presentation with confidence and in a relaxed manner, people will automatically take you more seriously.

Memorise playing cards

Ever wished you could remember a whole stack of playing cards, maybe even the whole deck, so you could amaze people with your skill? It is a very impressive skill, but it’s not by any means impossible. It requires you to learn a method whereby each and every card become more individual and memorable. Once you’ve got that sorted out, it’s all down to practice.

Check out How to memorise playing cards for the full details.

Learning The Knowledge

Ever wondered how London cabbies learn so much about London that they can take you anywhere, starting from anywhere else, along the quickest route? Well, if you’re thinking of having a go yourself, let me first say this … it ain’t easy! Most of the people who start out intending to become London cabbies quit eventually, usually after a year or two. It’s just too arduous.

London cabbie learned The Knowledge!The ones who carry on and make it, well, it takes most of them about five years to learn the layout of the city in detail. And when I say in detail, I mean they learn over 300 sample runs, street by street … and they learn the location of every single street, lane, road, mews, close and everything else in the capital (and there’s … wait for it … about 25,000 of them!) … plus, about another 20,000 landmarks and places of interest (churches, theatres, cinemas, embassies, schools, monuments, government buildings, hospitals, etc, etc).

As you can imagine, it’s a truly monumental memory task. Even the ones who are successful generally take about 12 attempts before they crack it. But when they do, they know London inside out; they can take you from any address in the city to any other address in the city, and work it all out in their heads while you’re still getting comfortable in the back of the cab!

If you want to read more about what a prospective cabbie has to go through, read about the quest to learn The Knowledge. It’s fascinating. And it helps you realise just how motivated you need to be to memorise huge amounts of data.

Memorise verbatim text

There may be times when you need to memorise text word-for-word, perhaps for an exam. This can present a particular problem, since even if you understand the text and can explain it to someone (if it’s, for example, some sort of technical information), it can still be difficult to remember it precisely, word for word. Another situation might be if you have to learn lines for a play or a film.

I had trouble with this, but I came across a simple method, which is proving very effective when I’ve been using it to memorise a poem. You can read the details on this page. It might be just what you need to help you get through that exam that’s been looming, or to move on to a higher qualification for your career.



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