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Can you draw the Apple logo from memory?

Are you sure? Try it right now. The answer may surprise you.

Only 1 out of 85 participants got it right in this interesting study on human memory.  Even though most of see the Apple logo nearly every day, our memories just don’t store all the little details. It just goes to show that we know little about our own brains. We trust ourselves, even when the evidence says we shouldn’t. Forgetfulness is a human characteristic, but it’s hard to appreciate just how much we lose every day.

But back to you:

  • How many books and articles do you read every year? Every day?
  • How much of that information do you retain?

If you are reading this now, you will forget 80% of it within a month. Without going into the complexities  of memory, let’s just say that your memory is a hostile place to information that doesn’t get repeated and rehearsed. That’s bad news for the tremendous amount of wisdom we read every day. Or that great tip we want to apply when the time is right.

Forgetfulness

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The good news is that forgetfulness can be beaten. Memory researchers say that spaced practice can lead to better learning. In the book Make It Stick, psychologist Henry L. Roediger III says,

“The increased effort required to retrieve the learning after a little forgetting has the effect of retriggering consolidation, further strengthening memory.”

The book also notes that a little forgetting can be a good thing. You can re-study while combining the practice of one skill or topic with another. This is the same principle which goes into active recall memory Memorize Anything Using Active Recall Memory Memorize Anything Using Active Recall Memory Your memory sucks, but it's nothing you can't improve. Whether you're trying to learn a language, geography or even basic programming skills, active recall learning lets you commit details to memory. Read More and the use of flashcards for spaced practice.

Their advice is for better study skills, but many of these tools are applicable to all types of knowledge we don’t want to forget. Here are a few tools which can help you win the memory game and keep advice for longer.

Mindmory (iOS, Free)

Remember All Life Tips

Remember life rules with do’s and don’ts.

You should like Mindmory for its sheer simplicity. This new app is designed to be a mind dump of all the good life tips you read about. Capture all the personal growth rules you want in Do’s and Don’ts.

For e.g. all actionable ideas can be divided into Do’s and Don’ts list. Steve Jobs’ famous “Don’t be afraid of dogma” is a Don’t. So also will be his other famous one – “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice”. While a Do list could have his inspiring “Stay hungry, stay foolish” message. All life tips can be organized into categories.

Mindmory uses spaced repetition to display the actionable ideas (Do’s and Don’ts) on your homescreen.

Populating your mind with inspiring  rules of life is just one part. Mindmory uses darker shades of green / red to display the strength of those ideas in your daily life. Let’s say, a consistent mistake is bugging your productivity. Prioritize the actionable idea to solve it with the visual ranking so the spaced notifications can help you actively recall the solution you have set for it.

Mindmory also has a Grey Matters view. This is the place for all non-actionable ideas you want to keep around. The app also helps you load fresh ideas with some pre-made ones available on it.

Download: Mindmory (iOS)

MemoButton

Remember what you discover on the web.

Exercise your active memory.

This is a spaced repetition tool in your browser packaged as a Chrome extension. Add anything you want to remember to a Quiz Card. MemoButton uses spaced repetition to quiz you at regular intervals so that you remember better. MemoButton is useful for learning a new language, remembering keyboard shortcuts Windows Shortcuts 101 - The Ultimate Keyboard Shortcut Guide Windows Shortcuts 101 - The Ultimate Keyboard Shortcut Guide With so many shortcuts built into Windows and its software, it might seem impossible to learn them all. Here's the ultimate guide to the most useful keyboard shortcuts. Read More , or simply for recalling ideas from the web.

Stats on the account page gives you more insights. Organize all your quiz cards from your account page. You can separate them into “easiest” and “hardest”. The hardest to remember facts can be made easier with extra facts, context, or mnemonics. The developers say that you will get a fresh perspective every time an idea repeats itself. One day, it just might click enough and help you develop an idea of your own.

Paul Graham, the Founder of the business accelerator Y-Combinator wrote an essay on How to get startup ideas. This example shows you how to use MemoButton and focus on the best ideas.

FlashTabs is another well-designed spaced repetition extension. It’s a promising Chrome extension 10 Must-Have Chrome Extensions For 2015 10 Must-Have Chrome Extensions For 2015 It's the third month of the year and some new Chrome extensions have floated towards our attention. Which are the ones you will keep? Read More you can use to start improving your memory this year.

Clippings.io

Save your Kindle notes

Highlight the best from the ebooks you read.

