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Fix your memory! Write it down or lose it.

Just a coder and a dad. I love my family and I love to code!!!! started coding at 11, so I have 25 years under my belt. Still love learning about it every day. Black lives matter!
・2 min read

How many times have you said "I should know this!", or "I thought I learned this already.". Maybe you think you have a bad memory, like I've told myself a hundred times.

I've watched easily over a hundred hours of video on the Egyptians, so you would think I would know a lot about them. If you asked me a simple question on them, I couldn't answer it.

Or the fact that I've watched hundreds of hours of study material but half the time I have to go back and redo it later when I actually need it.

That got me asking myself, why is that?!

I've come to a realization that it's not a bad memory, but it's how I process the data coming in.

We are bombarded with input daily, from work, home, family, friends, news, tv, our phones and a million other ways.

Our brain is designed to be able to filter all of that and hold on to whats important.

Just because we assume our brains should work a certain way, doesn't mean that is how they work. You assuming you should just remember everything you see, hear, feel, smell, say... doesn't make it reality.

You still need to help your brain know what-is-what when it comes to important memories, so that it's able to be a fine tune machine.

That is where it comes to writing things down! This tells your brain that it's important and most likely needs to be saved long term.

You read it as you write it. It not only gives you a verbal input (in your head or perhaps you voice it), but a visual input.

I've been practicing this, writing things down that I want to remember and I saw improvement immediately.

All those years you thought high school teachers had you write things down, just to be annoying? Well who knew they had this answer all along?!

Want some other helpful tips to improve your memory? Check out some random links I found on the innerwebz yo!

10 Tips for Improving Your Memory

6 Science-Backed Methods To Improve Your Memory

Discussion (10)

steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao

😂 😂 😂 that is precisely why I prefer to carry a journal with me to write things down.

Cause I'm absent-minded to a fault. Which I found writing down helps a lot to remember things.

I believe there was a research about it on remembering things which they founded that by writing things down you recall things much better than typing.

dechamp profile image
DeChamp Author

yes, I believe I've seen some research on this as well and honestly may be part of where my thoughts of this come from. Do the journal is great. I just find it really hard to carry a pen and paper around. So i depend on my ipad and iphone as well.

cecilelebleu profile image
Cécile Lebleu

I don’t know where I read this (ironic, right?), but the idea is that we need to interact with something 7 times, in 7 different ways, to really remember it.
Take for example a code snippet or a solution to a problem.

  1. Read it on an article before you know you need it.
  2. Hear it on a podcast.
  3. Read it on a course.
  4. See it explained on video.
  5. Write it down on your study notes.
  6. Dig it up to use it somewhere when you actually need it
  7. Remember it from your memory to use it again months later

The process will be different for different types of information, but I think it’s interesting to consider that maybe exposure time and types have something to do with it. Even writing it down once could not be enough (has happened to me!). It really depends on the person and what you’re learning.

dechamp profile image
DeChamp Author

ha ha, I am right there with you. I was also looking for an article on the rule of 7 when I wrote this, but I couldn't find it. I've read that you can write something down 7 times, repeat it 7 times and you should be able to remember it for long term. Most of us don't have time for writing something down 7 times so writing it down once, is better than none.

elasticrash profile image
Stefanos Kouroupis

I've been accused of not remembering a lot... especially about my work. But yes...that how my brain works. When I ran into a problem I always remember where I solved it last time but not how. But I know exactly where to look for the solution. Some people get annoyed others get it. 😍

dechamp profile image
DeChamp Author

see, this is the power of the brain. That isn't a bad thing. You remembered what you needed to. Your brain realized it was too much information to try to remember fully, so it just remembered how to find it. That is how mine works on a lot of things too.

pesonn profile image

Great article! I was thinking about this topic for a little while as well. I recognised that writing things down helps me a lot but there are Situation when you can’t write down what you want to remember. At work for example. There I don’t have the time to write everything down.
How do you handle those situations when you don’t have the time to write things down at the moment?

dechamp profile image
DeChamp Author

So I have the same issue when I'm at work and also at home, not being able to write things down due to being busy in the middle many things at once (dad and husband stuff typically).

The quick answer is I repeat it back to the person/s. Also knowing what is being talked about is important.

When I'm at work, I make sure I fully understand what we are discussing. When you understand the topic, it much easier to remember it. If I have to ask questions I will. I also practice stopping all discussion and repeating back my understandings, which gives me a solid view on discussion and I find it helps me remember due to running it through my mind and verbalizing it.

When I'm at home and I'm being asked things or told things when i'm in the middle of something, I will verbally repeat it to my wife. I also know that part of my "bad memory" is because I auto pilot. I've gotten better at telling my wife "sorry, I just realized I wasn't actually listening when I said yes to all of that", then I have her repeat it back to me. Then I repeat it back to her.

jeikabu profile image
jeikabu • Edited

I'm not sure where this comes from, but I think there's a general tendency for people to forget things- and it be acceptable. I routinely listened and failed to follow up. Then I started to write things down and that stopped. I use lulls in meetings to review my notebook (instead of playing with my phone, etc.).

In team scenarios somebody better be taking meeting minutes or recording action items/tasks, otherwise things just don't get done.

dechamp profile image
DeChamp Author

That is a really good piece of advice, to review notes vs playing on the phone. I agree, notes need to be taken in a meeting if you want actions to be taken. We had a culture committee meeting last week and we weren't making much progress. I stood up and started taking notes. Writing down action items. I asked people who wanted to do each item. Put names next to them. Then we made sure to sure those notes against all of us. It helped a lot.