Key memory principles

So, what does all this mean for you in your life at work and at home? When it comes to how your memory works, there are a number of simple principles to understand.

1 You tend to remember the first and the last items. This is sometimes called the primacy and recency effect.

2 If you can find the patterns and connections between items, this will help you to remember them.

3 You tend to remember things that are surprising or odd, that do not conform to patterns.

4 Your ability to recall things is improved if you review what you have learned over a period of time.

Each of these principles has a direct impact on your life. In the workplace, for example, the following apply:

Principle

Activity

Implications

You tend to remember the

Meetings

Break meetings up into a

first and the last

number of mini-meetings to create more beginnings and endings. Make sure the items with which you start and end a meeting are the ones you want people to remember. Don't necessarily leave the item that will be most controversial until last, as it may leave people with unnecessary negative feelings.Take regular short "stretch" breaks.

Communications

In one-to-one discussions, make sure that the first and last things you say are strongly positive.

Making presentations

Concentrate on starting and ending strongly!

Learning

Take regular breaks, splitting your learning up into chunks.

Principle

Activity

Implications

If you can find the patterns and connections between items, it helps you to remember them

Meetings Learning

Help people to make connections between apparently unconnected items where this would be helpful, for example, if you are discussing something routinely on business agendas such as cost cutting, by making a connection using humor, a strong image, or an acronym. As above. See also the specific techniques on page 100.

You tend to remember things that are surprising or odd, that do not conform to patterns

Internal communications

Making presentations Learning

Advertisers have long known that we remember the incongruous, but those responsible for communicating with staff inside organizations have been slower to realize this. Use surprising images to reinforce routine but important messages, for example, about health and safety. Seek out examples from outside your field of work or specialist interest.Your audience may remember the surprising patterns they create. Actively seek to make connections between things you have learned. For example, before the end of a training course, make up a simple rhyme with all the key learning points you want to recall.

Your ability to recall things is improved if you review what you have learned over a period of time

Meetings

Internal communications Learning

As you go through meetings, repeatedly make interim summaries of what you have agreed and where you are going.Always start a meeting by recapping what you agreed last time. Refer to and build on previous campaigns. Use the intranet to send repeat and reminder messages to staff. Review what you have learned regularly. See also the specific techniques on pages 130-31.

The individual who has done more than anyone to promote an understanding of how your memory works is British expert Tony Buzan. In books like the bestselling Use Your Head, Buzan provides many practical activities to help you develop your memory. He has also invented a way of visualizing thoughts, the mind map™.

To make a mind map, turn a piece of paper through 90 degrees so that its shortest side is vertical. Put the title of your map or a picture in the center and draw an oblong around it. Pick out the main topics or headings of whatever you are mapping. Draw lines out from your central oblong toward the edge of the page and label the line as you do it. Then draw smaller lines, like branches of the trunk of a tree, from each of your main lines. You can also create twigs off the branches if you think of something else that is part of a branch. Once the basic shape of the map is taking place, you can add connecting lines to link different branches. You can also annotate the map with colors, question marks, underlining—anything that helps you make connections.

You will have noticed that each of the three parts of this book starts with a mind map. Such maps are a very helpful way of showing visually what you are about to read. I also find that they are useful as a method of capturing my thoughts when I am writing an article or preparing a speech.

How To Accomplish More In A Fraction Of The Time

How To Accomplish More In A Fraction Of The Time

The pace and intensity of our lives, both at work and at home, leave several of us feeling like a person riding a frantically galloping horse. Our day-to-day incessant busyness too much to do and not enough time; the pressure to produce and check off items on our to-do list by each day’s end seems to decide the direction and quality of our existence for us.

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