Now, let’s tackle the knowledge in the books we read. If it’s a physical book then Maria Popova’s suggestion to create an idea index is priceless. If it’s an ebook on your Kindle, Clippings.io might have an answer.

The web app gives you all the features to manage highlights on your Kindle How To Manage Book Annotations While Reading On The Kindle How To Manage Book Annotations While Reading On The Kindle Read More ebook. You can go to your Amazon Kindle Highlights page too, but Clippings.io does it more elegantly. You can edit, search, tag and annotate your clippings. Organize the books read and the annotations made into collections. Go back and re-read the exact passages from a particular book. Search through your book notes by book title, author, content, and type. Clippings also allows you to export your clippings to beautifully formatted Word, Excel and PDF documents.

But most of all – you can push all the clippings to Evernote. A notebook is created for each book. Each annotation gets a note in specific notebooks. This should help you to use the space to pad it up context, links, and visual aids.

This Evernote integration helps the next Evernote add-on come to the fore for our review and recall needs.

Reflect

Review your Evernote notes.

Review with flashcards on Evernote.

Author and media strategist, Ryan Holiday gives a beautiful example of a commonplace book to store all that he reads. He uses systematic “notecards” to remember what he reads. Evernote can do the same role for those who are digitally inclined. Reflect is one reason to go digital.

Reflect helps you memorize and reflect on your notes, with scheduled flashcard reviews of what you’ve saved in Evernote. Reflect works on every device, so you can use it on the go or when there’s some downtime at the supermarket queue.

Bakari shows you how to set up automated note reviews with Reflect and Evernote Make The Best Use of Evernote with Automated Note Reviews Make The Best Use of Evernote with Automated Note Reviews Evernote is useful as a brain dump. But it doesn't have a useful process for reviewing your content, which means lots of valuable information can be forgotten. Now, there's a solution. Read More . You can specify the particular notebook or notebook stack to review and also filter it with tags. For instance, a notebook with all the life hack tips and ideas. Pay close attention to the schedule as this is where the spaced repetition kicks in. With flashcards you can navigate through the cards more deliberately and quickly.

Android users? Take a look at Revunote which can also plug into Evernote and help you review your notes.

How Do You Slow the Speed of Your Forgetfulness?

When you think back, a little tip goes a long way to help improve our lives. This article came about through a wall of writers block and the Rule of 52 and 17 tip I remembered from The Daily Muse. The idea also came from my own forgetfulness which outpaces my reading.

Regular reviews of valuable tips helps keep them fresh. Going back to old material also helps us think about it differently from the time we first read it. That might just open up new awareness. So, don’t let forgetfulness be the pirate of your thoughts.

What is your method of collecting the best tips you find on the web? Which is the specific tool you use to collate and review your notes? Don’t forget to add your tips in the comments.

Image Credit: Frankly, I don’t remember; Brain Aging (All Shutterstock)

  1. bigbrandjohn
    August 1, 2016 at 2:42 am

    Life hacking not progressing we'll tonight. Mind mory is not free abd Reflect won't let me register my time zone. Also has a number of negative comments which doesn't surprise me.

    • Saikat Basu
      August 1, 2016 at 8:21 am

      Things change in one year. Mindmory was free for a long time, but I the developments (and downloads) took it towards the paid zone.

  2. Kelemen-Virag, Zoltan
    April 15, 2015 at 6:31 am

    I only use a few software, otherwise could not remember what is where:

    - Procedural: mind map (accounting methodes and rules, organizing the workplace, state and official procedures, etc.)

    - texts, personal data (tax and social security numbers of the Family members, etc,): OneNote

    - learneable pieces: Anki - as there is nothing better: better scaleable, better configurable, better paced, easier to handle, and better way to sharing what one learns.

    • Saikat
      April 15, 2015 at 10:01 am

      Hi Kelemen,

      Very succinctly said. The procedural flow is something I am looking at now. Not with mindmaps but with -- Checklists :)

  3. Stela
    April 14, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    I use Google Keep to write quick notes on my Android device but its Pinterest I find indispensable for pinning interesting articles, hints, tips and photos.

  4. John Williams
    April 14, 2015 at 12:33 am

    This is why the mind throws out crap like the Apple logo - to make space for the useful stuff. Google images will show me any logo as fast as I can type it.
    I find the only stuff I truly remember is the research I've compiled to help write and support my own work. Only when you have read, edited, proof read does anything really stick in the mind.

