Matt from 30Vanquish wrote that he's studied memory in the past and gotten quite a bit out of it, and he was kind enough to share some of his observations with us. Here's Matt -
So are you frustrated when you forget someone's phone number? Or when you forget one item to buy when you're at the grocery?
Well the reasons for forgetting aren't really forgetting.
It's more about interference.
The interference theory suggests that we are unable to remember memories, things, and events we encoded due to interference with other encoded memories, things, and events.
There are three types of interference:
-proactive - you can't retrieve new info because old encoded information interferes.
-retroactive - you can't retrieve old info because new encoded information interferes.
-output - you can't retrieve general info because specific encoded information interferes.
Proactive: When you can't quite remember the name of that new person you were introduced to because you met someone else that had a similar name a few days ago.
Retroactive: When you can't quite remember the name of that person you met a few days ago because you met someone else today that had a similar name.
Output: If you remember the person's name, then you don't recall exactly where it was.
If A is a new event and B is an older event,
Proactive: A cannot be recalled due to B.
Retroactive: B cannot be recalled due to A.
So this is the leading theory as to why some things are on the tip of our tongues when we want to recall the grocery list, the name of that person we just met, information for an exam, or a phone number.
So knowing this, there are ways to enhance the memory.
Have a good social life, with lots of laughter.
Have a good sleeping pattern.
Have a good diet with omega-3, fruits, vegetables.
Then there's the mnemonic devices.
- Chunking - This makes it easier to remember a phone number. Think of the number sequence 5-6-2-4 as 5,624.
- Visual Association - Maybe someone's name that starts with G and they have green eyes? Use the green eyes as a cue.
- Acronym - HOMES = the names of the US Great Lakes. (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior)
- Location - Think of where you put all your food when you've forgotten a grocery list.
Now that you understand interference and mnemonic devices, you'll be able to reduce the amount of forgetting in your life.
Last tip of the day: When you're studying for an exam, be a bit stressed, since it's known to help with memorizing things. However, the moment you're taking the exam, calm down. Stress during retrieval of the facts you studied over reduces performance.
Therefore, add a little stress when taking in the data.
Be stress free when retrieving the data.
Thanks Matt! Wow... some good insights. This one is quite dense - it's only 400 words, and there's a ton of information in here. I'd encourage you to give it another read-through if you didn't pick it all up, particularly the parts about forgetting due to interference.
Great post here, thanks Matt. You can find him at http://30vanquish.com/
A very good guest post by Matt Mazur - if you enjoy this (and I think you will), then you can find his blog at mattmazur.com. He currently runs two business apps: Preceden.com, a tool for making timelines, and jMockups, a high fidelity web design tool. Here's Matt -
Nine Tips for Getting Started with Life Tracking
Inspired by Sebastian’s posts about the benefits of life tracking, I decided to try it for myself. After several false starts, I’ve now been doing it for almost two months straight and have had some great results. In this post I’ll explain how my current tracking system works and I’ll share some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way.
How it Works
Every Sunday morning I print an eight page document that I use throughout the week to track various aspects of my life. The first page is an overview, which I will fill out at the end of the week to summarize my results. The remaining seven pages are devoted to each day of the week.
Sometimes, eventually, a decision must be made - Fr. Anthony Odiong, one of the wisest people I've ever met
I've heard this from several people now, and it makes sense: Tough decisions don't matter, since the reason why they're tough is presumably because the risk/reward for all of the options is nearly equal and thus neither is clearly better. But since they're nearly equal, why not just pick one?
Obviously this isn't prudent in every case, but spending a lot of time deliberating certainly can't be the best option.
On the other hand, due to circumstances, sometimes it does pay to take more time for reasons having nothing to do with the decision itself. I'll use an example: social networks. While obviously there are many reasons why Facebook took off whereas Myspace et all didn't, being first certainly didn't help Myspace. In fact, I remember most of my friends switching to Facebook because it was "a better social network than Myspace".
Think about that. If Myspace and Xanga hadn't been around, the concept of 'social network' wouldn't have existed. Then there would be nothing to compare it to. Now if Facebook had come around a couple years later, there might've been an entirely different giant in that niche. They launched at an optimal time.