Dec 19 2008

Using Web Tools and Memory Techniques to Remember Anything

pencils-and-moleskines

Sadly the mind doesn’t remember everything we want to, but we can try to change that. You will need the right tools to be able to remember everything you want. The main point is to use other devices to help you remember everything for a short period of time. You will use the devices to help commit the information to your mind.

The first step to remembering something is to record it for future reference. You might feel like it is easy to remember at the moment you learned it, but it won’t be so easy to recall in weeks to come. Here is a list of a few applications I love to use.

I would suggest first setting up a nice homepage or bookmark that you will check often. This will be the control center for remembering everything. I use iGoogle for my homepage and I will often keep one tab in my browser open to it at all times in case I need to use it. You will want to make a separate tab inside iGoogle for all the gadgets to remember everything. Add Jott, Gmail, Google Calendar, Remember the Milk, and Google Notebook. These will allow you to handle all the things you need to remember in one nice place.

Now, to use these services


Edit: Jott has removed their free services, but they still provide the same service and more for a little money.
Jott – This is a service that allows you to record for 15 seconds(or up to 30 seconds if you pay for the service). You can easily call Jott in order to remember that thought you just had. For example, I might see a flyer for an interesting gathering, so I will call Jott

“Who do you want to Jott?”

“Myself”

“Myself. Is that correct?”

“Yes.”

BEEP.

“Interesting event on December 19th at 3pm, Record on Google Calendar”

This is a very handy way to keep everything in one nice place. You can upgrade your account to have it add the event to Google Calendar or email it to you, but the free version will work fine. In iGoogle you have Jott, so this will show you all the things that you have recorded. You can easily transfer the information to the application you want, such as Google Calendar to set a date, Google Notebook to write down notes, or even email it to yourself.

So, this works for nice little reminders, but what about big information you want to remember? Suppose your boss just got done telling how to do a project. You assume that you will remember every detail in a week when it is due, but you can’t afford to forget anything. Simply send it to Jott on your way to somewhere. It doesn’t take any extra time. This is also a great service if you rely on your imagination. Do you have a great idea to write about, then send yourself a note with Jott.

Gmail – You can easily email yourself wherever you might be. This requires that you have text messaging, but you can simply send the text message to your email instead of a number. If you want to keep the things you need to remember separate from other emails, then just set up a filter to apply a label to anything containing the word “remember” and archive it. When you want to review the things you need to remember, simply look up the label. Gmail uses Google’s advanced search technology which makes it very easy to find things in a later date. It can make an awesome filing system.

Google Notebook – This is for the times that you aren’t far from a computer. It will be placed on your homepage, so it should be easy to access when you find something to add. You might find a recipe that you want to make, so add it to the Notebook. You found a movie that you might want to see, then add it. You get the picture. Just make sure to write it down or else you will forget it!

Google Calendar – This would be ideal for dates, but you can also have time sensitive date on here. You have to remember a birthday or event. You can remember due dates for projects. One nice thing is using reminders so that you don’t miss something important. You will want to use the calendar to remind yourself to review the material you are trying to remember. This brings us to the next part of remembering everything.

Assuming that you do record everything, then you are a step closer to remembering it without any help. The key is to use memory techniques in order to commit information to memory. This can be as simple as reviewing often or as complex as a concept map. Here are a couple ways to help your memory.

Connect it – You aren’t going to remember random facts easily. You might want to remember simple facts that you learned in class or somewhere else. You just learned that the drink, “White Russian” is made with coffee liqueur, milk, and vodka. This isn’t hard to remember, but it is an easy example. Perhaps you can use the letters CMV to connect it. Calling Mom with Vodka is bad.

Picture it – It might be a bit hard to connect it, so use pictures to connect it. Coffee and Milk are common for a morning jolt, so picture a white Russian getting his morning jolt from vodka instead of coffee with milk. Try to make the pictures as unique as possible. You won’t remember a bunny, but you sure will remember a bunny that is dressed like a fly.

Rehearse it – It is pretty common sense that if you repeat something then it is easier to remember. You will need to rehearse it over a period of time instead of a lot of times in a short period. Such as, repeating what the ingredients after one day, one week, one month, and four months. Attempt to write down everything you remember and compare it to the notes you recorded. You can identify which aspects are harder and which are easier. This is important to remembering things for a long term.

So, let’s try this with a unique example. You stumble across a wonderful quote in a book. You would want to record it first. If you are away from your computer then I would suggest using Jott to quickly send it to yourself. When you arrive at a computer then you transfer it from Jott to Google Notebook or Gmail to file it for future reference. Set up Google Calendar to remind you in a day, week, month and four months to remind you to review it. If it is a complex quote, then connect it to something you already know. If you wanted to remember, “Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys. Look on them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death!” by Sun Tzu, then you would picture soldiers as children. Make it a wild picture that is unique. Babies holding guns dressed as soldiers, and have them in a long line in a valley. Next connect the babies in the valley with a thought of death standing next to you. This will help remember it with the addition of reviewing it. You can apply this to anything, and technology only makes it easier to do it.

Go find something interesting and remember it!

Photo by Paul Worthington

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