Try these ideas to improve your memory and optimize your brain performance.
Feed your brain early.
- Start your day with a balanced breakfast, for example with a combination of protein, fruits, and healthy fats (such as nuts): it can be oatmeal or yogurt with granola, fresh fruit, walnuts and almonds.
- Have an egg! Eggs are a powerful mix of B vitamins (they help nerve cells to burn glucose), antioxidants (they protect neurons against damage), and omega-3 fatty acids (they keep nerve cells functioning at optimal speed).
- Did you know that some excellent brain food includes sardines, beets, spinach, and lentils? Try to incorporate these and other foods into your daily meals to boost your brain power.
Optimize your workout.
Doing physical exercise, even if it is targeted and short, can do wonders for your brain. Exercise improves your brain’s cognitive performance, increases its problem solving ability, and even boosts long-term memory. The goal is to be consistent, so even a short 30 minute workout will energize you and prepare you for the day. Here are some examples of shorter workouts under 30 minutes:
- a morning yoga routine
- a 15 minute bootcamp session
- a set of hindu pushups
- a set of lunges and squats
- a 20-minute power walk
- a quick run through the neighborhood
Avoid the distraction of checking your email frequently.
This habit isn’t just a small distraction. According to the Harvard Business Review it can lower your IQ by up to 10 points! Unless you’re waiting for an email that will change the course of your life (and these are rare), leave checking your inbox for later in the day, instead of doing it first thing in the morning when your brain is well rested and can perform more complex problem-solving.
Write things down.
The act of writing has a chemical effect on your brain by increasing blood flow to areas of your brain responsible for your memories. How can you create a writing ritual? Start a journal, write letters to friends by hand, create a detailed plan for the week or month, or start your own blog. Writing regularly can boost your memory and help you recall information when you need it.
Use music to boost memory.
There’s a lot of research that shows music is helpful in boosting long-term memory. It has a lot of other benefits for the brain: music increases brain plasticity, improves focus and even motivation, and protects against cognitive decline and memory loss. Read this post for more details on how music can help you become smarter.
Be a teacher.
One of the most powerful memory techniques that people often overlook is recalling newly learned information by teaching it to someone else, for example a friend, schoolmate, or family member. Create an outline of the most important points, then go over the concepts aloud with your friend one by one. Make your “lecture” come alive by providing a few examples; add some humor or a short story to make it even more interesting. Ask questions and encourage them to ask you for explanations. You will find that talking about the material out loud helps you solidify what you’ve learned and recall what’s most important.
Challenge your mind in a creative way.
Do crossword puzzles, put together a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle, learn chess, play cards, or read books. These activities keep your brain active and challenged, help delay memory loss, and promote learning new things every day.
Use the memory palace technique.
What is a memory palace? Also known as ‘the method of loci‘, a technique that dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, this mnemonic device represents a place or series of places you can create in your mind to store information that you need to remember. Here are some resources that might help:
- Learn how to build a memory palace
- Read a book
- Joshua Foer: Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything
- Harry Lorayne: The Memory Book: The Classic Guide to Improving Your Memory at Work, at School, and at Play
- Watch a video
- TEDTalk with Joshua Foer: Feats of memory anyone can do (length: 20 minutes)
- Explore a Quora question
Train your mind with meditation.
Meditating can declutter your brain of thoughts that distract you from the brilliant work you could be doing. This small practice doesn’t require a lot of time, is simple to follow, and has many benefits, including better focus throughout the day, more concentration, improved ability to cope with the day’s events, and a greater sense of calm. Try the Headspace app to start with just 10 minutes; it’s fun and easy to use.
Take a power nap to renew your mental energy.
Naps can maximize productivity by helping you absorb the new information you’ve covered in your study sessions. They are also good for your heart health, they lower blood pressure, reduce stress and anxiety, even improve memory and learning. Here’s how to nap the right way:
- Set aside 20-30 minutes in the afternoon to nap. Although you can make your nap longer, this time range is considered optimal for most people.
- Find a comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed: your bed, a comfortable couch, or a big armchair with soft pillows. Get a blanket and an eye mask to block out daylight. Can’t find an eye mask? Just place a folded black T-shirt over your eyes.
- Block away environmental noise with noise-cancelling headphones, and listen to music that can help you relax (it can be classical music, a playlist ofchillout tunes, or simply sounds of nature). Don’t want to listen to music? Get a good pair of soft silicone ear plugs like these and relax in silence.
- Pair it with a small cup of coffee. Caffeine takes about 30 minutes to kick in, so you can try having a cup of your favorite brew right before taking your nap. Don’t drink coffee? Try green tea instead, as it also contains caffeine. When you wake up, you’ll feel more alert and ready to tackle your work.
- Wake up the right way. Stretch your body, then get up, splash some cold water on your face, get some fresh air for a few minutes, have a tall glass of water, and listen to some energizing and upbeat music before you continue your work.