We live in an age of information overload. Those who can’t keep up risk getting left behind.
We are constantly besieged by too much information coming at us from multiple sources, from email to texts, blogs, social media, podcasts, WhatsApp, Discord, Telegram, and more, that it’s like being blasted with a firehose.
As a result, forgetfulness is a big issue for many people, and it’s getting worse.
Here’s how to better cope with it.
THE “4-R FORMULA”
Let’s take a look at how your computer stores information and use it as a model to improve our own mental abilities.
I’m going to give you my “4-R Formula” which will help you get mentally organized so you can eliminate the stress, anxiety, and problems that come from not remembering information when you need it.
Here’s the “4-R Formula”: Registration + Retention + Retrieval = RESULTS
R-1 = REGISTRATION
You must first REGISTER whatever information you want to be able to use. Not all information is equally important or essential.
Just like with your computer, you must deliberately enter the specific information you want to use. Whatever is important to you and your success, you must first pay special attention to collecting that information accurately to begin with.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s the name of somebody you’re meeting, a lesson from a textbook, details from a phone conversation, or facts from an email, you must first GET the information, if you want to be able to use it later.
As I often say in my training classes, “If You Don’t GET It, You Can’t KEEP It.” Think of it this way: to FORGET means to NOT GET.
“R-1” is the most important step, because none of the others will happen if you don’t PAY ATTENTION and collect the information properly.
That means you must eliminate your distractions. Be fully aware and present when you are about to collect information that’s important to you.
Just like your computer, you must deliberately collect and then enter the information into your machine’s memory.
R-2 = RETENTION
One of the biggest reasons people have trouble remembering things is that they don’t have any sort of system for putting information into their minds in an orderly fashion.
I call it “The PILE vs. The FILE”.
Imagine a big empty room inside your mind. As you receive information, it’s like putting it on a mental sheet of paper. Then you throw that sheet of paper containing the info on the floor.
As new information comes in, the pile of paper gets bigger and bigger.
When you need to remember something, it’s easy to find the sheets of paper on top, but as the pile continues to grow, it becomes harder to find what you’re looking for.
That’s why stuff you recently learned is easy to remember, but things from last week or last month are harder to recall.
However, if you put each piece of paper into a filing cabinet that is well organized, then you can better find what you need whenever you’re looking for it.
LET ME STOP YOU HERE AND ASK A COUPLE OF QUESTIONS
Does it take more effort to file stuff away, rather than simply throwing sheets of paper on the floor?
Yes. It does.
But what’s really better? Easily finding information that’s been properly filed or wasting time, stressing out, and giving up in frustration because you can’t access what you need when you need it?
Just as you put information into your computer with organized files, so you can find them when you need them, you can do the same thing with your mental computer.
I’ll cover how to construct several kinds of mental filing systems like Memory Maps, Memory Palaces, and Memory Chains, in other articles, but all mental filing systems essentially boil down to performing just 2 simple tasks:
IMAGINATION and CONNECTION.
Your mind is an image-making and connecting machine. When you receive new information, your mind first seeks to picture it and then connect it with other stuff that you already know.
Some people call it “association”, but I prefer the word “connection”. I think it’s easier if you think of it like a set of LEGO BLOCKS in your head, where you’re connecting the new information to what’s already built.
R-3 = RETRIEVAL
When you put the information away in an orderly fashion, it becomes easier to retrieve when you need it.
We could have also named it RECALL. Look at the word: Re-Call. You want to call the information back to the present moment when you need it again.
Unfortunately, what many people do is confuse their ability to recall by saying the wrong things to themselves.
Many times, I’ll hear people in conversation say something like “I can’t remember” or they say “I forget…”
Those are absolutely the worst things you can say to yourself because you are short-circuiting your recall process. You are confusing your little mental “search engine assistant” about whether you really want the information or not. Stop giving yourself unnecessary obstacles when trying to recall something.
Instead, say this:
“IT WILL COME TO ME IN A MOMENT”.
Then take a deep breath, let it go, and in a moment the information you need will “Pop” into your mind… like magic.
R-4 = RESULTS
When you pay special attention to REGISTER new information with your full awareness, then RETAIN it by mentally filing it away properly, and then allowing yourself to RETRIEVE that information without inserting obstacles, then you will achieve great RESULTS.
By using the “4-R Formula”: Registration + Retention + Retrieval = RESULTS, you will have given yourself great mental memory power like your computer.
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