improve your memory

Photo by Martin Fisch


Creative professionals are expected to retain an unwieldy assortment of information. From client preferences to Pantone codes to pricing schemes, that you digest and retain a nearly impossible number of details is essentially a requirement of the job.

And the bad news is remembering everything you learn is actually impossible. In fact, author and PhD. Art Markman explains in his CreativeLive class, “in any given situation we tend to remember approximately three things about every situation that we encounter.”

But there’s good news, too — which is that you can improve your memory, by being mindful of the things you actually want to hold on to. You just have to intervene if you want to dictate which details your brain holds on to. And that requires you to make managing your memories a habit.

“Most of us leave our memory of things up to chance. We need to stop doing that,” Art says.

Art has spent his career studying habit formation and human behavior and it turns out the trick to helping your brain along is, “finding connections among the pieces of informations we are learning about.” Thats why mnemonic devices work so well, he explains.

Unfortunately not every Emily you meet is an engineer who prefers emerald green. So you have to find other kinds of connections.

Basically, it comes down to three actions:

  1. Organize what you want to remember first
  2. Focus on those elements
  3. Repeat them to yourself afterward

Art advises you start by figuring out what you want to learn. If you are at a networking event and names and companies are highest on your list, be explicit about telling yourself that those two pieces of information are your highest priority items. By defining your priorities, it becomes easier to focus on those aspects the conversation.

Then, be sure to draw your own attention to those elements when they arise. When you head a name, remind yourself that you wanted to remember it.

Once you’ve nabbed the details you hope to hold onto, repeat them to yourself. You can do that by spending the awkward seconds required to actually restate the important facts out loud to yourself – that way you reinforce the good work of organizing and focusing on the memories you just made.

Essentially, what it takes to improve your memory is the development of new, memory-aiding habits. It find out other ways that habits can help you grow your business and change your life, check out his class, The Power of Habits.