There are many reasons that I will get into shortly. But first I have a few questions for you.

1. Have you ever had an idea that you wanted to explore but got stuck in the process?
2. Do you ever wish your memory was better?
3. Have you ever wished you were more organized?

4. Is your desk at home/work a mess of papers that you have to sift through every time you need something?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you can benefit from using a mind map. If you answered no to all of these questions, you can still benefit from mind maps. The great thing about mind maps is that they are designed to be user friendly and work in a wide variety of situations.

mind map

Mind Map Improves Memory

Do you feel like your memory was great as a kid but got progressively less effective as you aged?

I think most of us feel this way at one point or another in our lives. But age is not entirely the cause. The reason you were able to remember so well as a kid is largely because you didn’t have a lot of information to retain. Your brain was a virtual clean slate so the information that you received was able to be fully processed and retained. As you age the amount of information you receive increases exponentially. You go from only having to focus on play to having to focus on school which gets progressively more complex as you go from elementary school to college. Then once you finish college, you have to focus on your job, your family and your daily responsibilities. Toss in there our need for socialization and activity and you add friends and hobbies to that list. When you really take a moment to think (It’s ok, you can do that here), you have a lot of information in your mind at any given moment and all of it is important to you for some reason or another.

No wonder we become more forgetful as we age. We go from a very singular focus to a multi focused lifestyle and fill our brains with a lot of facts and information that can be jumbled together depending on how we receive and process it. So give yourself a break. You’re probably not as forgetful as you think. You are just being bombarded with information and not allowing yourself the time to process it properly. But now that you are aware that information overload could be the reason why your memory isn’t as good as it used to be, you may be wondering how to fix it.

Improves Focus And Helps You Concentrate

One of the biggest reasons why we lose our ability to remember things is because we’re not actively focusing on the information when we receive it. How many times have you been told something while you were doing something else? When you tried to think back to remember, your mind seems to go blank and you blame it on your bad memory before moving on to the next thing. It’s not your memory that’s bad. It’s your level of concentration and focus. I can’t help but blame some of this on the increased popularity of multi-tasking. Yes it is sometimes important to juggle multiple tasks at once but there are many people who have made multi-tasking a way of life. This is highly inefficient because you are essentially splitting your attention between multiple things as a habit.

Multi-tasking is valuable when you’re doing things that don’t require a lot of in depth thought. For example if you need to do a large mailing, it’s very possible to stuff envelopes while you have a conversation with someone else. Stuffing envelopes doesn’t require much advanced thought and once you get into a rhythm, it becomes an automatic process. The challenge comes when you are having a conversation while reading. Both tasks require some level of advanced thought and focus. If you try to do them simultaneously under the guise of multitasking, you may look up and realize that you didn’t retain any information from either the conversation or the passage you were reading. When you multi-task, your productivity drops by 40%. Your brain is actually unable to truly process doing two or more things at one time. Rather, it switches back and forth between the different tasks you’re tackling. So rather than being more efficient, you are really just splitting your brain waves. We have to take the time to truly focus on the information that we need to receive and process. But this doesn’t mean that you have to take several minutes to do this. Oftentimes it only takes a few seconds to stop, receive the information and process it. Then you can move on to something else. But in this case when you need to recall the information, you’ll find it much easier.

Teaches You The Use Of Association And Grouping

When you have to remember something, especially when it’s something new and unfamiliar, one of the easiest ways is to associate it with something you already know. You can associate it with a specific word or an experience. Anything you can use that will connect the concept in your brain will make it easier to recall later. Once we’ve retained a specific piece of information, it becomes a part of our internal knowledge bank. If we’re able to tie new information to our knowledge bank, it’s easier to remember. Henry Markram at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne conducted a study of the neurons in the brain that process and retain information. He discovered that although the brain is malleable and can grow and change as we do, the information we receive is organized more structurally like in lego blocks. He found and coined the “common neighbor rule”: the chance that any two neurons are linked, and the strength of the bridge between them, is directly proportional to number of neighbors they share. Essentially, if the information you receive is similar to information you already know, it will be strengthened in your knowledge base and be retained more effectively than information that is completely foreign to you. So by associating or grouping new information with old knowledge, you increase your likelihood of remembering it.

Some Memory Improvement Tips

Here are some tips to help you with your memory.

Use more than one of your senses

We have five senses; sight, sound, touch, taste and feel. The more senses we engage at any given moment the more memorable that moment becomes. This is why actions speak louder than words. When someone tells you something, they’re only engaging your sense of sound. When someone does something to or for you, they’re engaging your sense of sight, touch and feeling as well as sound. They may even be engaging your sense of taste depending on the situation. Have you ever heard the popular saying “People will forget what you say but they will never forget how you made them feel”. This is because feeling is a powerful experiential based sense.

When you want to remember something, look for ways to stimulate more than one of your senses. For example, if you have a passage of text to memorize, try reading it aloud. Then try reading it while picturing the words in your mind. By engaging both your sense of sound and sense of sight, you increase your chances of remembering the information more quickly. The next time you try to recite the passage you will probably find it easier to recall. Another technique that involves utilizing multiple senses are mnemonic devices.

Mnemonic devices are simple tools and clues that can be used to remember things. You can use visual cues. For example, if you meet a woman named Daisy who has a daisy in her hair, you can remember the flower and the woman with the picture of the daisy. You can also use sentences or acronyms with the first letter of each word being the first letter of something you want to remember.

For example, ROY G. BIV which is the acronym name used to remember the colors in the rainbow. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet. Or there’s Ev e r y Go o d Bo y Do e s Fine to remember the music notes of a treble clef. Another popular mnemonic device is rhyme or song. One of the ways that young kids are taught the alphabet is through the Alphabet Song which is simply a sing song version of the letters of the alphabet. But I can bet that many of you have to sing the alphabet song to remember specific letters even after you’re out of pre-school.

Focus on basic ideas and concepts

If you have to remember information that is complex and multi-layered, it’s best to focus on the basic ideas rather than trying to remember the more complex concepts right away. Most times really complicated information is simply multiple basic concepts layered over one another. So if you’re able to identify and remember the basic concepts, you can then use association to figure out how those basic ideas work together to become the more complex information. Sometimes the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. Taking large, complex bits of data and breaking it into smaller pieces will definitely make it easier to digest.

Relax and take your time

Trying to remember something when you’re under stress is never going to be truly effective. You might succeed at memorizing it in the moment but any long term use of that knowledge is going to be virtually nonexistent. Yes, there are some people that can excel in high stress situations but when your body is at a heightened state of physical and mental arousal, what you tend to remember after it has returned to normal is the feeling and the experience, not necessarily the information.

Improving memory is a skill that can be taught and fine-tuned. For those of you who have just decided that you have a bad memory, you probably don’t. You just don’t use your good memory very effectively. If you take the time to improve your memory, you’ll realize that your brain capacity is much greater than you initially thought.