Can you draw the Apple logo from memory?
Are you sure? Try it right now. The answer may surprise you.
Only 1 out of 85 participants got it right in this interesting study on human memory. Even though most of see the Apple logo nearly every day, our memories just don’t store all the little details. It just goes to show that we know little about our own brains. We trust ourselves, even when the evidence says we shouldn’t. Forgetfulness is a human characteristic, but it’s hard to appreciate just how much we lose every day.
But back to you:
- How many books and articles do you read every year? Every day?
- How much of that information do you retain?
If you are reading this now, you will forget 80% of it within a month. Without going into the complexities of memory, let’s just say that your memory is a hostile place to information that doesn’t get repeated and rehearsed. That’s bad news for the tremendous amount of wisdom we read every day. Or that great tip we want to apply when the time is right.
The good news is that forgetfulness can be beaten. Memory researchers say that spaced practice can lead to better learning. In the book Make It Stick, psychologist Henry L. Roediger III says,
“The increased effort required to retrieve the learning after a little forgetting has the effect of retriggering consolidation, further strengthening memory.”
The book also notes that a little forgetting can be a good thing. You can re-study while combining the practice of one skill or topic with another. This is the same principle which goes into active recall memory and the use of flashcards for spaced practice.
Their advice is for better study skills, but many of these tools are applicable to all types of knowledge we don’t want to forget. Here are a few tools which can help you win the memory game and keep advice for longer.
Mindmory (iOS, Free)
Remember life rules with do’s and don’ts.
You should like Mindmory for its sheer simplicity. This new app is designed to be a mind dump of all the good life tips you read about. Capture all the personal growth rules you want in Do’s and Don’ts.
For e.g. all actionable ideas can be divided into Do’s and Don’ts list. Steve Jobs’ famous “Don’t be afraid of dogma” is a Don’t. So also will be his other famous one – “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice”. While a Do list could have his inspiring “Stay hungry, stay foolish” message. All life tips can be organized into categories.
Mindmory uses spaced repetition to display the actionable ideas (Do’s and Don’ts) on your homescreen.
Populating your mind with inspiring rules of life is just one part. Mindmory uses darker shades of green / red to display the strength of those ideas in your daily life. Let’s say, a consistent mistake is bugging your productivity. Prioritize the actionable idea to solve it with the visual ranking so the spaced notifications can help you actively recall the solution you have set for it.
Mindmory also has a Grey Matters view. This is the place for all non-actionable ideas you want to keep around. The app also helps you load fresh ideas with some pre-made ones available on it.
Download: Mindmory (iOS)
Exercise your active memory.
This is a spaced repetition tool in your browser packaged as a Chrome extension. Add anything you want to remember to a Quiz Card. MemoButton uses spaced repetition to quiz you at regular intervals so that you remember better. MemoButton is useful for learning a new language, remembering keyboard shortcuts, or simply for recalling ideas from the web.
Stats on the account page gives you more insights. Organize all your quiz cards from your account page. You can separate them into “easiest” and “hardest”. The hardest to remember facts can be made easier with extra facts, context, or mnemonics. The developers say that you will get a fresh perspective every time an idea repeats itself. One day, it just might click enough and help you develop an idea of your own.
Paul Graham, the Founder of the business accelerator Y-Combinator wrote an essay on How to get startup ideas. This example shows you how to use MemoButton and focus on the best ideas.
FlashTabs is another well-designed spaced repetition extension. It’s a promising Chrome extension you can use to start improving your memory this year.
Highlight the best from the ebooks you read.
Now, let’s tackle the knowledge in the books we read. If it’s a physical book then Maria Popova’s suggestion to create an idea index is priceless. If it’s an ebook on your Kindle, Clippings.io might have an answer.
The web app gives you all the features to manage highlights on your Kindle ebook. You can go to your Amazon Kindle Highlights page too, but Clippings.io does it more elegantly. You can edit, search, tag and annotate your clippings. Organize the books read and the annotations made into collections. Go back and re-read the exact passages from a particular book. Search through your book notes by book title, author, content, and type. Clippings also allows you to export your clippings to beautifully formatted Word, Excel and PDF documents.
But most of all – you can push all the clippings to Evernote. A notebook is created for each book. Each annotation gets a note in specific notebooks. This should help you to use the space to pad it up context, links, and visual aids.
This Evernote integration helps the next Evernote add-on come to the fore for our review and recall needs.
Review with flashcards on Evernote.
Author and media strategist, Ryan Holiday gives a beautiful example of a commonplace book to store all that he reads. He uses systematic “notecards” to remember what he reads. Evernote can do the same role for those who are digitally inclined. Reflect is one reason to go digital.
Reflect helps you memorize and reflect on your notes, with scheduled flashcard reviews of what you’ve saved in Evernote. Reflect works on every device, so you can use it on the go or when there’s some downtime at the supermarket queue.
Bakari shows you how to set up automated note reviews with Reflect and Evernote. You can specify the particular notebook or notebook stack to review and also filter it with tags. For instance, a notebook with all the life hack tips and ideas. Pay close attention to the schedule as this is where the spaced repetition kicks in. With flashcards you can navigate through the cards more deliberately and quickly.
Android users? Take a look at Revunote which can also plug into Evernote and help you review your notes.
How Do You Slow the Speed of Your Forgetfulness?
When you think back, a little tip goes a long way to help improve our lives. This article came about through a wall of writers block and the Rule of 52 and 17 tip I remembered from The Daily Muse. The idea also came from my own forgetfulness which outpaces my reading.
Regular reviews of valuable tips helps keep them fresh. Going back to old material also helps us think about it differently from the time we first read it. That might just open up new awareness. So, don’t let forgetfulness be the pirate of your thoughts.
What is your method of collecting the best tips you find on the web? Which is the specific tool you use to collate and review your notes? Don’t forget to add your tips in the comments.