I woke up in the middle of the night, straight out of a dream. My first thought was, “I need to assign Jessie a to-do.” Still in the shallow-end of R.E.M., with the subconscious bubbling, I thought about project details for my internship. In this half-awake state, I was able to have clear insight into something that had been bouncing around my mind for days.
It can be hard to stay calm in times of such uncertainty, but it’s not impossible
Photo by Brian Luong
By: Christina Cahill
“Normal” is a word that no longer holds much meaning to those of us around the world who functioned on a schedule. Here at Chico State, as with everywhere else, we have a lot to come to terms with. Graduating seniors may never set foot on campus again. Our commencement has been indefinitely postponed. Plans for summer travel, studies or internships have been all but abandoned. Some of us that have received job offers have seen those offers revoked and some of us who have yet to start our job hunts find ourselves looking at a bleak market. Covid-19 hit hard and fast and, apparently, the worst is yet to come. It’s difficult to swallow the consensus of specialists that the fall out from this virus will last months at a minimum, not weeks, but the notion that our lives are to remain abnormal for the foreseeable future is finally settling into our accepted realities.
One of the most important functions of our minds is memory. It is the basis for everything we do in both our professional and personal lives.
A recent interview with a world-class memory champion revealed a lot about what we can do to flex our mental muscles in simple ways to keep our minds sharp.
U.S. memory champion Nelson Dellis revealed to Forbes some of his rather interesting techniques for making information stick, and the advice is gold for any new professional who seeks to make the most of their time – including not spending it looking for their keys.
The first tip is simply to be mindful.
When dropping your keys on the sofa in a rush, there is a slim chance that you actively noted your move or will think to dig through the cushions the next morning before work.
Dellis’ recommends people mark their memory by either visualizing an image or letting out a shout that alerts the mind of novel information. The goal is to create novel stimuli and to take a moment to actually create a memory, not just an action.
Remembering names is also an exercise in deliberate thinking.
When you meet a new person, make sure you ask them to clarify pronunciation. If the name is at all difficult to understand, ask how it is spelled and visualize the spelling as you hear it.
The act of encoding a name will make a lasting impression on your mind, much more than passively shaking a hand and not thinking twice. Whether it’s a new colleague or your date’s boss, getting someone’s name right is part of making a good impression and creating a network.
Another key element to Dellis’ memory advice is the use of images.
When dealing with complex ideas, try to imagine an image that defines a key relationship or aspect of the information. One way to store a good image of an abstract idea is to store it within a “memory palace.”
This is one way of storing ideas without simply trying to memorize. “The problem with repetition is that you’re not saving it in any place in particular,” Dellis says.
Building a palace of memories is a way to use special recognition to create common associations with abstract ideas.
It’s like framing a picture of a great day you intimately remember; when you think of it sitting on the shelf, it becomes easy to remember everything that was part of the snapshot, and details come pouring through the little frame.
Central to all of Dellis’ advice is the practice of physical exercise and good diet. With a bad diet and poor health, the workout mantra of use it or lose it works on a deeper level.
Without consistent exercise, the part of the brain linked with cognitive function and memory, the hippocampus, literally shrinks.