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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!

People of nearly any age can learn and benefit from mnemonic techniques such as the Link and Loci systems.

Children as young as five can use these techniques effectively to learn material appropriate for their age group. Additionally, mnemonics have been shown to help elderly people with declining memory faculties.

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The phrase "A picture is worth a thousand words" means that you can describe something by producing a picture just as well as by using a bunch of words. A single picture is able to convey a wealth of information.

There is some research evidence that visual images are remembered differently than verbal material in the mind. For example, it is much quicker to read the word "shoe" off a page than it is to look at a picture of one and say the word "shoe." Also, in many research tests, the mind has been shown to have a much larger memory for pictures than words. In other words, if you are shown 20 pictures and 20 words, you are much more likely to remember the pictures.

This fact is an important reason why many mnemonics rely on making mental visualizations. Since images are easier to recall, using a visualization of a word will help you remember it better. Additionally, visualizing a word will encode it into your visual memory as well as your verbal memory, which doubles your chances of keeping it in your brain.

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When people get overwhelmed with tasks, a common problem is that the mind gets paralyzed because it can't decide what to do first. Often, the mind jumps from task to task to task without making much progress with anything. This can lead to a cycle of ever increasing stress about the growing list of things to do.

A simple strategy is to do all the little things first. Find all the tasks that can be completed in only a few minutes and do them in sequence without letting your attention get diverted. Once you have weeded out all the easy stuff your mind will feel less cluttered and it will be easier to concentrate on the bigger tasks

This strategy is even more useful when you apply it to your daily life because it can prevent you from getting into a cluttered mindset in the first place. As a benefit, you will also have fewer problems with forgetting to do something because you do it right away. Anytime you have a short task presented to you, instead of putting it off, just do it and get it over with. One example of how to do this is with email. Whenever you get an email that you need to reply to, just reply to it right then and there. Leaving it in your inbox for later just leads to an overwhelmingly full inbox.

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If you are reading this, then you know all the letters of the alphabet. You've probably been reading and writing with letters for many years. So, it should be a trivial exercise for you to recite the alphabet. Now try it backwards.

The reason this is so much harder is because you memorized the alphabet using serial-learning. In other words, each letter is a cue for the next letter. This little exercise will teach you how to recite the alphabet backwards. Learn this and impress your friends.

To do this, you should be familiar with the Peg Mnemonic System and in particular, the Alphabet Pegwords which will be reproduced below. Now, start with the word for the last letter in the alphabet, "zucchini," and associate it with the letter before it - "yo-yo." Perhaps you will imagine a zucchini on the end of a string. Then associate "yo-yo" with "x-ray." Once you have made all 25 associations, you should be able to quickly recite the alphabet backwards by recalling each association in order.

Apple
Boy
Cat
Dog
Egg
Foot
Goat
Hat
Ice
Juice
Kite
Log
Monkey
Nut
Owl
Pig
Quilt
Rock
Sock
Tie
Umbrella
Vampire
Wig
X-ray
Yo-yo
Zucchini

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Previously, we have discussed several different mnemonics (Link, Loci, Peg) that rely on your ability to visualize an association between two different items. These visualizations are easy to produce when the items to remember are concrete nouns such as frog, rose, or moon, but they become more difficult when you need to memorize abstract words such as wealthy, tired, or attention. Try one of these three techniques to make effective visualizations from abstract words.

Visualize something related to the word
If you need to memorize the word "wealthy," you might visualize a bag of money or a pile of gold coins. To memorize "Abraham Lincoln," you could visualize a stovetop hat.

Visualize a cause or effect of the word
To memorize the word "tired," you could imagine a bed with fluffy pillows. For the abstract word "strong," you could visualize some barbell weights.

Visualize something that sounds like the word
For the word "look," you could use the rhyming word "book" instead. For the word "attention," you could use "a tent + nun."

Once you have created a concrete image from an abstract word, you can then use the other methods to remember this image.

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