How do you feel when you have a conversation with somebody that can recite something you told them a year or more ago? Do you say to yourself, “How does this person even remember the details of what we talked about so long ago?” Do you like and respect the person more because they actually paid attention to what you said?
The other day Mario asked if we can talk about how to retain more information, so we grabbed a paper and pen and came up with 12 different things that I’ll talk about here in this video about how you can improve your memory.
12 Tips to Retain More Information
I'm not talking about the gifted people who have photographic or eidetic memories. I'm not talking about people like Nikola Tesla who had an incredible memory, or Teddy Roosevelt that could read the paper and recite the entire thing back to you. That's a gift that only certain people have. I'm talking about basic things that you can do to help you retain more information. Doing so will help you out in many aspects of your life such as business, relationships, and more.
Think about the information that you yourself remember. Then ask the question, "Why do I remember that?"
You remember things typically for two reasons. For instance, some people can easily remember sports stats. Some people can easily remember a quote from a president. Some people can easily remember mathematical formulas. Others remember bad times that happened in great detail. Some people can remember certain laws or speeding limits.
Our brain typically remembers and retains information on topics that interest us or information that affects us.
For instance, after paying $63,000 in taxes in a year, you'll remember your tax rate since that affects you. Or you may remember certain secrets to a video game because it interests you.
So what does that have to do with your ability to retain more information? It's because if you want to retain information, you need to either be truly interested in it, or have it be something that affects you. This is true whether it's a conversation you're having, a video you're watching, or in a lecture in a classroom. If you're not interested or don't feel that it affects you, you generally won't remember it for long.
Repetition is one reason we remember songs. I have certain songs that I like and listen to over and over again, and all of a sudden, I know the lyrics. The same way you and I can remember song lyrics is the same way we can remember words in a book, a formula, quote or what a person said. If you repeat something over and over again, you'll remember it. For instance, if you want to remember someone's name, you could say: "His name is John. His name is John. His name is John." Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat. And then you link, link, link. So repeat, link, repeat, link, repeat, link. (See point #6 below for more information on how to combine repetition with linking.)
After you've read or heard something, debate it with a group of two or three friends or family members. And I'm talking about debating with people that are not combative. They aren't people that just want to win everything. Debate because you're trying to learn.
Here's an example of a debate. Let's say that you learned that unemployment rates in Panama are 2.3%. You could ask a few people, "Hey, why do you think Panama's unemployment rate is 2.3%?" Each person gives their opinion and there is some discussion. Then maybe we do a little bit of research on the topic. The 2.3% figure stays in your mind because you debated it.
Debating is an effective way to retain more information because when you debate, you have to use a lot of mental energy to justify why you believe what you do.
#4: Share It
Share what you learned with other people. Listen in here for how to use the TEA theory to retain more information.
#5: Teach On It
Don't just share what you learned, teach it. There is a difference between teaching and sharing. When you share, you may say things such as, "Did you know that Michael Jordan shot 55% from the field?" Or "Did you know that in a single season Michael Jordan averaged 3.8 steals a game?" Or "Did you know that in a single season Michael Jordan averaged 8.8 rebounds a game?" To all of these things, the person you shared them with might say something like, "I didn't know that."
When you teach, you do it in a way that helps the person implement the information. For instance, you may give instructions on how to position the hands, shoulder, and so on when swinging a golf club. Sharing helps you retain more information, but teaching helps you retain even more information.
Whenever you learn something new, link it to a story. For example, after reading that Teddy Roosevelt's first wife died, I would link it the fact that the first girlfriend I ever said "I love you" to died in a car accident. When I link it to something that has emotion, that hurts, I remember it.
Be sure to link the information to a story that happened to you rather than to a story that's not connected to you, doesn't interest you, or doesn't affect you. If you link it to an experience that impacts you, you'll remember it.
#7: Look Things Up
When reading a book, if you come across a term you don't know, instead of just passing over it, stop and look it up. For instance, if when reading a book on baseball you come across the acronym ALCS, and don't know what it is. Rather than skipping it and every time you see the term in the book, you still don't know what it is, stop! Find out what ALCS is. When you find out that it means American League Championship Series, it will stick in your memory because you looked it up. If you don't look it up, it won't stay in your mind.
A lot of times people learn something in a book or video, and they don't implement it, and then wonder why they don't retain it. To retain more information, you need to implement it, immediately. The sooner you implement it, the more it sticks.
For instance, let's say you learned how to swing a golf club. Go implement it, and do it over and over again so that it becomes a part of you. Or let's say that you learned a seven-step approach to giving constructive criticism. Write it down and go implement it with three different people.
Listen in here for how energy and stamina impacts your ability to retain more information.
If you're studying a subject and want to retain more information on the subject, focus on that subject. If you study several subjects at the same time, your brain gets confused. So instead of studying several things at a time, focus on a subject and study that subject.
Let me explain to you what I mean by this. A lot of times people who don't know how to work out, think that if they work out eight hours in a day, they'll build more muscles. But they won't. A two-hour workout is better because your muscles really grow when you rest. You tear your muscles and then it grows. And you can't hit every single body part together on the same day. You focus on one muscle at a time.
In the same way, you want to retain information one subject at a time. Take a subject and obsess yourself over it and you'll retain the information.
If your brain exudes too much energy because you're using it on way too many subjects, it won't retain the information, because it's cluttered. So to retain more information, focus your energy into one subject.
#11: Focused Attention
I can tell you a lot of things about Mario. I can tell you that he's a very good soccer player. I can tell you about how he raises his two daughters, how he speaks to them, what he expects from them, and the type of homework he wants them to do. I can tell you about Mario's relationship with his family, and stories about his brother. When he speaks, I'm interested and I focus my attention on him because I want to know what he's saying.
A lot of times people don't focus attention on somebody when they're speaking and then they wonder why they don't retain the information about what the person said. All of us are guilty of this.
For example, when the teacher's speaking, you're distracted, so you don't retain the information. And today, we have the biggest distraction of all, smartphones. You keep wanting to check social media, and when you do, you just lost the point that someone was making. Right now, while reading this article or watching the video, some of you got distracted by something else. To retain more information, make sure you have focused attention.
#12: Play the Memory Game
This last point is my favorite one. Listen in here to learn a game that I just played with Mario and Paul. If you play this game as well, it will help you retain more information.
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