Are you feeling the pressure of final exams looming over you? Well, don't worry, because there are some simple tricks you can use to boost your memory while studying.
To help calm your anxiety, we talked to Mads Soegaard, founder of Interaction Design Foundation (IDF) who shared game-changing tips to help hack your memory. Let’s learn something new that could make all the difference in your studying routine!
1. Getting Enough Sleep
We hate to say it, but getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night will improve your life in many ways. If you're looking to strengthen your memory, the best way to do that is by letting your brain filter out everything while you sleep to keep yourself sharp.
2. Eat a Healthy Diet
Eating a healthy diet, whatever that looks like for you and your body, is one of the key components to having a stronger memory. Healthier, whole foods, keep your brain sharp and at the ready.
3. Using Coloured Pens To Make Notes
Mads Soegaard, founder of Interaction Design Foundation (IDF), says, “Writing notes in color is an effective method to boost memory performance.”
By writing notes by hand using colored pens, highlighters, and sticky notes, students are more likely to remember the key points when they head into their exams. “Writing notes by hand stimulates retention as it forces the brain to process information more detailedly, and it makes students more selective about what they are writing down,” Soegaard added.
Psychological studies have proven that writing in color can help students improve their memory by up to 80% since 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual. Moreover, the brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text because the brain sees words as individual images that we must first recognize before understanding.
“Using colored pens when writing keynotes allows students to see words as visual information rather than a block of text, which means they are more likely to understand what they are reading and can take in the news much faster than they could otherwise, Soegaard suggested.
4. Highlighter and Pen Color Matters
Moreover, color also helps to form associations between notes, as when you recall a fact linked to one shade, your brain will naturally start thinking of the other points that share the same shade.
“Students can use this association to their advantage when it comes to actually sitting their exam. By bringing something the same color as their notes into the exam with them, such as a bracelet or pen, they will trigger their brain to remember facts in the same shade,” Soegaard explained. “This is due to context-dependent memory, where recall improves because there are similar context cues around the students as when they first took in the information.”
“However, some colors are more effective than others. It is vital to choose attention-grabbing shades associated with importance — hot shades like red, orange, and yellow,” Soegaard emphasized.
Picking contrasting colors can also make information stand out more, so students may want to incorporate different sticky notes or highlighters for essential points. However, they should avoid overloading their messages as making facts more distinctive is the key.
According to Interaction Design Foundation (IDF) experts, utilizing visual learning is not limited to incorporating color only. You can also enhance your memory by:
5. Using Diagrams to Link Information
Apart from using color, students can also boost their memory by using diagrams to link information. If they find themselves zoning out when faced with a wall of text, they may want to write notes as a diagram like a spidergram, flowchart, or table.
This helps separate the information into a more digestible format and makes it easier to color-coordinate critical points without color overload.
6. Making Sure Your Room Is Well-Lit
Soegaard also advises students to make sure their room is well-lit when studying. As studying in the evening after school or work is typical, they are likely to write notes without proper daylight. Just as color can be a strong context cue, so can light, so students should learn in as close to test conditions as they can.
Meaning in a well-lit room without any other visual distractions (like TV or their phone).
7. Take a Break Every Half Hour
Finally, it is essential to take frequent breaks to recharge and reset, as it is easy to fall into the trap of spending hours on end sitting and writing notes. Students lose 85% of their input after reading for 25 minutes straight, so taking breaks every 25-30 minutes can help to boost productivity and retention of information.
During these breaks, it is vital to engage in activities that help to relax the mind and body, such as stretching, going for a walk, or simply taking a few deep breaths.
8. Final Take
According to Mads Soegaard, some will benefit more from these tips than others, as he says: “If you’re someone with a preference for seeing and observing things in your day-to-day life – including pictures and written directions – you’re a visual learner, and you’ll struggle to retain information that’s just written down with no visual elements to trigger the memory.
“Incorporating visual elements like colors, diagrams, and images into your day-to-day note-taking can help in a range of situations, not just studying – so try it out if you’re somebody who often struggles to remember important dates or personal details.
Just remember that not every strategy is going to work for everyone. Try different methods and find the right one that works for you.
9. Stay Socially Active
Having a solid group of friends is never a bad thing. Allowing yourself to be social and not avoid various engagements can improve your mood and reduce your stress level. Thus, your memory will improve!
10. Repeat Information
Repetition is key! If all else fails, write the things you need to remember down over and over again. Saying things out loud is also helpful, and keeping up a routine will improve your memory.