Memory is one of those things we’re all constantly trying to improve on. As we age, it’s also one of those things that is constantly getting a little worse.
If you’re trying to learn something, one of the best ways to help you remember it is to actually teach that something to someone else.
This week The New York Times ran a story on how to improve your memory. One of its suggestions? Tell someone what you’re trying to remember. In a recent study, participants were asked to deliver a lesson either with or without notes in front of them. A week later, they came back to the testing facility and were given a surprise test on what they had taught their lesson on. The people who were forced to deliver that original lesson in their own words rather than those who taught the same lesson using note.
The big takeaway: talking about something helps you remember it. Not only does putting something into your own words help you understand a topic, but the process of putting something into your own words to explain it to someone else will also help you retrieve that information later on.
Telling someone doesn’t mean you have to hold an all-out class on the topic. Instead, consider explaining that thing to a friend at the bar, or your partner over dinner. The goal is just to explain something in your own words in a way so someone else can understand it.
Another good tip form the NYT article? After you finish studying sit in darkness for a few minutes and let your brain relax. Studies show that memory retention is 10-30 per cent better when you let your brain rest and process what you’ve learned right after you learn it.