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3 Memory Tricks to Become Smarter and More Productive


Improving our memory skills increases productivity at work and, in general, makes our lives a little easier. From remembering where we stashed our keys to remembering the boss’s detailed instructions, the following tips and tricks will make us work smarter and be more productive. How many of these are you familiar with?

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(Photo Credit: The Wandering Angel/Flicker)

1. Leverage Visual Memory

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In John Travolta Reminds Us Why It’s Important to Remember People’s Names, PayScale’s Aubrey Bach reminds us of some of the mental tricks we can use to remember little details. One way is to focus on flair, for example, if Pamela is wearing a purple scarf, you may remember her name because both “Pamela” and “purple” start with the letter “p.”

In Psychology Today, Dr. Alex Lickerman agrees with and embellishes on this point. The key is to utilize your visual memory to remember details such as names, dates, and other important facts. Memory is predominately visual. If you have trouble remembering dates or deadlines, write them down with a picture. For example, if a report is due on a date in the beginning of spring, write down the date, draw a flower, and look at it for a moment. This visual will help you remember when the report is due.

2. Follow Through

Have you ever gotten a late notice that a bill wasn’t paid, but you clearly “remember” paying it? Psychology Today calls this a commission error. Commission errors occur when we think we did something we were supposed to do — but we didn’t.

This common type of memory error inhibits productivity and really holds us back at work. The best way to avoid falling prey to it is simply to double-check to make sure you did everything you were supposed to do before going home for the evening. It may seem like busy work, but it is well worth it if you have a lot to do. Being busy makes us more susceptible to commission errors.

3. Avoid Distraction

Another way to maintain productivity and increase memory skills is to avoid both distraction and mindless errors; the two go together. We get distracted, go into “automatic pilot,” and the next thing you know we made a mistake. Most likely, we won’t remember making the mistake. This one is really about avoiding distraction to increase productivity, but it is also tied into memory. Focusing on the task at hand, productivity, and remembering all go together.

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