The art of being Forgetful

Some days I really wonder how I manage to leave the house with my shoes on or why on earth I put my keys into the fridge. I'm a master at being forgetful and I didn't even need to take an exam for it. I surprise myself time and time again how I manage to forget the most obvious things and remember useless nonsense. Most of the time it is entertaining, other times it is utterly embarrassing...like when you travel all the way to Belfast and realise you left the concert tickets on the kitchen table at home in Dublin. Although that is, on top of being forgetful, just downright silly - an epic fail really. Well hello - here's another random fact about me!


I remember when I was growing up, my dad used to say "If your bottom wasn't a part of you, you'd forget that too," - come to think of it, he said it to my mum too so maybe she's to blame? She's not. She's got an amazing memory really, dad even more so. Although dad does possess the divine ability to purposefully forget something he doesn't want to remember. That or he does it simply to infuriate me because he knows it works. What a family!


(If only I could remember what I wasn't supposed to forget...)




I do really wonder on earth I manage to be so very ridiculously forgetful when it's most inconvenient, yet at other times I truly astound myself with the things I remember. The human brain is a most curious thing. To me it works in mysterious ways, any scientist or neurologist would probably have more of a clue...if you want a refresh on what you learned in school years ago check out this fab article on "How The Brain Works" - it's got a few pictures to visualise (and a video) if that makes it more tempting ;-) There's also an article on "How The Human Memory Works" if you're interested.


Looking at a few articles online I could really take this blog into the depths of biology & co but since I highly doubt any of you will be up for that we'll save that for another day. Although, by all means, if you want to know more, hey-ho Google.com is your friend. That or do it the old-fashioned way and spend a rainy Saturday afternoon in the library...you'll be surprised what gems you'll be able to find. If you're in Ireland, the National Library of Ireland is located on Kildare Street and trust me all those books will be more than happy to share their knowledge with you. I wonder if they'd be willing to teach me how to be less forgetful...I must remember to go to the library at some point.


In the meantime, there's a ton of things we can do everyday to improve our memory apparently. I remember (!) my dad used to randomly remember phone numbers in the local phone book and recite them days later, just for a laugh. I wonder if he still knows them. He also has an astounding array of general knowledge. He'll tell you the name of the longest river in Russia (Volga River), the tallest mountain in China (Mount Qomolangma), the largest city in Europe (Moscow / London if we're talking about the EU), the Latin name for Koblenz (Confluentes, in case you were wondering and no I did not have to look that up - 18 years in that city taught me well) as well as various other facts I'd never dream of remembering. The man loves his crosswords.


On a random note, while preparing this blog I actually almost entirely forgot that I was cooking rice - a prime example of how my memory loves to fail me...


(Not an actual picture of the rice I cooked!)

I vaguely remember that (before I went to prepare and have my dinner) we were talking about improving one's memory...well let's get right on it because let's face it nothing's more annoying than having to ask your colleague the same thing for the fifth time or clicking that blasted "Forgot Your Password?" button yet again.

1) Sleep well
Good sleep is an easy way of improving our memory. When we get enough sleep, we're more refreshed and a lot more willing and able to really concentrate on absorbing information. I've made it a habit of mine to get a good night's sleep before my Chinese class. It really helps, plus nothing is more annoying that yawning continuously while my teacher is making every effort to explain something to me.

2) Teach others
When you have to explain something you have learned to somebody else you don't only need to recall the information you have previously absorbed (and hopefully understood!) no you also strengthen your own memory of the subject.

3) Use acronyms and mnemonics*
An easy but incredibly effective way to memorise things as you're drawing a connection to something else, something you may already know. By linking the two you are automatically (and with very little effort) helping yourself to remember something. Whatever you have learned is no longer an isolated memory floating around in your brain, it's made a connection with something so that quite possibly already has a few connections of it's own - you won't forget that new piece of information that quickly. It also helps to visualise new information (I do it all the time!). You will be pleased to know that contrary to what your teachers may have told you way back in school, you do learn well listening to music. Research has proven that it can be an effective way of building bridges with the information you're trying to absorb. For example, there's one particular song that I listen to that makes me recall about twenty random Latin words - I was obviously studying for a Latin way back when I listened to that song!
[*The phases of mitosis (cell division, and yes we ALL learned it in school!) are interphase, prophase, metaphase, anaphase, telophase. A fool-proof way to remember: I Propose Men Are Toads.]

This is by the way only a small selection of things you can do to help yourself with getting your memory up to speed. You can always research more but what is most important is that you find something that helps you, not something somebody else recommends or something that is a popular way of remembering information. If you have a great way of retaining information, do share!

Now, I think I've reached the stage where I cannot remember what else to write so instead of forcing the subject I'm going to let to come it to a natural ending. I hope I made you smile and maybe I've given you a few new ideas for the next time you are learning something new or trying to remember a task, number, date, etc. without covering the kitchen cupboards with post-its...although that is obviously always a solution. I sure have found a few great ways that'll hopefully help me remember stuff in the future - let's bring it on!



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