Growing up in the UK in the early 70s one of my favourite TV programmes was the BBC children's classic, The Clangers. The Clangers were small pink, piglet-like creatures who wore clothes, spoke in whistles and lived far, far away on a small, hollow planet which kind of resembled the moon.
They dined on Blue String Pudding and Green Soup, harvested by the Soup Dragon from the planet's volcanic soup wells and always appeared to be having a jolly good time. One morning I was most surprised to discover that The Clangers had taken out a full page advert in The Daily Telegraph - a very serious, very grown-up newspaper - offering to sell their planet.
Why would they sell their planet? Where would they live? And how long had they been reading The Daily Telegraph?
So many questions, all unanswered.
It was only several years later that I learned the terrible truth - it was all a hoax. Worse still, the The Clangers didn't really exist.
Sadly, to this very day it has made me very suspicious of children's TV programmes... and believing what you read in the newspaper - adverts in particular.
Indeed, just yesterday I was reading an advertisement for a memory improvement course which offered to reveal the secrets to a super power memory.
What's more, it claimed you could unleash your super memory powers almost magically with virtually no effort whatsoever.
The seductive lure of instant results for minimal effort.
Sounds too good to be true.
And unfortunately it is.
Because improving your memory is like learning to drive a car. You start by learning the basics and then with a little time and some regular practice you get the hang of things.
You develop the skill.
Memory is a skill.
There are no secrets.
But there is actually one very simple thing you can do to boost your recall of the things that you want to remember such as people's names or the information that you read.
Review. Active review.
Statistics suggest that over 80% of detailed information that we take in is forgotten within 24 hours.
Yet you can arrest this dramatic decline by simply taking a moment to review the information you want to remember... shortly after taking it in.
For example, if you've been reading a report or studying a subject, take a brief break then spend a few minutes to mentally review what you've been reading.
What were the key points? How do these connect to what you already know about the topic? Were there any new facts and information?
Imagine yourself giving a 60 second summary of what you've just been reading or studying to a friend or colleague.
This is active review.
Or you go to a business function and meet several new people. On the way home take a moment in your mind to picture the people you met, review their names and perhaps what you discussed.
The simple act of reviewing helps strengthen memory and boosts future recall. The key is to review things shortly afterwards while the details are still fresh.
And if you review the information again the next day you'll be well on the way to committing it to long-term memory, without needing a single memory secret or slice of Blue String Pudding.
The Final Word: The Clangers don't exist and there are no super power memory secrets. Just simple, effective techniques such as active review. So start making it a habit to actively review the information you want to remember.
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