How to use mnemonics to improve your memory at work

How to use mnemonics to improve your memory at work

You forgot the sales person’s name again! And you can’t seem to master the art of certain office procedures. Why do you keep forgetting? Because you haven’t yet transformed these pieces of information into chunks of digestible data. And you haven’t made personal or dynamic connections. For data to be stored in long-term memory reserves, mnemonic devices should be employed. This way you avoid making mistakes or wasting time searching for information. Mnemonics are a secret weapon of successful people.

What are mnemonic devices?

To retrieve information, first a system has to be put in place. Mnemonic devices incorporate an efficient system to memorize pieces of data based on letters and sounds. It is one of the most efficient ways to learn because the method is simple to apply. Chunking, like in phone numbers, and rhyming, as in song, are perfect examples of mnemonics.

Through word association and sound systems like rhyming, chief information is stored quicker, easier, and for longer periods of time.

How to use mnemonics

Let’s say you forget a client’s name. No matter how hard you’ve tried, the name just doesn’t stick with you. By employing mnemonics, your faulty memory and inability to recall people’s names, will disappear.

  1. Use alliteration

    First, you do need to have their name handy. Let’s call her Sandra. How could you describe Sandra’s appearance or character using an /S/ word? Let’s say she’s stylish and sincere, maybe even sophisticated. You can use those words to cue name recollection. With an /S/ word, you will be able to hone in on the fact that her name begins with the letter /S/. This will narrow things down. Now you’ve only got to focus on women’s names that begin with /S/ rather than the entire alphabet. Over time, when you keep applying this technique, it will become more organic and even intuitive.

  2. Make a unique link

    Second, instead of choosing basic descriptors, you might want to select an /S/ word that’s a bit more specific or even extraordinary. Let’s say Sandra is from Spain or Slovakia or Senegal. Let’s say she’s a singer in her spare time. Let’s say you know she’s into skydiving, sewing, or sloths. Maybe she looks like a swan, or is motionless or serious like a statue. Identify a trait very unique to Sandra that gives her more personality or a particular flair. Studies have shown, the more bizarre the connection or image, the more likely you are to recall the information.

How to make mnemonics work for you

Mnemonics can be used in a variety of ways.

  1. The rule of spaced repetition

    Initially, mnemonic devices will not come second nature. You will have to train yourself. Consistency is essential and will pay off in time. Repetition is key, therefore, start small, but be vigilant and practice daily, like over tea or coffee. But repetition is just one part of the memory task. Making room between learning and recalling is necessary.

    Allowing time between learning and storage is an essential proven technique called spaced repetition. Say you want to memorize a formal set process for work such as how to complete an order, deal with a customer complaint, or safety procedures. Break the process into small pieces, or chunks, like you would do with a phone number. Then repeat the steps to yourself out loud or write them down on a piece of paper. Repeat this pattern for a week or two. Give yourself a break. Then recall the process.

  2. Acronyms as mnemonic devices

    Acronyms and abbreviations have been around for a long time and with good reason. They really do help us remember names and purpose. Like B2B and SEO, there are a whole slew of office-geared acronyms that are useful to know.

    Make a list of some acronyms that are related to your field or job title, or go for a particular theme for the month. If you work in logistics, accounting, or HR there are plenty of acronyms to master. Keep it close to your desk for easy access and recall. Turn strengthening your memory muscles into a game you can play with colleagues.

    OHIO, (only handle it once), is a excellent technique for increasing productivity at work, like emails and letters that should be opened and addressed only once. And FIOSP , (facts, issues, objectives, strategy, plan) or IDEAL (identify, define, explore, action, lookback) are two methods that create a process for troubleshooting in the workplace. DREAM, (dedication, responsibility , education, attitude, motivation), increases our abilities at the office. LEAR (listen, empathy, ask, resolve),  suits customer service issues. Memorize these acronyms to boost memory, but also productivity and you really start winning at work like never before.

    Why are these important? They bridge letters with their meaning which gives you a better understanding overall. Plus, it’s a great way to foster daily brain exercises that increase neuroplasticity. Building memory is a skill often overlooked, but it can make the difference between your quality of work and your competitors.

  3. Rhyme as a mnemonic technique

    One that you might already employ is rhyme. It’s a common technique used in early childhood learning and songs. And we can surely use this method well into adulthood for building memory links.

  4. Get creative

    As previously mentioned, the more bizarre the image, the more likely you are to recall information. Let’s say you keep forgetting Colombia’s export product. It’s coffee, so you have the letter /C/, but you can also take that one step further. Imagine a dancing coffee bean holding a Colombian flag on top of the country of Colombia. The more details, the better. And the more unusual the image is, the greater your chances will be to memorize the information.

Don’t stop at mnemonic devices, either, there are a variety of methods to employ, so have fun building your memory today.


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