3 steps for better memory Pt 1

Ever had a word or name that was on the tip of your tongue, but you couldn’t recall what it was? Ever walked into a room and then wondered why you came here?

Chances are, everybody reading this post has ever had their memory fail them or not working so well. There are seven steps that, when taken, can help us to remember anything better.

1. Reach and teach

Be in the present. IF you are learning something that does not mean anything to you, chances are, you will not only forget, but you will zone out in class as well. If you want to remember a name, find out more about that person and associate this person with their interests, hobbies, work and other interesting bits of information. Try to find something in common because if you are interested int he same subject or hobby, then chances are more likely that you will remember this common interest with this person. This is also important when you are studying, self learning or teaching yourself.

Even if you are your own student, don’t assume that you’ll be a good student who always listens and can take in all the information. You need to teach yourself in a way that allows you freedom to enjoy what you’re learning and relate to the material as well.

2. Reflect

This is not only step 2, but reflection is within every step of memory. Reflection is an important step towards memory because you are doing several of the memory steps at once. First, you are reflecting. Then, you are recoding-writing about what you have learned in your own words, and rehearsing. Rehearsal is a much later step but certainly does happen when reflecting. You are practicing what you’ve learned.

Reflection is a chance to digest the information, all that you’ve learned and everything you have done. It is a way o find out what you have learned, any questions and any concepts or information that you are unsure of.

It is crucial to a good memory, that you are able to recognise and then iron out any confusions that you have with what you are learning. Whether that is remembering that the person’s name is Jill, not Jane, or Sally and not Sammy. With names, it might be helpful to write acrostic poems or Mnemonics. Of course, we would only really make this kind of effort if we had to study people who we cannot meet. But it might be fun to try this out with your colleagues, friends, family members and generally, people whose name you easily forget.

As a writer, I love the idea to write a silly flash fiction of a random character but using that person’s name.

Einstein was a poor boy who lived in New York. When he was walking out in the streets on the way to school, and an adult pushed him aside and said, “Get out of the way”, he thought to himself, “Right! I’m getting out of here as soon as possible!” 

Of course, if you are learning about Einstein, it’s probably best to connect the silly story to something real about him. Like his hair.

I think of my blog posts that I write about what I’m learning in school, as both a rehearsal but also reflection as well. Sometimes it would be more obvious which one I am emphasising on. If I’m still in the process of learning or digesting, then that would be a reflection, which would come through quite clearly.

On the other hand, if this is a rehearsal, then probably it would feel a bit more structured, informative, and “I understand what I’m talking about, instead of spitting out words.” I hope this post conveys the latter.

3. Recoding

Just like Rehearsal, recoding interconnects with reflection as well. Recoding is about taking the material, concept or information, and turning organising the information into a visual organiser.

A visual or graphic organiser can be:

  • mindmap
  • brainstorm
  • PMI charts (Positive, minus, interesting/implications)
  • Venn diagrams

I confess that I stick with what I am familiar with and I don’t tend to try other forms of graphic organisers. However, I am slowly beginning to do this and one particular new chart that I like, has:

  • Simple examples
  • Examples
  • Interesting examples
  • Non examples

In there middle is the title or topic, much like a brainstorm or mind map. The other four categories are in boxes around the main topic. Another interesting note is “non examples”. I particularly like this because it allows room to make mistakes and not feel like a failure. Because giving a wrong example or answer, is countered as a “right example” of a non-example.

I can see the implications of using this table in schools. It would allow students to gain confidence and to have a go and guessing. After all, it is pretty easy to guess the wrong thing rather than be lucky to just know the right answer.

Teacher: What is 5 plus 4?

Student: 10?

Teacher: Thank you. You have given a good example of a non example. 

*writes answer on the board in correct box*

Teacher: Does anyone else have a non example to share? 

I think this also helps adults and anyone self teaching as well, but in general, humans are afraid to make mistakes. Even when we are alone making a mistake, we feel the fool. But having a “non example” category encourages us to make a mistake and be imperfect, and also helps us to see what we are learning, and what we are not. It can be good to see the opposite of what we are focused on.

This is the first part of this series, “7 steps for better memory”. I will either have one or two more posts to list the rest of the steps. Then, I will write more posts to expand on each of the steps. There is a ton of information I have not yet shared. I guess you could say I’m learning a lot. Next post will also have the reference to the book that I take all of this information from.

I will also have better examples-photos!

See you then.


The five love languages

I recently took part in a quiz. You may have heard of “The five love languages. These love languages are:

  1. Word of affirmation-you like it when people compliment you or when they notice that you cut your hair or did something good
  2. Physical touch-you like hugs and high fives. You may also like dancing or you may squeeze someone’s arm when you get excited.
  3. Acts of service: You like it when people help you with homework, the dishes, mowing the lawn and/or babysitting.
  4. Receiving gifts-This is an expression of love. Of course, make the gift meaningful.
  5. Quality time-spending time with one another with no cell phones, no tv and no other distractions.

