Do you tend to leave things behind, or forget names and important dates all the time? Start improving your memory by stop being so absent-minded. Be more alert to your surroundings and focus on the tasks at hand.

Memory training can be fun too; you can remember information and tasks better when you’re visualising these in relation to humorous scenarios. We ask master memory trainer Alan Yip for memory improvement tips like these and more.

Be less of a scatterbrain with these memory training
tips by Singapore trainer Alan Yip. Photography: Winston Chuang

1. MEMORISING YOUR PRESENTATION POINTS
Try remembering the ten items above in order, as an example. The following steps are taken from the Body Loci technique that Alan teaches.

  • The Body Loci technique: Point to parts of your body from top to bottom, and assign each part a number starting from one – top of your head, eyes, nose, lips, ears, neck, chest, tummy, foot and hand. Imagine the objects on the parts of your body according to the order they’re listed in. For example, the apple could be sitting on top of your head, the battery in your eyes, the pencil in your nose, and so on.

2. NAMES

  • Use it immediately; at least once or twice, after being introduced. This helps you register the name and lock it to your memory.
  • Picture the name in your mind. This will create a memorable visual association between a person and her name. For example, imagine Caroline singing a carol.
  • Use words that sound alike. This is the most useful for memorising non-English names. Alan suggests that you use any language or dialect that you know to help you with this. For example, the ‘Li’ in the name Li Feng can mean sharp in Mandarin while ‘Feng’ can mean wind in Mandarin. SO you can imagine her as a sharp wind.
  • Be sure to catch the name. Don’t be embarrassed to politely ask someone to repeat his or her name; there is no way to remember something that you didn’t register in the first place.

3. THE LOCATION WHERE YOU PARKED YOUR CAR

  • Use a rhyme method. For example, B3 sounds like a bee flying around a tree.
  • Pay special attention to your surroundings, like the lift lobby that you took the lift from.

4. THE LOCATION OF YOUR CAR KEYS

  • Be mindful when you’re putting your keys away; if you don’t pay attention, you can’t remember something, says Alan.
  • Make a mental picture of the place you’ve set your keys on, be it the bookshelf or the coffee table.
  • Imagine a comical scene, such as your keys dancing on the coffee table or drilling a hole into the bookshelf. You’ll remember better where the keys are.
  • Relax and think back to what you were doing before to help jog your memory.

5. ITEMS TO BRING ALONG

  • Imagine the item hanging on the front door: You can even exaggerate the image, like picturing a gigantic file stuck on the door, as funny images are more memorable. That way, when you’re leaving the house/ room, the sight of the door handle will trigger the image of your umbrella – or whichever item that you need to bring with you – and prompt you to retrieve it.

6. IMPORTANT DATES

  • Use a substitution technique – an image to represent each month. For example, a janitor represents January, a red packet for February, a marching boot for March and so on.
  • Use a rhyme method: assign from numbers one to 10 an object that rhymes with the sound of each number. For instance, 1-bun, 2-shoe, 3-tree, 4-door, 5-hive, 6-sticks, 7-heaven, 8-gate, 9-wine, 10-hen.
  • Use these images to put together a story: If your best friend’s birthday is Jan 18, imagine your friend with a janitor boyfriend; the two of them would be eating buns by the gate of her house.

7. THINGS TO DO

  • Mindfulness is important: focus on what you’re doing, one thing at a time, so you won’t forget.
  • Relax and retrace your steps and think back to what you were doing before. 

Alan Yip is a memory trainer and the founder of Mind Edge, a learning academy that provides training programmes for students, parents and corporate companies. Go to www.mindedge.com.sg for more information.

This article was originally published in SimplyHer December 2010.