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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!

The average person's short-term memory can only hold 7 pieces of information for about 30 seconds. If you want to get something into your long-term memory, you're going to need to remember it for at least 30 seconds.

This is probably why it's easy to forget someone's name moments after hearing it. The name only sticks in your brain for 30 seconds, and unless you do something to push it into your long-term memory, you are going to forget it.

To get more than 7 items at a time into your long-term memory, you can try the Chunking Technique we discussed yesterday. Repetition can also help.

But remember, having a limited short-term memory is a good thing! Imagine how cluttered your mind would be if you remembered every single thing that went into it.

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Did you ever wonder why phone numbers and credit card numbers are separated into little groups of numbers? It's to help you remember them!

Chunking is the technique of taking smaller objects and grouping them into larger objects so they can be more easily remembered. It's much easier to remember 65-74-81-32 than it is to remember 65748132.

Try remembering the letters TRTESEL. Now try remembering the same letters in this order: LETTERS. Because your brain is remembering a word instead of 7 random letters, it doesn't have to work as hard. Essentially, you have compressed more information into a single chunk.

The next time you are trying to remember a list of small items, try chunking them together so you can fit more information into your short term memory.

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There are two types of Absentmindedness.

1. Forgetting something that you did. "Where did I put my keys?"
2. Forgetting whether you did something at all. "Did I return the book to the library?"

If you find that you frequently forget something that you did (like where you put your keys), you could try to build a habit around that activity. For example you could install a hook or place a dish near the door where you always put your keys. If you get into the habit of doing this then you will always know where your keys are.

If you often forget whether you did something, you should pay more attention to yourself as you do certain activities. One way to do this is to speak your actions out loud: "I am returning the book to the library." Another way is to look around and notice something that you never noticed before. Maybe there is a pretty flower next to the library return slot, or maybe the handle has a rust spot on it. Noticing something about the activity will give your mind something to remember.

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Do you ever remember something that you need to do right as you're about to fall asleep? After that, you can't fall asleep anymore because you are too worried that you'll forget it in the morning.

An easy way to solve this problem would be to have a pencil and paper next to your bed with a little flashlight. But if you don't have this handy, try putting something out of place. For example, throw a magazine or wadded tissue at the door. When you wake up in the morning, you'll notice the out-of-place item and be reminded of what you almost forgot.

You can use this technique for other situations besides falling asleep at night. For example, if you are in the car and need to remember something but can't write it down, open the glove box or ashtray and leave it open. When you park, it will be a reminder.

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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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