AIM to improve your memory

AIM to improve your memory even more. Attention Interest Meaning

This article is courtesy of Phil Chambers Learning Technologies Ltd with a few of my own ideas thrown in.

Summary: Pay attention and your improved memory will will surprise you. Invest in attention and it will pay great dividends. When it comes to remembering stuff, create more interest and make it relevant to your circumstances and have fun. Be as wacky as your imagination will go and this added meaning will serve your memory well.


I could write at great length about memory principles, techniques and systems but this month, I thought I’d just give you three valuable tips that can combat the everyday failings of memory that convince many of us that we must be going prematurely senile.

So you remember them they spell out the simple acronym AIM!


How often are you fully in the moment giving your full attention to your surroundings?

With our every busier lives we have more and more demands on our time and our attention. Inevitably we disregard and filter out what is deemed unimportant at that moment.

For example, on the way to an important meeting, where you parked your car is not going to be at the forefront of your mind so is not paid attention to. When you come in from work, you put your keys down and focus on your kids, spouse, whoever is more important to you. Hours later your
have to waste time looking for your keys because you paid no attention to where you left them.

Similarly, imagine you’re a meeting some for the first time. You want to make a good impression so are thinking about what you are going to say to them while they are telling you their name. You are not paying full attention. It is little wonder then that you instantly forget it.

The insidious thing about inattention is you don’t notice it happening. The consequence of not being able to recall whatever, happens hours or sometimes days later so is you don’t make the connection to the cause. As a result you make the incorrect assumption that the there is a defect
in your brain, that you have a bad memory. This false belief starts to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you accept forgetting as inevitable you don’t even try to memorize things. You end up writing everything down and either get swamped in notes so you can’t find the information you need quickly or worse, you forget where you put the note. Rather than relying on note making or trying to ‘fix’ the problem with your brain by buying brain training software. Just invest a bit of attention
and stop forgetfulness before it occurs.

As you walk away from you car, look back for a second and deliberately observe the landmarks that identify where you left it. Is it near a distinctive tree, a lamppost or a particular building? This will be enough to lock the information into your memory.

When you meet people, focus on them. Listen each person’s name. Repeat it in your head or back to them out loud. If it is an unusual name, check that you heard it correctly. Ask them what it means. Ask them how to spell it and then repeat it back to them exactly the way they said it. Spelling it BACKWARDS in your head will really cement their name – for ever!

The simple act of paying attention will make a massive difference.


Are you interested in a particular sport or have a hobby that you are passionate about? Isn’t it easy to learn facts about it?

Ask a young football fan about their team. They can name all the players, all the scores of the matches that season and for years gone by, who scored the goals and when. This is a huge amount of data that they can recall effortlessly. Ask the same person about what they learned in their physics lesson and they are stumped.

Interest plays a massive role in memory. The brain is terrific at discarding unimportant data. If you’re not engaged and interested in something then you don’t assign it significance. The brain assumes that the information is unimportant so doesn’t store it.

We all sometimes have to learn stuff that we find tedious and dull. How can you make it more fun? Can you make it relevant to your life?

Say, you have to learn Newton’s laws of motion. If you’re not a physics geek like me then I guess this probably doesn’t strike you as fun. If, on the other hand, you are taught how Ronnie O’Sullivan can make a 147 break in snooker or how a rocket gets to the moon then that is interesting. Basically, this involved the same physics.


If something is meaningless it is hard to remember.

In the World Memory Championships competitors remember hundreds of binary digits. What could be more meaningless than endless stings of ones and zeros? They are able to memorize them because they give them meaning. Each group of digits are converted into a character or an action. Buy using placing these in familiar locations they take on meaning. For example, if Albert Einstein was firing a gun at Marylyn Munroe in you’re your living room, I think you might remember that!

The more unusual you make a mental picture the more memorable it becomes. So even though you will never actually see Albert Einstein fire a gun at Marylyn Munroe in your living room (mainly because they are both dead) – your imagination can make it seem real.

In everyday life, the same rules apply. If you’ve left you mobile phone at home and you don’t have a pen and paper to hand but a gorgeous girl (or hunky guy depending on your proclivity) gives you his/her number, you need to remember it.

If numbers are important to you then you can learn a complex system to make them stick in your memory. If you don’t feel like the work required to do this, you can give them meaning in another way.

Say the number 0207  9921101

Break it down:

0207 99 21 101

Your bedside clock read seven minutes past two in the morning, you are awoken by someone playing Nena’s Eurovision hit ‘99 Red Balloons’.

It’s you neighbour’s 21st birthday party

As you look out of the window to complain you see 101 Dalmatians bounding down the road.

Doesn’t the story mean more than the number?

With these three simple techniques and no complicated mnemonics you can make you memory work better. If you want to make it super-human then you do need to learn some more sophisticated techniques. For most people though, knowing where you left the car keys, remembering the names of people you meet and the phone number of a hot date would be
a pretty good start.