Me: As we move into an era with more and more distractions, our concentration levels decrease. Our dependance on reminder applications and personal diary planners increases, and we tend to forget things more frequently. But why?
Allah (subhanahu wa ta‘alaa) has given us a very powerful gift that we must be thankful for. The Mind. Through it we have the ability to think, to imagine, to plan, to ponder and the list goes on. This mind also has the ability to (a) store thoughts in what we refer to as the memory and (b) to recall these thoughts at will. We use this memory to well, remember pretty much everything.
You: This is interesting, you are interesting, and have my full attention (like always). Please, carry on. 🙂
Me: Good. Dekho, many of us don’t use this amazing gift of the mind up to its true potential. And well, subsequently our ability to memorize and recall begins to decrease.
You: So what are you suggesting?
Me: I’m suggesting that you go walk into a wall.
And 4 strategies for memory improvement.
1. Repetition – Just the other day an aunty asked me, ‘Hisham beta, please give me some tips to memorize the Quran.’ I thought about it for a second and I answered ‘Read the page you want to memorize one hundred times.’ She started laughing, then she stopped and then she said ‘Agar dekha jai, to baat tou sai hay.’
I wasn’t kidding.
Rule: The more times information is memorized, the more accurate the recall becomes and the less time it takes to re-learn.
2. Meaning – If I were to tell you to memorize Pi to the 100th digit or memorize 100 characters like this sentence, what would be easier? Obviously the sentence would be easier because it is holds some sort of meaning to you. You understand letters combined together to make words. Not just random words, but words combined meaningfully to form a sentence.
Rule: Information will be remembered better if it is meaningful.
Tip: If you are trying to memorize the Quran, try to also understand its meaning, it will definitely help.
3. Memory Cues – Yesterday, my friend and I went to a cafe called Gloria Jeans to discuss some ideas for this upcoming project. While he was talking I had this brilliant idea. When it was my turn to speak, my brain crashed and I forgot! So he started repeating different phrases that he was saying while he was talking to jog my memory and BAM, I remembered.
Rule: Recreating conditions in which material or information was learnt can act a trigger to recall from the memory.
4. Organization – These days I’m studying Tajweed, something I was previously very frightened of. I used to find it very confusing. The terminologies and concepts would go through one ear and come out the other, and most importantly what ever I learnt, I would forget. But things have changed. Apart from having excellent teachers, the way the subject is being presented to me now in an organized and structured way is what I find to be most helpful. Not only does this organization help me in remembering the concepts, but it also helps me to understand them.
Inshallah I plan to post about the subject of Tajweed soon as well.
Rule: Information is better remembered if it is presented in a structured way.
You: Cool stuff. I can’t wait for the Tajweed posts.
Me: Thanks yar. Let me know in the comments if you have any other techniques to improve memory recall.
And Allah (the all knowing) knows best.