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Five Motivational Tips to Improve Memory

16/12/2015 15:31 GMT | Updated 16/12/2016 10:12 GMT

Allow me to share some first hand experiences on how to develop your motivation to improve memory. There is no magic formula even if I am a Hypnotherapist in Harley St.

I have recently joined a theatre group, The Dulwich Players, keen to further my schooldays experiences of putting on a play. I found myself instantly obsessing over the fear of learning lines and spent the first month or so happily worrying the idea into existence. However, after getting a grip on myself I thought it was wise to at least try to learn, or at least learn 'how to learn' instead of spending my time talking myself down. Which leads me to share my first memory tip.

1. Make sure you spend more time applying yourself to the task of improving your memory than telling yourself you cannot do it. Memory relies on repetition, so repeat the learning bit not the calamitous bit. Build the idea that you can (improve your memory), it will be far more productive than repeating the idea that you cannot.

My next task was therefore to practise using my memory. One of the simplest ways was to listen to the news on the radio, however you could use any source written or spoken which provides a short but interesting collection of facts. While reading or listening you need to focus on the deliberate task of absorbing the information, picking out certain facts that present themselves. The important point here is that you are deliberately focussing your mind on learning, not just skimming or idly listening. This is memory tip number two.

2 Committing stuff to memory is improved by making it important, it is a deliberate act, so focus your mind on that task. Do it with energy and interest and observation. Think- " I am doing this for a reason, I am focussing on these facts so that I may remember them". Switch your attention on, do not expect memory just to happen without your involvement.

Having spent short bursts of time ( 5 to 10 minutes) bringing your attention to something, gently test yourself by trying to recall a certain number of those facts. You may be surprised to find that due to the effort made when listening or reading that some of the stuff has actually gone in. This is a far better state of affairs than the old habit of telling yourself how useless your memory is. You may find one medium ( audio or written) is easier than another and so you will need to find your own personal preference. When committing stuff to memory your emotions or visual imagination may be activated, others may remember sounds, because each person has their own style of responding to experience. Find your own way with trial and error, building your belief that you can remember, tip number 3.

3 Gently replace the old belief of "I can't" with the new belief "I can" by proving to yourself that your memory is improving with practice and effort. The new belief of "I can" is self-fulfilling. Your attention and focus will increase being less clouded by all those old doubts and negative thoughts. You will be spending more time actually doing the thing that is needed, absorbing the information!

The next challenge if you want to memorise something more specific will be the nagging voice that says, this should be easier or quicker. Ignore this voice! Put in the hours, repeat till you are blue in the face. Record the words on your phone or copy the text so that it is always with you for those little opportunities to go through it again. The seeming endless repetition will seem odd to you and you will probably put yourself at the bottom of the class for being so slow and stupid. The mental discipline here is tip number 4.

4 Accepting that excessive repetition is a natural and normal part of memorising is vital. Once that information has been printed into your brain it will be remain there and the seemingly endless repeating is the way to do it. Resist the idea that others find it easy or that there is a magic way of doing it. You may need to get creative in finding your own style but trust that the work you are putting in is the correct and normal way of developing memory.

The last tip is equally important in maintaining your motivation to improve memory. It requires that after an hour or two of repetitions, you let go of trying and let a good night's sleep do the rest. Do not do too much on one day because sleep allows information to be embedded in a way that you cant make happen by conscious effort alone. This is tip number 5

5 Your memory will be improved by a good night's sleep. Don't believe me? Read this article. Strange as it may sound, the work you do with your memory will be improved by the following night's sleep. The brain at night commits the previous days experience into longer term memory if it considers the information to be important. This is why Tip 2 is so important. that your memory efforts have been deliberately flagged up during the day. They have been put in the file labelled 'important'. I have personally tested this theory and found to my surprise that indeed recall improves after sleep , that information is effortlessly available to my memory in a way it wasn't the day before.