Can’t find your keys? Misplaced your wallet? Blanked on your new neighbor's name? When we fail to pay close attention, the memories we create are weak and we sometimes have difficulty retrieving them later. So how can you eliminate or greatly reduce such occurrences? Try these seven strategies.
1) Remember Names
Look, snap and connect, suggests psychiatrist Gary Small, M.D., director of the University of California, Los Angeles Longevity Center. When you meet someone, really look at her and listen to her name — too often, we don’t pay attention. Now make a mental picture (snap!) of her name and face, and mentally connect them: That’s Sandy, lying on a sandy beach. Just met a Mr. Paulson? Picture him shaking hands with Paul McCartney and his son. Our brains are hardwired to remember visual images, Small says. Another tip: Use your new acquaintance’s name when you say good-bye.
2) Get Everything On Your List
Make up a story using the items you need — the more absurd and dramatic, the better, says neurologist Majid Fotuhi, M.D., medical director of the Neurology Institute for Brain Health and Fitness in Baltimore. “A chicken was eating cornflakes when a car burst through the wall. A monkey was driving, throwing oranges out the window; he honked wildly as he drove off a cliff into a lake filled with milk …” The narrative will take you from item to item until you reach the end of your list.
3) Recall Online Passwords
Computer experts have a variety of tricks for this. One good one: Create a template that you personalize for each site. For instance, you might start with a word-number combo that’s meaningful to you — say, Binky11, the name of your first dog and your age when you got him. Tack on the initials or first two letters of the website that needs a password: FN for First National Bank, for instance. You’ll remember but a hacker will never guess.
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