Improve Your Memory: Part 3 – 5 hacks to boost recall

Remembering is a skill. The good news is it’s learnable. And it begins by learning how to improve your memory and boost recall.

Boost recall and improve your memory

Remembering is a skill. The good news is it’s learnable, improvable and it’s never too late to begin. And it begins by learning how to boost recall.

Learning is a combination of technique and focus. With the right focus and study technique you can learn anything, anytime, anywhere and in less time than you’d believe.

Think back to when you were a teenager. You could learn anything at a phenomenal speed. Especially if you found the subject interesting. In fact, the more interested you were in a subject the faster you learned. This was because you were focused.

The problem you were faced with time and time again was that you didn’t have the tools to learn efficiently. When you had to learn something you didn’t enjoy, learning was the equivalent of wading through a field of nettles.

The good news is that now science has determined a number of study techniques that work and can both double your capacity to learn while cutting your learning time by as much as 50%.

Learning can be broken down into three component parts:

Processing of information

Understanding what you have learned

Recall of study material when required

The following five study techniques will provide you with the tools to boost recall and improve your memory.

Practice Testing: Top Tip no 1

Practice testing is one of the most efficient ways to learn and retain information.

When you learn something new. Test yourself on it. It’s that simple.

For example:

You’ve learned a new recipe. It’s complicated and there’s a lot of ingredients.

The best way to know if you’ve retained the information is to sit down with a pen and paper and attempt to write out the recipe, with a full list of ingredients and all the instructions.

You can do this any number of times, for any subject matter.

Each time you test yourself, you boost recall and strengthen the memory and forge thicker connections in your brain.

Distributed Practice: Top Tip no 2

Distributed practice is another effective learning technique. It just means spreading your learning over a period of time.

For example:

You have an exam in thirty days. The natural instinct is to cram for the exam, crushing all your learning time into a few days or weeks. The only problem with this method is that you won’t retain the information for very long. Perhaps not even for the duration of the exam.

The best way to learn is to distribute your learning over a longer period. In this example you have thirty days. Ideally, you’d set aside an hour or two each day and use that time to prepare for the exam.

The reason distributed learning works so well is because you are constantly refreshing old material, linking it with new material and in the process strengthening the connections in your brain.

Repetition and linking are the keys to this technique.

Interleaved Practice: Top Tip no 3

Interleaved practice works well with distributed practice. As in the previous example, you have thirty days to prepare for an exam. But what if you had three exams on the same day? What would you do?

Once again the natural inclination is to cram, to do all the study in blocks. For example: AA BB CC etc.


The best approach is to set aside an hour a day for each subject. Three hours a day, for three subjects over a thirty day period.

For example ABC ABC ABC etc.

This combines interleaved practice with distributed practice, enhancing performance and improving retention.

Another advantage of interleaved practice is when you are studying two or three linked subjects, for example, math and physics: the crossover between the two subjects work to enhance your understanding of both areas, improving performance dramatically.

But even if the subjects aren’t linked, interleaving is still the best method of study.

Self Explanation: Top Tip no 4

The trick to Self Explanation is to continually ask questions.

For example:

You are learning about the sinking of the Titanic. In order to learn about the event what questions could you ask yourself?

A few basic questions might be:

How many lifeboats did the ship have?

How many passengers were on the ship?

How many passengers could each lifeboat hold?

What time did the event occur?

Why couldn’t the ship turn to avoid the iceberg?

How many survived the sinking of the Titanic?

And so on and so forth. As you read and absorb material, ask yourself what it means, go deeper into the material.

You might ask yourself other questions:

Why were some of the doors to the lower decks locked?

Why did it take so long for other ships to come to help?

Why were there not enough lifeboats?

What was it like to be a lower deck passenger?

What was it like to be member of the ships crew?

One thing all of these questions will do is help you remember in more detail the information you are reading. It also exposes gaps in your knowledge, giving you the opportunity to close the gap.

Elaboration Practice: Top Tip no 5

Elaboration practice is an extension of self explanation. The questions you ask are different. Where self explanation seeks simply to explain the material, elaboration seeks to create links between disparate ideas.

For example:

If we take the Titanic example again and seek to understand why so many people died, we would have to examine the link between the social classes and the prevailing attitude to new technology.

