How to Improve Memory and Concentration

Have you ever bumped into an acquaintance and forgotten his name? Do you leave your grocery list at home and walk aimlessly up and down the aisles because you can’t remember what was on the list? Where did you put those keys? What about Fido’s forgotten veterinary appointment, or the clothes that are still at the dry cleaners because you forgot to pick them up?

The world is a hectic place. We all have moments when we can’t seem to remember our own name in the midst of the chaos. It doesn’t matter if you are a busy mom, a business executive, a senior citizen, a grocery clerk or an emergency room nurse; a proficient working memory is essential in today’s demanding society. Here are some helpful, strategic tips for building memory and concentration.

Listen and Pay Attention

Multi-tasking isn’t always a good thing. If you want to remember a scheduled meeting, an appointment, or a lunch date, you have listen to conversations. If you are on your computer or phone when someone approaches your desk, or makes an announcement in a meeting, stop what you’re doing and listen. If other things distract you, chances are you won’t remember the details of a conversation.

Make Memorable Associations When You Are Introduced to Someone

If you have a problem remembering names, try this trick. This method may sound funny at first, but it works. Look at the person and make a humorous visual association such as Joe’s nose, Blair with the hair, or plain Jane. Those little pieces of humor will stick in your memory and help you remember Joe, Blair and Jane the next time you see them. Mentally associate other first time observations such as Carl’s snarl, or Kate’s late.

Categorize

Separating tasks and lists into manageable categories will help you remember them. If you’re going to the post office, dry cleaners, bank and grocery store, try alphabetizing those destinations in your mind as you travel from one destination to the other. If you’re in the grocery store without a list, try mentally categorizing your shopping by department; dairy, produce, canned goods, bakery and so forth. The categorizing method works much better than a random shopping spree.

Eat, Sleep, Exercise and Remember

A healthy lifestyle enhances brain function. Try to eat lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and minimize your consumption of junk food. Your brain needs downtime to for maximum efficiency. Get plenty of rest. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Exercise is important to physical and mental health. Go for a walk instead of plunking down in front of the television. Take the kids swimming or hiking on the weekend. Your brain will thank you.

Do everything you can to protect your mental health, memory, and power of concentration. As the old saying goes, use it, or lose it!

Cite this page: N., Pam M.S., "How to Improve Memory and Concentration," in PsychologyDictionary.org, February 21, 2016, https://psychologydictionary.org/article/how-to-improve-memory-and-concentration/ (accessed July 19, 2019).
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