Did you know that not being able to remember numbers may be causing more lost revenue than you can imagine?
Well, that’s not the only reason why an entrepreneur should have exceptional memory. And, in fact, there are tens of other benefits a good memory can help you grow your small business startup to the next level.
In a nutshell, a lot of entrepreneurial success comes from knowing your “what”, “how”, “when”, “why”, and “where”. And to know all these, a good memory is mandatory.
What’s your earliest memory? Do you remember exactly how old you are, what you were doing or who you were with? Why are early childhood memories crystal clear for some people, yet others can’t remember what they had for lunch yesterday?
And are you, like many, destined to a lifetime of embarrassment and lost opportunities because you forget who you’re introduced to at every networking event you ever go to?
Never fear! The brain — even though it’s not a muscle — can be used like one, and with memory tips and memory tricks, you can improve your recall and retention for faster learning. You just need to understand how memory works, make sure you exercise your brain every day, and use the right memorizing techniques.
So, how does memory work?
It’s an eternal mystery of the universe — and the human body — as to how memory works. What has been discovered as recently as 2016 is that a certain protein in the brain is responsible for memory, both retention and loss. We also know that memory is a process that involves the encoding, storage and recall of information, and believe it or not, sleep is an important part of the process of memorization, with lack of sleep affecting memory.
Encoding uses the senses and sensory information and links it to information, events, people, or places. Music is a particularly powerful way to remember things, as is smell. You may hear a certain song and recall exactly what you were doing when you heard the music.
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Ditto smell. The warm scent of pine may transport you immediately back to your high school woodwork class — and your first crush. Memory can be fuzzy around details, which is why you may remember how someone made you feel but can’t remember exactly what they said (a quote ascribed to Maya Angelou).
And when you remember your way back to your accommodation in an unfamiliar city using landmarks and a map — called semantic encoding — you are more likely to have deeper encoding.
During our waking hours, we are bombarded with thousands upon thousands of words, messages, facts, and images, all stored in different regions of the brain and connected by neurons. These neurons use signals to “talk” to each other and create different pathways in the brain, with some connections deeper and richer than others.
Scientists believe that this “storage” is the basis of memory, which can be either long- or short-term and can degrade over time as we age. This explains why we can cram for an exam, only to forget the content the next day, but we still remember the name of our first-grade teacher.
Understanding how memories are activated is crucial to using effective memorization techniques. The brain calls on the neurons to retrieve a memory. The stronger the pathway, and the more frequently a particular memory is accessed or a thing practised, the easier the memory is to recall. Repetition and constant use are important ways to remember things.
If you’re learning a language, for example, vocabulary lists and conversational practice help you retain the unfamiliar. Recall of a memory is never “pure” though: it gets mixed up with other thoughts, feelings and situations, which is why memory is often unreliable.
What we can do is use what we know from science to boost our memory and learn how to remember things better and more efficiently. You probably won’t end up with a photographic memory, but you’ll at least be able to remember potential clients’ or your kids’ names.
1- Sleep on It
Getting enough sleep is a sure-fire way to boost your memory retention and recall. But not just any old sleep. You might think you’re ok with a couple of glasses of red wine as a nightcap and then sleep for five or six hours, but a hot memory tip is that this isn’t quality and your brain function will suffer.
A bedtime routine is crucial to good sleep: go to bed at the same time, minimise caffeine before bed — it’s a stimulant — and do the same thing every night, even if it’s watching Netflix for an hour or so to help you nod off.
2- Get Moving
One of the best boost-your-memory techniques is exercise. That’s right. An hour or so of exercise daily — even if it’s a stroll after dinner — is one of the best things you can do for your brain. Exercise boosts blood flow to the brain — and thereby oxygen — and we know that oxygen to the brain equates to life.
Exercise, particularly if you do it without distractions like music, can help with flow and relaxation, kind of like meditation. And studies also suggest that exercise protects the brain from dementia.
Having a small gym at workplace can be a great way to get your entire team in action. The more active lifestyle you and your team have, the better your business will perform!
3- Get in the Zone
A racing brain where the amygdala is in overdrive — often due to stress and anxiety — does nothing to boost your memory. Meditation, where the ultimate aim is to stay awake and alert while relaxing, has been proven to improve memory.
Meditation changes the brain’s chemistry and rewires the neural pathways — and works quickly so the benefits are profound. If you’re keen to meditate but you don’t know how to go about it, search YouTube for a guided meditation.
4- You are What You Eat
The brain uses two types of fuel: glucose and fat. In fact, the brain is the fattiest organ in the body – it is nearly 60% fat. And as with any kind of fuel — junk in, junk out. It, therefore, makes sense to eat a diet that is rich in fruit, vegetables and omega 3 from flax seeds and fatty fish like salmon.
Avoid processed foods as much as possible — ‘sometimes’ food, remember? — and eliminate alcohol, which studies prove time and again destroys brain cells and won’t help with your quest on how to remember things more efficiently.
5- Skip Breakfast
Just as what you eat is important to improving your memory, so is when you eat. Studies have shown that fasting — delaying the time that you eat your first meal each day — increases focus and makes your brain function razor sharp.
How does fasting work as a memorization technique? We’re glad you asked. Fasting increases protein growth, which studies have shown fast-tracks the growth of neurons — crucial to memory retention and recall. So despite what we’ve been told, breakfast is not the most important meal of the day.
6- Learn Something New
Neural networks are like highways in the brain, but for better memory, you need to build off-road pathways. And the best way to do this is to learn something new or do something that helps rewire the brain and make it think. One of the most efficient memory techniques to exercise your brain and improve recall is to learn a language.
And it’s never too late to start. It doesn’t matter whether you take a class or use a language app, the important thing is that the patterns of encoding, storage and recall are all important lessons in how to memorize.
Micro learning can be a great way to learn new skills and improve your memory. Moreover the interactive training can also heavily benefit the individuals in the organization as well as the over all business!
7- Travel Near and Far
Familiarity breeds contempt, and it is also bad for your memory. When things are familiar, your brain is on autopilot and just phones it in. Travel, particularly solo travel, gets you out of your comfort zone and forces you into problem-solving mode.
You are forced to use memorization techniques, from learning simple words and phrases in the language of your destination to recalling the way back to your hotel to remembering which side of the road the traffic drives on so you don’t have an unfortunate accident when crossing the street. Taking in the sights, scents, sounds, and tastes of a new culture and country does wonders for your brain.
How to Memorize
If you’re doing all these things and you still need help with memorization techniques, there are a number of tried and tested memory tips that will boost your memory and improve your recall:
- Chunk a string of numbers into groups of three or four, and you’ll remember them more easily.
- If you meet someone new, repeat their name immediately and associate their name with something familiar.
- Practise makes perfect, so repeat, repeat, repeat — especially if you are learning a new language or skill.
- Use mnemonics like ROYGBIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet) to aid faster recall.
- There’s no shame in writing things down if you know you have trouble remembering things. There are many apps for that. And to level up your memory, write your notes by hand.
- Use technology, Traqq for instance, which is a desktop application that is one of the easiest and simplest ways to track your time and productivity. It is suitable for freelancers, small groups and large multinational teams. The activation of your account is free and includes access to the full suite of tools and features.
The Bottom Line
Having a good memory is essential for everyone, but it is crucial for entrepreneurs. You may be missing an opportunity to build a rapport with people because you don’t remember their names.
With a good memory you can excel as an entrepreneur, because you can give better and more engaging presentations. Improving memory means activating more areas of your brain which will ultimately help you take better decisions to scale your business growth.
I am sure, the above details will help you improve your memory!