By elaborating on these two seemingly unconnected ideas you might find yourself asking questions that deepen the links between them, leaving you with a heightened understanding of the events leading up to the disaster and the personalities involved.

Elaborating on your current knowledge base does three things:

It links new material to old material

It strengthens the connections in your brain Gives you a deeper understanding of the subject.

Learn Faster – Putting It All Together

All of the techniques described work together to form an intensive and fool proof study plan.

Set up your study plan to ensure that your study sessions are both distributed and interleaved

Self explain the material you are studying during each study session

Elaborate on the material during each session

Test yourself at the end of every study session

As you practice each of these techniques and perfect how to blend them together into an optimum study method, you’ll find that learning becomes easier and less time consuming.

So there you have it, five tips to improve your memory and boost recall

Useful Resourses

Learn How to Study Using… Elaboration; The Learning Scientists

This is the second post in a series designed to help students learn how to study effectively. The purpose is to provide students with a resource that can help them take charge of their own learning. Today’s post is about using elaboration.

Learning Strategy 5: Self Explanation

This article covers the learning strategy of self explanation

Interleaving : An Effective Study Technique | 6med

An article covering the technique of interleaving.

Improve Your Memory: Part 2 – Learn Fast Earn More

Improve your Memory: Learn Fast

In 2011, a report released by the US Census Bureau highlighted the correlation between your level of education and your earning potential.

The stark revelation that workers with a high school diploma earned on average only half what a degree qualified worker did per year, wasn’t a surprise so much as a wake up call.

Learning is a premium skill that must be developed and promoted. How fast you learn can determine the speed at which you climb the career ladder.

You don’t have to have a degree to make your employer take notice, you just have to show your capacity to learn new skills. For example, even something as simple as learning to use Excel, Word or basic IT can turn you into the go-to person in your office.

Taking a first aid course, basic bookkeeping, accelerated driving course or learning about cyber security will all add value to your CV. Of course, going the extra step and earning that degree is always going to add to your bottom line. But in our current fast paced society, it’s essential that you are able to learn these skills quickly and efficiently.

Earn More – Why Education Matters.

Fifty years ago, you could work forty hours, get paid and go home for the weekend to spend time with your family, knowing that all your bills were paid. You had a good car in the drive, a holiday to look forward to and you could look forward to your pension and retirement with confidence.

That’s all changed now. Pension age has increased to sixty seven. And for those starting their working lives, might conceivably be seventy by the time they are ready to retire.

It takes two wages to run most households. Especially if you’re at the bottom of the career ladder. And a state pension is no longer enough to meet your retirement needs.

The only way to combat this is to improve your education level.

On average a degree qualified worker earns over $1,000 a week, while a worker with a High School Diploma earns on average over $600. It’s worse for workers without a High School Diploma, their average take home pay is less than $500 a week.

But the good news is that there are many excellent courses available, both on and offline, and at a cost that won’t break your bank. Taking advantage has never been as easy.

Even a couple of short online college courses can increase your income level by up to twenty seven percent. (Census Bureau 2011) This means that even without a degree you are improving your earning potential.

To put this in financial terms, a twenty seven percent increase to a basic workers weekly wage would be $135. For a worker with a high school diploma it equates to a $162 weekly increase.

Education has never been more important.

Develop Your Memory

Learning is dependent on memory recall. If it’s strong, you’ll learn fast. If it’s weak, you’ll struggle.

The good news is that your memory is much better than you realize.

Much like a muscle, your memory works better when it’s exercised. And the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets.

There are five excellent methods of studying that will help you learn faster and better.

They are:

1. Practice testing

2. Distributed practice

3. Interleaved practice

4. Elaboration interrogation

5. Self explanation

Read the article “Improve Your Memory: 5 hacks to boost recall” for a detailed explanation of these excellent study techniques.

You can also boost your learning potential by improving your:

1. Eating

2. Sleeping

3. and exercising habits.

Read the article “Improve Your Memory: 3 habits to Boost Recall” for more information on how your eating, sleeping and exercising habits impact on your ability to learn and remember.

Learn Fast and Earn More

It’s a simple equation. Learn fast and earn more.

To learn faster, develop your working and long term memory. Practice will make perfect.