My number on love language is Quality Time. Maybe this is why I blog-because I get to share my feelings and opinions without anyone interrupting me or telling me that I’m wrong.

My second love language is acts of service which is closely followed by receiving gifts. I love receiving gifts and it’s especially meaningful to me when the person thought about what to give me. For example, although vouchers can be handy, I prefer it when people actually buy me a product, and not let me choose in the form of a card. My last love language that apparently “doesn’t mean anything to me” is physical touch.

I do recommend everyone takes this quiz to learn more about yourself and others. But I also warn you to not take everything it says as the truth for you. They’re generalisations that may not actually be true for you. For example, I do like physical touch when:

  1. It’s from someone whose love language is physical touch
  2. If I need a massage and that person is good at it
  3. If we haven’t seen each other for a long time- in this case, I don’t hold back on giving bear hugs.

This is the link to the website and quiz. Try it out now and share with me your results.





Laidlaw journey

I thought I’d tell you the story of my journey to Laidlaw College. Get the tissue box ready, it’s pretty sad.

In 2014, I became sick. I was mentally unwell. It’s hard to believe now that I used to be suicidal. I used to want to die. I used to believe that I would by the end of 2014. I know that I believed that because I remembered what it was like, but I can’t connect with the person I was in 2014. I don’t know what she was thinking or how she felt during that time. I only know that it was a dark time.

I once heard or read somewhere that having depression was like having a dark blanket over you. I think it was like that for me. I lived in the dark. No one understood me and my thinking-though logical to me-was deeply irrational.

It’s funny because all throughout my teenage years, I never had a problem with depression or suicide or having too much pressure on myself to do well. I had no school groups, no extra curricular activities and no homework (almost never). But in the last year of high school, when I was “almost an adult”, that was when my brain flipped out.

I guess it was the pressure of suddenly having my whole life in my control. I had to take care of myself. I had to depend on myself more than on my mum. I had a lot of options and didn’t know how to decide. If I made one wrong choice, that was the end of my life.

I won’t give you all the details because it’ll be too much in one post, but I failed Level 3 NCEA. In 2015, I was both lucky and unlucky to be given a second chance at Level 3. This meant going back to year 13 for one whole year. The good news was that I passed Level 3 NCEA. The bad news was that I still think back to that year, and think, “was going back worth it?”

I still don’t know the answer to it. I’m glad I passed, but couldn’t that have been done in less than a year? I don’t know. By the end of 2015, I still wasn’t confident to go to uni. I wasn’t in a good headspace. It was better than 2014, but not good enough for the pressures of uni. I had a gap year and during this time in 2016, went to Australia and Singapore. It wasn’t completely a holiday-I went there with mum to see family.

One thing about where I was at in life, where I was expected to be at that age, and family members with good intentions, is that it doesn’t equal a relaxing holiday. It’s hard to live in a world with people who see the immediate. They see what’s in front of them with no imagination of what’s ahead. I knew great things here ahead of me but at that time, I needed to rest and wait.

But, after the holidays, the Netflix and the nothing, I was bored. So, I decided to enrol myself in NZMA, in a retail Level 3 course. Everyone thought it was a waste of time but I had a vision for myself. It was a vision I couldn’t share with anyone because they’d think I was a day dreamer. As Asians do, they would look at the probability, the cost, my skill set (or lack of) and crush my dreams. I couldn’t let anyone do that.

I didn’t need anyone to tell me I was no good or that I couldn’t do something. I already had enough doubts of my own to deal with. So, like a secret, I held onto my vision, hoping against all rationality, that this was something that could actually work. The course was for 20 weeks, so you could say it kept me busy.

In 2017, I enrolled in Retail Level 4. This was a much challenging course because I had a different tutor. The layout of the course was totally different. I still passed but didn’t learn much. Hopefully that’s not true. I hope I learned something from that. Who knows, maybe one day I can be a tutor there (and re-learn some things).

I was supposed to then enrol in level 5 Business Diploma, which sounds a lot smarter than a certificate, but I decided against it. A new season had arrived and a new passion grew inside me. I wanted to be a primary teacher. I wanted to go to a christian place so I put the two keywords together in the Google search engine and clicked on the first link: Laidlaw.

So thus, began my journey to being a student at Laidlaw College. That’s the very short version of my story. One thing I learned from all these years was that everything that happened, even the bad, all led up to the person I am and where I am now.

What my family members didn’t understand was that, there is a time to work and a time to rest. After graduating school in 2015, it was a time for me to rest. This is something my family probably still don’t understand. I still can hear what they said, echoing in my head, “What are you resting from? You haven’t even started work.”

But for some reason, somehow, I did need a rest and I’m glad I listened to my body and not to “reason. It’s like that saying by Jim Rohn; “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. Guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”

Despite all the nagging, the scolding, the lecturing, I needed to keep to the direction that I knew was right for me. I needed to listen to myself and not be swayed by popular opinion. And as much as I love my family, I’m glad I listened to myself and not to them.

Word of advice: Sometimes we need to rest. We don’t have to be working 24/7 to need a break. It is the rhythm of society’s heartbeat.