6 Exercises to Improve your Memory and Stretch your Mind

Memory plays a very important part of all our lives. From young to old age, it creates connections and shared experiences between people, gives us the skills to develop and improve our performance and gives us joy in long-term recollection.

Memories allow us to act in the present and prepare for the future. Without it we wouldn’t be able to remember what happened yesterday, what we should do today and what we plan for tomorrow. Therefore, we should look after it and practice to improve it.

We spend a lot of money and time on improving our bodies – let’s not forget our minds! Below we explore 6 practical exercises to keep your mind in top shape. Practice makes perfect!

6 Practical Exercises to Improve Your Memory

1. Activate all your relevant past knowledge. The more that you know about something, the easier it is to learn new information related to it. Generate a link to past knowledge and you’re more likely to remember the new information and increase your productivity. This can help with remembering people’s names: look for a meaning in a name and link it to the person. This is also sometimes called name association.

Old photos in the box

2. Think of new information in different ways. Making rhymes, tunes or even puns and jokes with the new material can help your memory by creating more cues and links. Generating really distinctive ideas, sounds or images can also help with recall.

3. Learn the phonetic system for translating numbers into memorable words. It’s bad security to set all your PINs to the same number, so use this technique to memorise different pins for different cards. You can remember any string of numbers more easily by converting the numbers to words that are memorable to you, especially if they create a funny image.

4. Form mental images linking the things to be remembered. Mental imagery underlies some of the most powerful mnemonic techniques that have been recommended for over 2000 years. Forming mental images allows you to link together things which are not otherwise connected. Explore more in the following video:

5. Practise retrieving information after a suitable interval. Retrieval practice is one of the most powerful ways to improve your memory. Unlike some of the other methods, reminding yourself to remember does not require creativity or a great deal of expertise. Almost everyone can benefit from retrieval practice, from the young to the old. Timing is the key: practise too soon and it won’t help, too late and you won’t be able to remember. The best time is just before you would have forgotten the information. It’s also a good idea to test yourself quite early – especially for names – then after a short while, then after a bit longer and so on.

6. Explain or teach something to someone else. You will have to recall or restudy the information in an organised way and you won’t be able to fool yourself over parts that you don’t understand. You’ll need to make sure you understand it fully to explain or teach it to someone else!

New research has estimated that the brain can hold at least a petabyte of information, which is about as much as the World Wide Web currently holds. Isn’t that worth investing in it and using to its fullest potential?

To find out more and build your memory skills attend one of our dedicated training courses: Improve your Memory or Improving Memory with Mindmapping.


To coach, or not to coach? That is the question!

In fact, many questions!

One key role of a leader is to help those around you to be the best they can be. To empower people, they need the skill and the will to do their jobs. What happens when someone has the will, but the skill level is lacking? They need some learning and development! There are different ways of helping people – let’s focus on coaching.

If we’re going to coach people effectively, we need to understand how it really works – many people don’t! They’re probably training, teaching, explaining, advising, guiding or mentoring (you may want to check out our mentoring training courses London), but these are not the same as coaching.

So what is it then?

If you really are coaching someone, all you do is ask questions. In a training or mentoring relationship, the assumption is that at least one party has knowledge or experience to share with the other – in these cases, it’s the trainer or mentor. However, when we coach someone, the assumption is that the coachee has the knowledge or ideas buried somewhere within them – the coach’s role is to ask thought-provoking questions to bring this information to the surface.

The coach helps the coachee to realise that they know more than they think. In a coaching conversation, who should be doing most of the talking? The coachee! If not, or the coach is both asking and answering the questions, then coaching has ended and a different method is being used (training or mentoring?)!

The GROW coaching model

Person Holding A Green Plant

A popular coaching model for you to try is called the GROW model – it’s all question based:

  • What do you want to achieve?
  • What is important to you right now?
  • What areas do you want to work on?
  • What do you want to achieve as a result of this meeting?
  • Where are you now in relation to your goal?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, where are you?
  • What skills/knowledge/attributes do you have?
  • Describe your current level of knowledge regarding this topic?
  • What are your options?
  • I’d like you to come up with 5 options.
  • How have you tackled a similar situation before?
  • What might you do differently next time?
Will/Way forward
  • Choose your best options.
  • What actions will you take?
  • What will be the first step towards achieving your goal?
  • When are you going to start?

This coaching model is very flexible – at each stage, ask sufficient questions and when you feel you have learnt enough, move on.

 A final thought

The assumption when coaching is that the coachee has ideas and knowledge which the right questions should bring out. But what if the assumption is wrong, and after a few questions the only answers have been ‘dunno, dunno that either, please just tell me!’

Perhaps coaching isn’t the right approach here and it’s time for some training or mentoring? If the individual leaves knowing more than when they arrived, then you’ve helped them to learn and develop. Who cares how you got there?