As long as you are learning, you will be increasing your earning potential. Increasing your earning potential ensures that you can provide for yourself and your family, and not just the basics but the luxuries that make life worthwhile.

Learn fast. Earn More. Memorise. Wash and repeat. You’ll never look back.


The United States trails nearly all other industrialized nations when it comes to educational equality, and it shows in income inequality.

Education Is Biggest Determining Factor For Earning Potential – AOL Finance

It’s long been known that more education means more earnings for American workers. But a new report from the federal government shows just how stark the difference is among workers…

Improve Your Memory: 3 Habits to Boost Recall

You want to improve your memory? The beautiful thing about embracing these life habits is that every other aspect of your life will begin to improve too.

Improve Your Memory

Improve your memory. You want to remember those names and faces from the gym, because you don’t want to spend the rest of your life calling them, “hey you.”

Or maybe your job entails having to juggle two or three pieces of information at the same time and you don’t want to forget that crucial phone number that got called out to you but you didn’t have a pen handy to write it down.

It only takes a couple of changes to your current lifestyle to boost your memory potential and turn your struggles into a rock star performance.

The beautiful thing about embracing these life habits is that every other aspect of your life will begin to improve too.

Here’s how.

Sleep is Crucial: Healthy Habit no 1

The latest medical advice states that you need between seven and nine hours sleep in every twenty four hours in order to maintain a healthy fully optimized brain.

But do you get it?

The link between getting a good nights sleep and your ability to focus, process information and then remember that information is clear.

REM sleep or rapid eye movement is the dream state you enter when processing the events of the day. It’s here that you put your short term memories into long term storage. If you don’t get enough REM sleep, you won’t remember what you learned the day before.

Deep sleep is where your brain flushes out the bad proteins that gather during the course of the day. Neurologist’s now believe that this flushing process or rather the lack of it, potentially contributes to Alzheimer’s disease.

A refreshing sleep will improve your cognitive ability, increase your learning ability and make for deeper, stronger connections in your brain, allowing for easier recall. It’s critical that you get a regular good nights sleep.

Eat Healthy: Healthy Habit no 2

The Lancet Global Burden of Disease Study, published in 2017, found that 1 in 5 deaths (11 million in total) were associated with poor diet.

This study looked at the dietary intake of 195 countries and their findings were shocking.

The main risk factor wasn’t eating unhealthy foods as you would have assumed but rather, not eating enough nutrients and healthy foods.

The report found that low consumption of the foods listed below led to a reduction in the quality of life, higher risk of disease and a lowering of lifespan:

vegetables legumes


wholegrains nuts and seeds milk


calcium long chain omega 3s from seafood polyunsaturated fats

Not eating enough of the healthy foods listed above will lead to poor health and increased risk of disease and shortened lifespan.

While the consumption of red meat, processed meat, sugar-sweetened drinks, trans fats and sodium, all contributed to poor health and shortened lifespan, it was the lack of healthy food and nutrients that made the greatest impact.

The message from the study is clear. Eat healthy and reduce your risk of disease.

What’s also clear is that eating healthy is critical for keeping your mind sharp. Eating the right brain foods will keep you operating at your peak.

If you’re interested in learning more about brain foods then check out Optimum Nutrition for the Mind.

Exercise: Healthy Habit no 3

We all know that to maintain a healthy lifestyle, you need to exercise regularly. The benefits of regular cardio exercise include: lower risk of heart disease, longer life span, improve immune system, to name but a few. (more on this below.)

And yet, the majority of us don’t do enough exercise. Life is just too busy. For instance, the kids need to be taken to team events. Your boss has given you a big assignment, or you’re working two jobs to pay the bills. You’re just too tired after a day cleaning the house and chasing after the kids.

There are a lot of reasons why exercise might be low on your list of priorities.

Here’s five reasons why you need to put it at the top of your list.

1. Cardio exercise reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease. Doing cardio can help prevent that heart attack or stroke from ever happening. It can also lower your blood pressure, reduce your risk of diabetes and osteoporosis.

2. Cardio can improve your memory and sharpen your mental acuity. In short, exercising can help you think faster.

3. Doing a combination of cardio and resistance training will help you to lose body fat, tone up and sleep better at night.

