A few years back I was in a small village of Uganda, a country in eastern Africa.
There I met a local with an uncanny memory.
He knew several tribal languages and a few western ones too. Not only that, he remembered the most subtle points of events and conversations, which he could recount in exquisite detail.
What impressed me most was he didn’t use memory techniques nor have much schooling.
One day I asked him, ‘hey man, what’s with you, how do you have such an uncanny memory.’
His response: ‘You westerns have all this t.v., news, facebook, internet, and endless wave of information that clutter your mind. In my village, I don’t have any of that. So the things I learn, I keep.’
In this day and age, we are bombarded with way too much. Our mind is constantly pushing out the old to work with the new.
Since our mind is receiving so much new, what it pushes out may only be a few hours old.
As a result, we are unable to retain information that comes to us much beyond a few hours let alone a few days.
The thing is, majority of the information we do come across is either not useful or useful only for the moment.
Since much of it is not useful, there is no sense in trying to commit every piece of information that comes your way.
Your memory is powerful. It can remember most information you want.
However just because it can remember anything, doesn’t mean you should have it remember anything.
There is no sense in trying to memorize a phone number if you’re going to use it only once.
If you’re grocery list changes week to week, it doesn’t serve you to memorize each and every list.
Or your booking confirmation for next month, is it going to be that important two years from now?
Trying to remember such trivial information is not just a waste of time, but not an efficient use of your memory.
When you crowd you’re mind with such details, you leave less room for the things that matter…
…like your daughter’s birthday, client’s cell-phone number, a new language, or the important events in your life.
I’m not saying that trivial details aren’t important.
Just not for the long term.
So there is no sense in putting time and effort to force those details into your long-term memory bank.
So what should you do with such trivial details that are important, but not for the long term?
Note them down!
The things that are worth remembering, commit to memory. The rest, note down.
This frees your mind to remember what matters.
Here are examples of the types of information I note and how:
• Useful information I come across on my phone, I take a screenshot.
• If I stumble upon a valuable website, I bookmark or download it.
• When traveling internationally, I text myself the number of each new sim card I buy.
• When a great idea pops up in my head, I email it to myself.
• When I have to remember a lot of written detail, I take a picture.
• And with anything else, I jot in my notebook in the form of a to-do list.
When it is time to recall any of this, I pull out the screen shot, bookmark, text, email, picture, or notebook.
This has made all the difference in my life.
I no longer waste time and energy scrambling to remember websites, confirmations numbers, etc as I have them noted.
So my memory is free to remember the things that matter like what I did with friends, places I’ve visited, and essential points of a lecture or meeting.
If you really want to enhance your memory, stop trying to remember every bit of fact that comes your way. Not only is it impossible, but it’s time consuming and inefficient.
Focus on the things that are relevant or useful for the long term. For these types of information, you can use a variety of memory tips and techniques to help you remember and recall them.