    • Saikat
      April 14, 2015 at 5:09 am

      The Apple logo was just an example. It's a stand-in for the common things we see every day, but do not observe. Thus, we do not remember. Yes, I agree with you on that last bit -- it's only when we engage with the material beyond mere reading, we remember it. That has been the theme of my own struggle -- how do I use technology to remember all the important stuff I read daily :)

  5. Rob
    April 10, 2015 at 9:55 am

    Thanks so much for the introduction to Reflect!! I've been trying to figure out how to do this with Evernote for a while now- definitely something I'll be setting up over the weekend!

    • Saikat
      April 10, 2015 at 1:18 pm

      You are welcome Rob. We need tools like these to have a more dynamic relationship with our notes :)

  6. dragonmouth
    April 9, 2015 at 10:46 pm

    For the past 40 years or so I've been very diligent about collecting and organizing tips that I see in papers and magazines, always intending to go back and re-read them. A few months ago I realized that I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I went back to those clippings. So I have been purging all those lovingly collected paper scraps. If I need any tips, advice or hints, I can always look them up online.

    I have also been storing interesting articles I read online. However, that is a futile effort. The problem is not in finding applications that would help me organize all those articles, the problem is that there are so many new articles being written everyday that I'll never go back to the saved ones.

    The apps that you write about are probably great at organizing stuff but the question is will we ever go back to the saved stuff. The problem is not forgetfulness, the problem is information overload.

    • Saikat
      April 10, 2015 at 3:00 am

      What you are saying is absolutely correct. Remember the study that said Google is making us stupid? It is "destroying" our memories too.

      I think one of the methods is to actually use a spaced repetition system to remember the key knowledge and find ways to apply them at least once. As a writer, I have the luxury of doing that through words if not anything else.

      Reviewing what we have saved is another digital habit that's necessary today. Otherwise, reading all the stuff we do daily feels kind of futile. I try to be as selective with what I save as possible...else it is again information overload (as you say).

    • Gavin
      April 10, 2015 at 7:31 am

      This applies to the working world as well. People don't need to know how to do certain things (eg change a spark plug - auto repair) or remember certain properties of something (eg. boiling point of an element - in chemistry) as they can quickly look it up on their smartphone. These examples are off the top of my head as I neither do auto repair or chemistry. Of course it better to remember these things for efficiency / productivity, but in most fields of work people can't remember everything.

    • Louis
      April 10, 2015 at 1:02 pm

      Ultimately, your time is the most precious commodity. These tools exist to help you better utilize your time (organize things you've spent time to read/learn so you've not wasted that time reading) and allocate your future time (if you remember certain things, you can apply it in real time and don't need to whip out your phone, google something, browse through the links, etc). Information overload is only a problem if you allow it to be.

    • Saikat
      April 10, 2015 at 1:17 pm

      True. We can always look things up. But imagine the knowledge of all the books and articles you read every year that just vaporizes! Sometimes little life lessons are just right for the right moments.

      Take any hobby (photography for instance). It's the little tips and ideas that can make one good at it. You might not always find it when you go searching for it. So, I save all the little tips on Evernote.

    • Saikat
      April 10, 2015 at 1:42 pm

      Louis...

      Information overload isn't going to go away. The data smog that it is, is also because of all the extra junk we process. Remembering the essential things is just one strategy to look through that smog.

    • dragonmouth
      April 10, 2015 at 6:28 pm

      @Louis:
      "Information overload is only a problem if you allow it to be."
      I beg to differ. The amount of information available to us is growing geometrically, if not exponentially. Even if you want to filter the information to only what you are interested in, you have to review more of it.

  7. WinDork
    April 9, 2015 at 9:31 pm

    Tools I use to remember things --

    On the web, http://www.pearltrees.com/, drive.google.com/ and keep.google.com/ (Keep is also a Win8.1 and Android app).

    In my browser, the Send to Kindle extension.

    On my Win8.1 computer, the OneDrive app and the Sticky Notes and Snipping Tool utilities.

    On my WP8.1 smartphone, the Recorder Pro app, the Sticky Notes HD app, the OneDrive app and the native Camera app.

    I use the Snipping Tool utility to capture information I want to remember, then save it to a folder I created in my OneDrive. This not only provides a flashcard effect, but I also have access to the information from anywhere (and on my smartphone).

    I use all these methods all the time and refer to the information I've collected as often as necessary.

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