4. Exercising boosts your energy levels throughout the day, making it easier for you to get things done.

5. It reduces stress by lowering your cortisol levels and producing endorphins.

And if that’s not enough for you. Here’s another good reason to get sweating. Exercise, especially when done socially, can be relaxing and fun.


It may seem elementary, but sleeping, eating and exercising for optimal health is not something you do as a matter of course. It takes effort, and an iron will.

But the benefits of building these three habits include:

1. A stronger, healthier bond between body and mind

2. Potentially longer lifespan

3. Reduced risk of getting heart disease, Cancer or Alzheimer’s

4. Improved learning ability and memory retention

5. A more active and happier lifestyle

In conclusion, living a longer and healthier life is a worthy goal, and if you work hard to improve your memory, you gain the added benefit of ensuring that you maintain strong mental health, which this means that you can be active and productive long after you retire.

And isn’t that worth the effort?


What is Healthy Sleep? – National Sleep Foundation

Sleep is vital to your physical and mental health. But, how can you tell whether you’re truly sleeping well? Especially if you work shifts, your sleep probably does not look exactly like other peoples’ sleep. It can be hard to measure…

British Nutrition Foundation

Poor diets associated with 11 million deaths worldwide according to the Lancet Global Burden of Disease Study.

Getting regular physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your health. It lowers the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and certain cancers, and it can also help control stress, improve sleep.

Optimum Nutrition for the Mind

Optimum Nutrition for the Mind by Patrick Holford is one of those books that you will turn to again and again.

Optimum Nutrition for the Mind

At 488 pages long, Optimum Nutrition for the Mind by Patrick Holford is a monster of a book, and each page is packed with the latest information about nutrition, in particular nutrition, for the brain. (As the title suggests)

The book is broken into 8 parts with an additional 34 pages of references, resources and 17 pages of recommended reading (broken down by chapter) and useful addresses.

Chapter list

Part 1. Food for thought.

Part 2. Protecting your brain.

Part 3. Improving your IQ, Memory and Mood.

Part 4. What is Mental illness?

Part 5. Solving Depression, Manic Depression and Schizophrenia.

Part 6. Mental Health in the Young.

Part 7. Mental Health in Old Age.

Part 8. Action Plan for Mental Health.

References and Resources.

Nutrition and Mental Health

The book covers a lot of ground and the amount of detail can be intimidating. Not only does Patrick Holford explain in detail the foods we need to eat to achieve optimal brain chemistry, he explains the mechanics behind the nutrition. (As far as it can be explained in lay terms.)

The one key theme that threads its way through the book is Patrick Holford’s belief that many of our modern mental health issues can be solved by virtue of eating the correct foods, in the correct amounts. And it’s hard to disagree with him especially when faced with the bible of information that he has provided on the subject.

The most brilliant thing about the book is that despite its size and the amount of information contained within its covers, you can dip in and out of the book and only read those parts that are pertinent to you. (At least for now.)

The first three parts will be of general interest to most readers, while the remaining five parts will be of varying interest, depending on your age, and experience with mental health issues. Those readers with family who are experiencing mental health problems, or age-related memory decline will find the information contained in these parts of considerable value.


Optimum Nutrition for the Mind by Patrick Holford is one of those books that you will turn to again and again, and each time you will find and understand more of what is contained within its covers.

I can’t recommend this book enough. Nutrition for the Mind is definitely a book for the shelf and gets a huge thumbs up.

About the Author

Patrick Holford B.Sc, DiplON, FBANT, NTCRP is one of the UK’s leading nutrition experts and is the author of over 30 books, translated into over 20 languages and selling over a million copies worldwide.

In 1984 he founded the institute for Optimum Nutrition (ION), Europe’s leading provider of nutritional therapy education.

He was also one of the first promoters of the importance of antioxidants, essential fats, B vitamins such as folic acid and a low-GL diet, and is Chief Executive of the Food for the Brain Foundation.


Optimize your brain health in four simple steps

Optimize your brain with healthy eating, physical exercise, meditation, and brain training and set yourself up for success.

Why do you need to Optimize your brain health?

Optimize your brain health. Sounds simple but what does it really mean? And why should you bother?  You’re already smart, so why should you go to the effort of squeezing out that extra bit of brain power when you could be partying with your friends or watching Elementary?

