You’ll Never Have A Strong Memory Until You Improve Your Attention. Here’s How….Aug 23, 2022
In the land of memory, attention is king.
And failing to pay attention will impair your memory, every time.
That’s because memory and attention cannot successfully operate without each other.
So, if you’ve ever thought to yourself:
I have problems with concentration and memory.
I need to re-read that page because I don't know what I just read.
My attention and memory problems seem to be related.
I’m scatter brained and I need help with remembering things.
You are correct. You’re also in the right place. One of the main causes for bad memory is poor attention.
In this article, we’ll explore:
How does attention affect memory?
How to improve focus and memory.
Why recognizing attention and memory problems can help you.
If you’re serious about regaining control of your focus and memory, then let’s get started right now. Increase your focus and memory to read this article by shutting off any distractions (see you later, Facebook!)
It's time to pay attention to your attention.
How does attention affect memory?
Repeat after me: I will never remember information that I never fully received in the first place.
There will be many times you forget information, not because you just can’t remember but because you never paid attention to the information you want to recall in the first place.
Let’s break down how the memory works for encoding information.
Encoding In Memory
Encoding is the first of three stages in the memory process. You may have heard it referred to as “working memory.” This is where your brain captures stimuli from the environment around you: the sights, the sounds, your emotions.
Your working memory has limited storage; therefore, your attention will determine what gets encoded.
You will not recall information captured unless you’ve actively paid attention to it, your brain will filter out the rest.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say you are making pancakes for breakfast, and you spill the batter all over the floor. Simultaneously, you may have music playing in the background (It’s a beautiful morning), kids running around, and the window open letting in a cool breeze.
Your brain is being presented with a lot of environmental stimuli. You might perceive the smell of the pancakes, the sound of the music, the cool breeze coming in all at one time. But later that day, you may only remember that you had a big mess to clean up.
Why? Because you attended to that mess. And the rest was irrelevant in that moment. You only encoded what you paid attention to.
In summary, your brain can only remember what you pay attention to.
How to improve focus and memory
Now that we know that attention is required to remember information, we can begin to control what competes for our attention.
Here are 6 strategies to help you improve focus and memory:
Control your environment
It might seem obvious, but if you want to improve your focus and memory, it’s essential to reduce the distractions that are within your control. Can you:
Turn off the music?
Disconnect from social media?
Silence your e-mails?
Remove items that are cluttering your area?
Can you relocate to a space that is calm and quiet?
All of these distractions are thieves of your attention that will, by extension, rob you of your memory.
Paying attention requires conscious effort which is not your brain’s default mode. By default, you will daydream or zone out, but you can’t create new memories while in wonderland. You must consciously turn your brain back on.
One way to do this is to avoid monotony. Routines are great, I love them myself! But actively breaking routines can also jumpstart your attention because you’re less likely to fall into autopilot mode.
Take a new route to work.
Enhance your attention by forcing yourself to notice 1-2 things along your drive. At the end of your drive try to recall those 1-2 things.
Describe your new route to a friend or co-worker.
When you zone out, you miss out on what you may need to recall.
Use the 5-4-3-2-1 Technique
You may have heard about the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique for reducing anxiety. This method works by increasing your conscious perception of your environment.
Try the technique with me. Look around your space:
What are 5 things you can see?
What are 4 things you can feel?
What are 3 things you can hear?
What are 2 things you can smell?
What is 1 thing you can taste?
This technique enables you to reconnect with your environment, which can help you increase your focus and memory.
Multi-tasking is a myth! While you may think you’re getting more accomplished, you’re really dividing your attention. Ultimately, splitting your attention will make tasks take longer. It will also compromise your effectiveness, your focus, and your memory. Whenever possible, strive to do one thing at a time.
The only exception to this rule is combining a physical task with a cognitive or memory activity. It's perfectly ok to vacuum while listening to a podcast, or to take a walk while chatting with a friend.
Physical movement is linked to improved focus and concentration. Even small amounts of movement get the blood flowing and can restore your focus and fuel creativity. It’s also a great way to break up with your routines (refer back to recommendation number 2 in this section.)
When it comes to improving your focus and memory, practice is key. Especially because as humans, our attention span is shrinking! According to this study from Microsoft, the human attention span is now only 8 seconds.
A quick recap...
Your active attention is required to support your memory.
Here are 6 ways to improve your attention:
Control your environment to limit distractions.
Concentrate without allowing yourself to go into autopilot.
Activate your perception. Use the 5-4-3-2-1 technique to get in touch with your senses.
Stop multi-tasking. Strive to do one thing at a time.
Exercise to fuel your focus. Your attention and alertness improve when you move your body.
Actively practice conscious attention so you can sharpen your memory and focus.
As a memory health coach, I’m glad you’re recognizing your attention and memory problems. Here’s why…
Just like failing to pay attention will impair your memory…
Failing to recognize a problem will compromise your ability to fix it.
The good news is you can take actions to regain control of your memory and attention, beginning today.
Need help? I help people, like you, get your memory back, strengthen it and keep it healthy for a lifetime. Click here to snag a spot on my schedule for your free introductory coaching call.
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