I am a list-maker. I also set alarms and, when they go off, I have to try to remember why I set them. I lose my keys, my phone, my iPod—I’m lucky I don’t lose the kids some days!

Who hasn’t struggled to remember the name of a business associate at a networking event,  a key point during a presentation or the date that big project is due?

Whatever the reason we experience a lapse in memory – chances are we could all use a few ways to help us improve it?

Here are just a few of the best exercises I’ve found to strengthen our ability to remember people, places, ideas – and everything in between:

  1. Use pictures – If you tend to forget names, tie a person’s name to a mental picture. If their name is a word or like a word, this is easy, but using rhymes or words that sound like the name also helps. The trick is the picture, not how you got there.
  2. Change fonts – If you’re trying to learn something from text on your computer screen, reading it in an unfamiliar font makes you concentrate on it more.
  3. Say it out loud – If you’re going to a business meeting where you know some of the people who will be there, say their names out loud to yourself before you go to put them in your short-term memory bank.
  4. Learn a new language – People who speak more than one language are more likely to have a good memory. If you already speak another language, translate what you’re trying to remember into it. It puts double connections down in your brain, while making you focus on the information.
  5. Interact, in-person or even online – Using language to communicate keeps your brain engaged, no matter the medium.
  6. Get some exercise – Exercise builds synapses and synapses are the connections your brain makes to create memories.
  7. Get more sleep – Getting enough sleep is essential for high functioning in many areas, but memory is certainly one of them.

Where was I? Oh, yes.

We all have good days and bad days for remembering things. If you want to have more good days, try some of these techniques and let us know if you see any difference!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative