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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!

Many students study in bed before going to sleep. They may also study in bed at other times because it is a comfortable place. This should be avoided because it can interfere with good sleep. If you study in bed, then studying will become associated with your bed, and whenever you get into bed your mind will think about studying. An active mind can cause difficulty in falling to sleep, and sleep is very important, especially for students who rarely get an adequate amount of it. Additionally, there is not enough time for material that is learned immediately before going to sleep to sink into our minds; it is often forgotten by the time we wake up.

Another possibility is that sleep might become associated with studying. If this happens, whenever you sat down to study, regardless of the time or place, your mind will start to get sleepy. Obviously, this would limit the effectiveness of your studying!

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If you find that you cannot remember the answer to a question that you know you studied, try to imagine the place where you learned it. If you studied the material in the library, imagine the library. Try to recreate the entire context of where and how you learned the material: visualize the book, even the page where you found the material. Were there any diagrams on that page? What time of day were you studying the material?

Since the mind connects information in all sorts of ways, the contextual cues will give you a better chance at recalling what you learned.

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One reason that we may forget a certain fact is because we never really learned it in the first place. This has a lot to do with attention. When your spouse or parent tells you something while you are watching TV, your attention is diverted so you will not acquire the new information. If you want to remember something, you must pay attention to it. A person can only pay attention to one thing at a time; therefore, watching TV or talking on the phone while you do your homework will not achieve optimum results as your attention will constantly be shifting back and forth.

Studies have shown that paying attention to a task is much more important than the time spent on the task. A person who concentrates completely on a task for 15 minutes may remember more than someone who studies it for an hour with the TV going in the background.

To prove that you must pay attention to something to remember it, answer these four simple questions:

1. Which way does Lincoln face on the penny?
2. On a traffic light, is red on the top or bottom?
3. Does water go clockwise or counterclockwise down the drain?
4. How many freckles are on the back of your hand?

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One way to remember a date is to consciously link it to a date or fact that you already know. For example, you could remember someone's birthday by remembering that it is exactly two months and two days after your birthday. There are many dates (birthdays, holidays, anniversaries) that you already know, and it is very easy to link new dates to these using simple mathematics. The linking method works for two reasons. First, it associates a date with another date that you will never forget (for example, your own birthday!). Second, simply figuring out the association will keep you thinking about the date long enough for it to get into your long term memory.

You can also link dates to important facts. For example, if your sports buddy has a birthday on April 9th, you could remember that April 9 is 4/9 which is the 49ers -- San Francisco's football team.

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People are much better at remembering meaningful facts than random facts. This is because the mind takes advantage of all the pre-existing synapses that are already built up in the brain. If you are ever required to memorize facts for a test or meeting, you can improve your ability to remember the facts by organizing the data.

You could organize the material by category, alphabetically, chronologically, or by any other method that will help you group facts and give them some extra meaning. If you can, try to organize the material in several different ways. This will give your mind extra ways to retrieve the facts at a later time. For example, if you learn the names of the presidents of the United States in alphabetical and chronological order, you will have a much better chance at remembering them than if you learned them without any organization whatsoever.

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