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Everyone wants to remember more but especially when they are learning! 

Rule #1: You must be paying attention in order to create an accurate memory

Image by Morgan Housel

Short Term

5-10 seconds

This is the kind of memory that lasts only a few seconds.

Image by Ganapathy Kumar

Working Memory

5-30 seconds

This is the memory that we don't really think about. When you are doing things, more than one thing at a time, that's working memory. 

You can think of your working memory as an octopus with 4 tentacles. You have four slots that your brain can realistically fill without dropping everything (forgetting).

Ideally, you want to only pay attention to one thing at a time. That is how you maximize your memory. 

Items that you correctly keep in working memory will be sent to long term memory (that's a great thing for learning).

Meditation in Forest

Long Term

Potentially forever!

These are memories that you can retrieve long after the memory was created.

While it is tempting to study for the test, you likely won't remember the information after the test. What if you have a final at the end of the year? Instead of having to completely relearn all the material you did not send to long term memory, wouldn't it be so much better to just have to review the information to trigger your brain to retrieve the information you already learned?!


Chunk information to help your brain! 

What is chunking? Chunking is when you group information together and remember it as a chunk instead of individual pieces.

Try this: can you remember these numbers?


How about now?

(764) (839) (9024)

Look familiar? Chunking is why it is so easy to remember phone numbers!

Meaning Making

Your brain is constantly looking for meaning, especially when it is learning new material. 

When you are learning something new, make sure you zoom out and understand what it truly means. 

One reason that we forget information is absentmindedness, or not attending to what we are learning. 

Sometimes we think that we understand something because we are reading it in the moment but when the time comes to demonstrate our understanding on the test, we suddenly cannot remember. You need to truly make meaning from what we are learning. 

  • Make connections 

  • Zoom out

  • Think about the information in another context


Making connections between the new information and the information you already know is absolutely essential for memory and learning.

One way to boost learning is to make a mind map where you connect your new learning to information you already know. 

Another way to make connections, especially while reading is to use a KWL chart (linked below)


One fantastic memory strategy is to create a story in your mind. 

Nelson Dellis, a 4x USA Memory Champion (yes, that is a thing) uses this strategy to help him remember information. 

So, how can you use this for learning?

Let's pretend you have to learn 10 new vocabulary words. You can create a story in a few different ways:

  • Make flashcards and place them around the house. Walk around your house and imagine where the word is in your house.

  • Write a story about something funny using your 10 vocabulary words mixed in!

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