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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!

It is very common to get distracted or for our minds to wander when we are reading. Once we've notice that we've read several sentences without comprehension, we rewind and start reading the passage again. If the material is particularly boring or we are not in the right mood, we can often end up rereading the same sentence over and over without knowing what it says.

This can be fixed by improving your concentration and attention. Try the following exercise. Every time you get distracted while reading, draw an arrow in the margin from where you realized you were daydreaming, to where you started rereading. Before you turn the page, count your arrows and mentally review what you have just read. If you can't remember what you read, start over. You should find that the number of arrows per page decreases as you get better at focusing your attention.

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Some external aids only exist to remind you that there is something to remember. They don't actually tell you what it is. If you forget why you have a string around your finger, then it's not doing you much good. To fix this problem, you can use visual imagery to associate the aid with what you are trying to remember.

For example, if you need to remember to get gas on the drive home from work, you could put your watch on the wrong wrist. Then visualize yourself stuffing watches into your car's gas tank, or something else equally silly and memorable. Now every time you notice your watch being out of place, you will remember the silly scene and that you need to get gas.

One aid can even be used to remember multiple things. Simply use the link method to chain everything together, starting with the physical reminder. If you need to remember to get gas and pick up some bread and milk, you could use the above association to link your watch to gas. Then visualize yourself driving a loaf of bread away from the gas station while all of the sudden it starts raining milk.

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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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