The answer is simple: you can never be smart enough, or sharp enough, not if you want to thrive in our modern world. And all you need to do to optimize your brain, is take four simple steps.

That’s all, four simple steps, to be a smarter, more organized, sharper version of yourself.

You live in a hectic world. A world of information overload. Your job is intense and requires you to work long hours. You’ve got so many calls on your time. Friends, family, strangers, they all want a piece of you. It really does seem like it’s too much bother, three steps? That’s too much effort; just too much.

But that’s also why you need to take control.

You are smart; but so are many of the people around you. Your boss, your co-workers, your friends are probably as smart as you are, and they are all in competition with you, to one degree or another. And who wins in a competition? The person who is fittest? Fastest? Smartest? Or the person who’s better prepared?

Usually, it’s the person who prepares the most and hardest. Natural talent will take you so far along any given road, but when it comes to the last push, any athlete will tell you, the winner is the person who prepared best.

And from here on in, that person is going to be you.

Step 1. Optimize your brain with a healthy diet.

The word diet has become almost synonymous with being unhealthy, but you don’t have to be overweight to be eating a sub-optimal diet.

And you don’t have to starve yourself or eat boring meals to create a brain friendly diet. What you do have to do is cut out all the food items that are hurting your health and replace them with healthy alternatives.

There are a couple of options available:

  • The Mediterranean diet.
  • A Plant based diet.

The Mediterranean diet has been researched and the data is highly positive. Switching over to a Mediterranean diet will improve your health, reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s as well as promote stronger brain function.

A plant-based diet is exactly what it says, a diet where you only eat plants. No dairy, no meat, no fish.

There’s an interesting documentary on Netflix called Game Changers which explores the positive outcomes that come from switching over to a plant-based diet.

Note: Drinking enough pure water (nothing diluted, sweetened or filled with caffeine) is an absolute requirement for a healthy brain. This point can’t be emphasised enough. Depending on your body size and body weight you’ll need anything from 1.5 to 2.5 litres per day. More, if you’re doing strenuous physical exercise.

Bonus tactic: Intermittent fasting is not a diet so much as a tactic that you can incorporate into your lifestyle no matter which diet you decide to opt for.

There are several options.  12:12, 14:10 or 16:8.

What this means is that you fast for either 12, 14 or 16 hours, and restrict eating to a 12, 10, or 8-hour window. You eat as normal during this time.

There is also a tactic known as the 5:2. What this means is that you eat normally for 5 days of the week and fast for 2 of those days. On the 2 days that you fast, you drop your calorie intake to 800 calories.

It sounds drastic and for some it can be too intense and difficult but there’s a lot of research to suggest that this form of intermittent fasting works.

Check out this article on intermittent fasting for more information.

Note: Never undertake any diet or exercise without first getting medical advice from your Doctor.

Couple jogging for health
Fitness couple jogging in the city park

Step 2. Do More Physical Exercise

Any amount of exercise is good for you, whether that be a ten-minute stroll around the block after dinner or a ten-mile run through the hills. But what is the best exercise for boosting your brain?

Science would suggest that a HiiT (High Intensity Interval Training) routine is the best exercise that you can do not only for your brain but for your entire body. And the beauty is that you can fit any HiiT routine into twenty minutes. It’s especially useful when you need to fit it into a busy schedule.

But what is a HiiT routine, exactly? Check out this article for a full breakdown.

But if HiiT isn’t for you, any cardio routine will do, whether that is a brisk walk, jog or game of squash. Any exercise that elevates your heartrate for a sustained period will provide your brain with a boost. 

Note: Never undertake any diet or exercise without first getting medical advice from your Doctor.

Step 3. Optimize your brain with Focussed and Mindful Meditation

Mindful meditation has been getting a lot of positive press lately and for good reason. It works.

Although, it’s a bit like a Ninja Throwing Star. It takes time and effort to master but once you’ve mastered it, your brain will reap the benefits.

And the best part? You can incorporate it easily into your daily life. Starting today.

There are two types of meditation that work well for improving brain health, focused meditation and mindful meditation.

Focussed Meditation

Focussed meditation is done by focussing your attention on a single element. That element can be a candle flame, a spot on the wall, an item of jewellery or your breathing. The main point of focussed meditation is that your attention remains focussed on your chosen element, to the exclusion of everything else.

