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Memory Recall Techniques to Sharpen Your Focus at Work

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1. Repeat Information to Yourself. Suppose that most mornings, you can’t remember if you took your vitamin pill. The next time you take it, repeat aloud: “I’m taking my B-complex pill.” What if as you’re driving you have a brilliant idea for solving a work issue, but can’t pull over to write it down. Repeat the idea aloud to yourself a number of times to cement it in memory.

2. Use Association. When you meet someone for the first time, try to associate their name with a piece (or pieces) of related information. For instance, if when introduced to a Ms. Chelsea Holmes, you might picture Joni Mitchell singing “Chelsea Morning” while standing next to Sherlock Holmes. The next time you see Ms. Holmes, you’ll bring up this mental image and bam—you’ll have no trouble remembering her name. Association can also work for numbers and facts.

3. Chunk. We’re able to hold just seven pieces of information in our minds at once. That’s why everyone “chunks” 10-digit phone numbers. For example, 573-957-6938 is so much easier to remember than “5739576938.”You can divvy up any large amount of information into chunks (what to bring to the marketing meeting/what tasks must get done on Tuesday), then memorize those chunks as single sections. Chunking can also help you remember the spelling of words, for example, Mis-sis-sippi.

4. Use Acronyms and Acrostics. An acronym is a word formed as an abbreviation from the initial letters of a phrase or word. The popular acronym HOMES helps people remember the Great Lakes: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior. An acrostic is a sentence in which the first letter of each word stands for what you want to remember. For example, "Every Good Boy Does Fine," reminds us of the notes on the musical staff: E, G, B, D, F. Make up acronyms and acrostics of your own—they’re great for creating computer passwords.

5. Get Organized. Always place often-used items (glasses, car keys, wallet, cell phone) in the same spot in your home so they’re easy to locate. Write down all phone numbers, addresses, appointments, events and significant times (when to take medications, etc.) online and/or in a hard-copy appointment calendar.

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