10 ways to improve your memory

The new Sandi Toksvig-fronted series Can I Improve My Memory? is set to debut on Channel 4  from tonight (July 15), and will see celebrities attempting to bone up on niche subjects at breakneck speed. But can you improve your memory too? Potentially you can, with these mind-magnifying tricks…

Pay attention

We promise we’re not trying to be glib, but the best way to remember something is just… concentrate. Concentration is a deliberate process – info doesn’t enter your brain by osmosis – and reading or listening to something isn’t the same as actually paying attention to it. When you actively marshal your mind, you may find it’s surprisingly effective.

Remember GIF by memecandy - Find & Share on GIPHY


Practice makes perfect, and repetition is route one to learning in almost every walk of life. Write it on your hand, put a pop-up on your phone, put a post-it on your bathroom mirror. It will eventually go in.


We’re sure you crossed swords with mnemonics at primary school. Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain (the colours of the rainbow); Big Elephants Can’t Always Use Small Exits (the spelling of ‘because’); My Very Easy Method Speeds Up Naming Planets (the planets plus Pluto).
The trick when learning new facts now is to make up your own mnemonics, using sentences you personally are unlikely to forget. Adding in some startling images and even a few rude words may help it stick!

GIF by Groundhog Day - Find & Share on GIPHY

Word association

We all have weird little associations that help us recall information, whether it’s simple wordplay, or being in some way linked to your existing knowledge or memory. Stalag-tites hold on tight-ly, stalagmites might reach the ceiling. It barely even makes sense, but if it helps, it doesn’t have to.

Visualise it

Different people memorise best in different ways, and while some are especially attuned to words and audio, others find vivid visual aids far more conducive to processing information. Instead of remembering that your niece’s birthday is October 15th, remember a calendar with the relevant date ringed in red, alongside a brightly-coloured birthday cake.

Memorize In My Head GIF by The Girlfriend Experience - Find & Share on GIPHY

Tell someone else

A trick often used by students and schoolchildren revising for their exams, the best way to remember something is to explain it to someone else. This serves three purposes: first, it makes you repeat all the salient points, second, it exposes your blind spots, and third, it makes you feel like you’ve got the facts at your fingertips. If you think knowledgeable, you’ll be knowledgeable.

Break it down into bits

Your short-term memory can only handle so much complexity, so it’s worth breaking information down into manageable chunks that put the bigger picture into context. No one remembers their phone number as a single entity, they remember it as three or four numbers back-to-back.

Lovedaily GIF by AwesomenessTV - Find & Share on GIPHY


Study after study has shown that meditation and relaxation techniques can improve short-term memory and processing power in people of all ages, even when not practised regularly. Research even suggested that meditation increases the amount of grey matter in the brain.

Sleep on it

It’s an old adage that you remember best what you see before you sleep, and for once an old adage is actually true. A bulk of research shows that if you study new material then sleep, you remember said material better than if you’d stayed awake for the equivalent amount of time. In other words, use your all-nighters wisely.

Tired English GIF by Boomerang Official - Find & Share on GIPHY

Have a healthy lifestyle

This sounds super-obvious, but you’ll struggle to retain information if you’re sleep-deprived, you won’t concentrate effectively if you’re low on blood sugar, and exercise sharpens the mind and strengthens neural pathways. And if you drink too much, you’ll affect some memories very directly indeed.

The following two tabs change content below.

The Press Association

News from the Press Association - the national news agency for the UK and Ireland

Leave a Comment!

Not a member?

You need to be a member to interact with Silversurfers. Joining is free and simple to do. Click the button below to join today!

Click here if you have forgotten your password

Community Terms & Conditions

Content standards

These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.

You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.

Contributions must:

be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.

Contributions must not:

contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.

Nurturing a safe environment

Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.

We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!