Learn more about Focussed Meditation.

Mindful Meditation

Mindful meditation on the other hand does not focus on a single element. Instead, you remain aware of everything that is happening around you, your breathing, the way your body is feeling, the sounds of life around you.

If thoughts intrude, you simple pull your attention back to just being aware of everything. To be mindful is to be relaxed, aware, and non-judgemental.

Learn more about Mindful Meditation.

Step 4. Train your Brain.

You might wonder why training your brain is last on this list. And the answer is because it’s more effective if you’ve already incorporated the first three steps into your program.

So, the big question is, what are the most effective brain training exercises?

Exercise 1. Dual N Back.

Dual N Back is the only brain training game that has been proven to aid in boosting your fluid IQ. Combine Dual N Back with cardio or HiiT exercise and meditation for the greatest effect.

There are dozens of free Dual N Back apps available online both for PC and for your mobile phone.

Exercise 2. Mental maths.

Being able to perform mental calculations without having to rely on a calculator has been shown to correlate with higher IQ.

Exercise 3. Learn to play a musical instrument.

Learning to play a musical instrument has been shown to boost IQ. The act of remembering finger positions, notes and timing seems to require more areas of the brain working in tandem.

Exercise 4. Learn a foreign language.

Learning a foreign language forces the brain to step up a gear as you have to remember new grammar rules, vocabulary, pronunciations and etiquette.

Exercise 5. Create a memory palace.

Create a memory palace, more than one preferably, and use them to memorise and recall information that you would normally struggle with.

Never again forget a name or face, date or telephone number.

Exercise 6. Puzzles. Physical and mental.

Puzzles of any type whether they be physical or mental are brilliant for challenging your mental powers.

Clubs like Mensa and Triple 9 are great for challenging their members mental acuities.

Exercise 7. Learn to dance.

Learning to dance is an effective brain training exercise. According to an article on, research has shown that learning complex new dance routines can boost mental health in the elderly and increase IQ.

Exercise 8. Learn martial arts.

Learning martial arts is like learning to dance. It all about the kinestetic. The more complex the learning, combined with increased blood flow to the brain brings about positive changes in the brain and goes a long way to helping optimize your brain.

Check out this research paper, Martial Arts Training and Cognitive performance in Middle Aged Adults

Exercise 9. Travel.

Our brains love new experiences and what is better than seeing the world. Visit a city like Venice or Prague, and just soak up the sights and sounds.

Go walking in the Cotswolds, or scuba diving off Egypt, or visit every museum in Europe. It doesn’t matter where you go or what you do, the very act of doing something different will stimulate your neural pathways.

Exercise 10. Take up a hobby that is both mental and social.

Hobbies like chess, poker, bridge, backgammon, and scrabble combine mental exertion with social interaction. Join a club and stretch your mind.

The mental exercise you’ll receive from playing these games combined/ with the social interactions with other club members is intensely satisfying emotionally which is a huge boost to mental health.

Exercise 11. Read to learn. Or just learn something.

If you really want to optimize your brain, you must commit to never stop learning. Pick a subject you’d like to master and make it happen. Whether you want to be a pub quiz wizard, a history buff, science geek, or computer nerd, all you have to do is pick your subject and commit to learning. It doesn’t matter what you choose to learn. It’s just important to keep learning.

Learning how to juggle, knit, sew, cook, do DIY are also excellent examples of ways to ignite the neural fires within your mind. And there are thousands of books that will aid you in your quest for information.

It doesn’t matter what you want to learn. It doesn’t even have to come from reading a book. Youtube videos are another great way to learn.

What matters is that you are learning and that your mind is working hard to consume and retain new knowledge.

Exercise 12. Be creative. Write, sculpt, paint, sketch, sing, act, dance, tell jokes, play an instrument.

The very act of creation, regardless of the medium, enhances and extends the neural networks in your brain.

Check out this article on creativity and the brain on Forbes


It’s as easy as 1,2,3, 4 to incorporate these life changing habits into your daily routine. Optimize your brain with healthy eating, physical exercise and meditation, brain training and set yourself up for success.


Neuroscience at

Find articles and research about the brain.

Creativity, Brain and Art:

An interesting article on Art, Creativity and the Brain.