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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 mnemonics rely on making visual associations in your mind. The nature of these visualizations has a lot to do with how well you will remember them.

Making crazy associations in your visualizations will help you remember the information later. If you are trying to associate a dog with a stapler, a poor association would be a dog standing on a stapler. The brain filters out and forgets things that are ordinary. If you get a little crazy, you'll have a more memorable association. Maybe you could picture a dog with a stapler for a mouth! In addition to making the images more interesting, crazy associations tend to take more time to form and thus give you a better chance at getting them into your long-term memory.

Here are two techniques that will help make your associations crazier.

1. Try a substitution. For example, substituting a stapler for a dog's mouth.
2. Try an exaggeration. For example, a giant stapler chasing a scared dog down the street.

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Many mnemonics rely on making visual associations in your mind. The way you create these visualizations will have a lot to do with how well you will remember the information.

The items that you are associating together should be visualized as interacting in some way. If you are trying to associate a stapler with a dog, it is not going to do you much good to picture a dog standing next to a stapler. A much better association would be to have the dog eating the stapler, or picture a dog with a stapler mouth. Not only does this interaction make the image more interesting, but by grouping both objects into one association, you are effectively chunking the material.

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Mnemonic systems such as Link or Loci help us remember information for a variety of reasons.

1. They make the material more meaningful by adding associations and creating patterns. In fact, mnemonics work better for material that is less meaningful.

2. They help organize the information so that you can more easily retrieve it later. By giving you associations and cues, mnemonics allow you to cross-reference the information in different parts of your memory. This mental structure is very useful for material that has very little inherent organization.

3. Mnemonics typically involve visualizations that help make the facts more vivid. This is especially helpful for people who are visual learners. Additionally, these visualizations help focus your attention on the material by making the learning more fun.

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Earlier, we discussed the Link System for remembering lists. Let's practice! We have provided a list of objects to memorize and some example links for you to use if you want. You will have better success if you make up your own links. Spend at least 2 minutes visualizing these objects and links and you should have no problem remembering them.

Cheese, Giraffe, Batteries, Water, Space Shuttle, Rose, Tire, Saw, Grass, Moon

Example links:
A giraffe eating a big cheese wheel.
Putting new batteries into your robotic giraffe.
Batteries getting shorted out and sparking when put in water.
A space shuttle flying underwater.
A miniature space shuttle buzzing around a rose.
A huge tire rolling down a hill and squashing a rose.
A tire with saw blades sticking out dangerously.
Using a saw to cut your grass.
Looking at a moon in a telescope and seeing it covered in grass.

After you have visualized your links, close your eyes and try to recall the entire list. See how easy it was? To prove the effectiveness of this technique, make up a different list and try to memorize it without using the Link System or any other mnemonic.

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Good sleep is extremely important if you want to have a strong memory, because it is during sleep that memory consolidation occurs. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your sleep.

1. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day (including the weekends). Having a consistent schedule will keep your internal clock in sync and will make it easier to fall asleep at the proper time each night.

2. Refrain from doing any physical exercise shortly before bed time. All that energy can make it difficult to fall asleep on time.

3. If you are sleeping in a noisy place, try to mask the bad noises by using mellow music, a white-noise machine, or even a fan with a constant hum.

4. Avoid caffeine and alcohol prior to bedtime. Caffeine is a stimulant and can keep you awake. Alcohol can interfere with your brain chemistry and prevent you from entering the most restful stage of sleep called REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep.

5. Avoid taking naps during the day, or at least limit them to 30 minutes or less. Napping can make it difficult for you to fall asleep at the proper time because you wont be tired yet.

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