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Mentalrobics™

You exercise your body to stay physically in shape, so why shouldn't you exercise your brain to stay mentally fit? With these daily exercises you will learn how to flex your mind, improve your creativity and boost your memory. As with any exercise, repetition is necessary for you to see improvement, so pick your favorite exercises from our daily suggestions and repeat them as desired. Try to do some mentalrobics every single day!

External aids are things like notebooks, PDAs, lists, alarms and strings around your finger. Some external aids (like notebooks) are intended to remind you of what to remember. These are very effective because your notebook cannot forget. As long as you remember where your notebook is kept, you will always have a backup of information contained in it to refresh your unreliable memory. These types of external aids are particularly useful when you are very busy, easily distracted or don't have time to properly learn the material. In these situations, an external aid acts like temporary storage until you can get the information into your head.

External aids can take other useful forms. For example, you may place the movie rental near the door as a reminder to return it to the store. If you think of something as you are falling asleep, you can put something out of place to remember it in the morning. You can tie a string around your finger to remind you to do something. These types of aids only remind you that there is something to remember. Usually, this is enough to jog your memory. If you can't remember why a string is around your finger, then you might need to use the first type of external aid.

If having a string around your finger is too annoying, you can try putting other things out of place. You could put a rubber band around your wrist, move a ring to a different finger, put your watch on the other wrist, put your wallet in a different pocket, etc. You can even use multiple simultaneous aids to remember multiple things. For example, your wallet in the wrong pocket could be a reminder to go to the bank and a ring on the wrong finger could be a reminder to pay your bills.

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The link method is a simple way to remember a list of items in order.

Suppose you have to do a few chores such as drop off the kids at school, go to the bank, and then do some grocery shopping. Try linking these items together in a little story: "I'm going to drop the kids off at the bank because they can crawl through the slot in the teller window and pick out the groceries from inside the vault."
The more unusual the story, the more likely you are to remember it!

With practice, it's possible to quickly remember at least a dozen items using this method, and it also gives you a chance to stretch your creativity by thinking up crazy stories.

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Setup a chessboard in your workplace or home. Anyone should be encouraged to come up to the board, weigh the possibilities and make a move for either side. This is an ongoing game that will last for several days. Since anyone can play for either side, there are no winners or losers. In reality, everyone is a winner because this game introduces some novelty into the players' day and gives them a chance to exercise a different part of their brains. Often a workday can be filled with drudgery. This is a good way to liven it up a little.

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Social interaction is important for making and maintaining good memories. Meals have always been a time when people get together to eat and enjoy each other's company. If you notice that you are often eating alone, try to change that habit.

Make it a policy in your home that meals are a social event. Remove the newspaper, turn off the television and give your family your undivided attention. If you live alone, invite a friend or neighbor over for dinner. Not only does this introduce some novelty into your day, but it also strengthens your relationships.

If you are at work, try to arrange a group lunch with coworkers or friends who work nearby. Eating lunch with coworkers in different departments is a great way to learn something new.

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Over-learning is a simple technique that helps you improve your memory. Over-learning is the repetitive study of something until it becomes second nature. Even after you think you have learned something, if you continue to study it, you reinforce it in your memory. This practice not only strengthens learning, but it also improves recall speed.

Over-learning is the idea behind flashcards, but it can be useful for more things than just your math quiz. Try something as simple as a list of items on a piece of paper that you carry with you. Read through the list several times a day while waiting for the elevator, at a stoplight, in line at a store, before going to sleep, etc. You will learn these items better and recall them more quickly.

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