Photographic memory (not to be confused with eidetic memory) is a superpower. But not everyone is blessed with it. Right now, the only thing we can do is try every method that will help us improve our memory and recall.
We might be blessed to be in the information age. But the firehose of bits and bytes is making us gasp for breath too. So here are five tools and apps that just might help you improve your short term and long term memory.
1. Sans Forgetica (Web): A Font for Your Study Notes
Cognitive scientists recommend that we should write our notes by hand for better recall. But thanks to the keyboard, writing isn’t our default anymore. So researchers from RMIT University went and did the second best thing. They developed a special font that makes your notes easier to remember.
Sans Forgetica is deliberately designed to be difficult to read. This ‘desirable difficulty’ forces the brain to pay more attention to the material and help it process the information in a more efficient way.
You can download and install Sans Forgetica as an OpenFont file. Also, there is a Chrome extension that converts any on-screen text to Sans Forgetica.
Download: Sans Forgetica for Chrome (Free)
2. Memorize By Heart (iOS): Learn Effective Memorization Techniques
School teaches us to memorize stuff by rote. That’s not the best way to learn, but it is effective when you have to give a speech, retell jokes, or practice for an exam where memorization is the only way through. The Memorize By Heart app follows a method that it hopes will work for you.
Recite your content into the app. The app then transcribes that into text. Then all you have to do is recite back to the app as it gives you feedback on how accurate your memorization is.
The app helps you test your memory by removing letters and words, mimicking the first letter of each word, or even by re-ordering the sequence of sentences. The feedback forces you to practice and get better. Use it for learning new languages; the app supports 142 languages.
Download: Memorize By Heart for iOS ($2.99)
3. Hibou (Chrome): Spaced Repetition in Your Browser
Hibou is a double package. It is a highlighter and a spaced repetition tool for anything you read with your browser. The Chrome extension helps you highlight anything you find interesting on the web. You can add a note to your highlight for more context. Any text you highlight enters the extension’s queue where it sits until its review time.
The power of spaced repetition takes over. Reminders pop up according to a well-established and scientific formula. Make this review a habit and you could learn and recall a lot of knowledge from the web.
Just note that Hibou saves a link, and clicking on it for the review takes you to the website which has that highlighted nugget.
Download: Hibou for Chrome (Free)
4. Peak (Android, iOS): Brain Training for Better Focus
Do brain training games really help? Scientists seem to be there on both sides of the fence. That hasn’t stopped innovative brain training games and apps from flooding the mobile screens. Peak is one of the most popular games. Among the many exercises on the app is one that was developed by the University of Cambridge.
Decoder will help you test your attention and concentration powers. It was a separate app at first but now is licensed to Peak and is part of the app’s Pro plan. The team behind the app claims that it is based on scientific tests across the course of a month. You can read the scientific study done by the Department of Clinical Neurosciences.
Using Decoder as a fun mental exercise could help you avoid multi-tasking lapses and improve your flow state. These two qualities are essential for better memory function. The exercises are part of the Peak iOS app and will arrive in Android soon.
Download: Peak for iOS (Free, in-app purchases)
5. Revere App (iOS): Never Forget People You Meet
One of the most common embarrassments is forgetting someone’s name or where you met. In the hyper-networked world of today, it can stop you from nurturing warm relationships. This anti-forgetfulness app is like a journal that hopes to avoid that mess.
You can use Revere to take notes on people you meet and keep a record of all the important details. Also, Revere uses reminders to make sure you follow up to say hello or wish them on their special days. It is a flexible note-taking tool to help you reach out and never forget the little things that make relationships tick.
Revere supports the Apple Watch and it also gives you a Chrome browser extension to work from the browser.
Looking for a free alternative? Try the Garden app that also works with regular reminders to stay in touch with your friends and family.
Download: Revere for iOS ($4.99)
Download: Garden for iOS (Free)
Good Habits Are Important for Memory Too
A stressed or tired brain hits your ability to focus, so you cannot learn efficiently. The quantity and quality of sleep allow the brain to cement whatever it has learned that day. Exercise, of course, changes the health of brain cells for better. Just goes to show that you can improve your memory and recall with old-fashioned habits too.
There is another way to boost your memory. Train yourself with the best learning techniques and they will propel you along for the rest of your life.
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