I.C. Robledo ends his concise, informative Practical Memory: A Simple Guide... with, “Create the Life You Want to Remember.” This is like the philosophy of existentialists Sartre and Camus, who urged each of us to create a life we can be proud of, be pleased with. Robledo’s book has useful tips for remembering that life and using our memory to be more effective within it.
This author has written several monographs on improving the use of our minds. His emphasis is advice/techniques we can use, rather than theory, thus the title of this excellent book.
He starts with a catalog of general memory disrupters, having himself developed memory problems in graduate school, a most inconvenient time. A doctor alerted him to some basic memory inhibitors: inattention, lack of sleep, nutrition/medication problems, and stress. Each of these has specific steps that can remedy them.
Inattention is cured with mindfulness, active awareness. To help finding your keys, always put them back in the same spot. If you are not sure you’ll remember that spot, picture it in your mind as you put the keys there. To find them, picture what you were doing when you put them down.
Trying to learn something new, give yourself little tests.
Simplify and organize your working/studying environment to lessen distractions.
When traveling, before you leave the hotel or restaurant, put anything you fear you’ll forget, and cannot carry on you, right by your keys, so they all come with you.
To find your car in the parking lot, note the aisle letter/number or where the aisle begins or ends. Picture mentally how you entered the area and parked.
Maintain lists, like shopping lists. You may end up away from your list, yet within reach of the store, so use the first letters of the items to form a word or near-word to help you remember: Milk, Bread, prescriptions (Rx), Tape…MBRT could become “My BRaT” or “huMBeRT,” ignoring the lower-case letters.
Don’t just put a string around your finger: make the memory aid specific: if you need to buy another of an item, leave the empty container where you’ll see it, an “unforgettable cue.”
Putting a name to a face has two elements: remembering who the person is and what his name is. When introduced, try to note the association/relationship you have with him or with the introducer and try to find a way to remember him name as well.
For association, think where you met, who was there, why you were there, what happened when you were there…paying attention to these at the time will make remembering easier. You use the journalists’ litany: who, what, when, where, why, and how?
After being introduced, use his or her name several times as soon as practical, and then look for things to link it to: persons and places, words that sound similar. “Frank” reminds me of….
I remember that a new client, Cheryl B., is a retired RN, as is my old friend, Cheryl C.
A structure to link your memory to is the alphabet. Trying to remember his name, go through in order: Alan, Andrew,…; Bart, Bert,…; Carl….
You may lose your wallet and cell phone and need an important number. Some numbers should be memorized, as I had to do decades ago as a child. When you have your cell phone and some spare time, memorize crucial phone numbers.
Also, write down needed information; the Chinese say, “The palest ink outlasts memory.”
I.C. Robledo notes the Internet serves as a great technological repository of memories. I told a client about an intellectual who used comedy and laughter to fight his cancer…and succeeded. I couldn’t recall his name, but Google found it for me: Norman Cousins.
The last portion of this book covers techniques for recalling more of what you’ve seen and done while sight-seeing, useful for others, but not for me, as I almost never travel.
This book is a bargain. It will help you appreciate your life more and succeed well beyond your current performance level.
I.C. Robledo writes clearly on interesting topics. His books are bargains.
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