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Brain Hacks And Apps To Help You Remember Names, Dates, And More

Here are a few mental exercises to try, plus an app or two to fall back on in case that doesn’t work.

Brain Hacks And Apps To Help You Remember Names, Dates, And More
[Illustration: Muti]

Can’t remember what you were just about to say to your boss? You’ll be glad to know a recent study from the University of Toronto found that forgetting things may make you smarter, optimizing intelligent decision making by letting go of things that don’t matter. But that’s little consolation as you stammer in front of the supervisor who’ll be conducting your next performance review. Here’s some advice for avoiding your next brain freeze.

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Related: Your Brain Has A “Delete” Button–Here’s How To Use It


If You Keep Forgetting Names

Try this. When you meet someone, says Ron White, two-time national memory champion, more often you’re thinking, “What do I think of them?” or “What do they think of me?” Instead, think, “What is their name?” Turn their name into a visual as you walk away. “Our mind remembers what it sees,” says White.

If that doesn’t work. Name Shark creates a database of names and faces by tapping into your phone’s camera. Take photos of people directly, or grab a snapshot of a picture posted on the web.

If You Keep Forgetting Dates And Events

[Illustration: Muti]
Try this. Visualize the event, suggests Allison Lamont, cofounder of Memory Foundation in New Zealand. Think about where it will take place, how you will get there, who you will see, and what will be discussed. This will plant the date more firmly in your memory.

If that doesn’t work. Countdown counts down the days before an important event and lets you know how much time you have left to prepare. Just Reminder lets you upload important events and then nudges you via smartphone reminders—days, hours, and minutes ahead of time.

If You Keep Forgetting What You Were Going To Say

[Illustration: Muti]
Try this. To prepare for a speech, create memory pegs that connect talking points to pieces of furniture in your home, suggests White. Remember to discuss sales figures by picturing money on your table, a timeline by recalling the clock in your kitchen, goals by seeing a football goalpost on your TV screen.

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If that doesn’t work. Speech Buddy helps you prepare by uploading your talk and quizzing you on how well you remember the text. Memorize Anything lets you record and then listen back as you rehearse. As you memorize, you can set the audio to fade out then back in if you make a mistake.

If You Keep Forgetting To Deal With Email

[Illustration: Muti]
Try this. Take immediate action on any task that requires less than two minutes to complete, says David Allen, author of Getting Things Done. Move emails that will take time to a separate folder so they don’t get lost. Schedule time to respond.

If that doesn’t work. Boomerang for Gmail enables you to handle an email later by clicking a button and choosing when you need it again. FollowUpThen sends automatic follow-up reminders to you and your recipient. It also archives and then returns important emails to your inbox.

If You Keep Forgetting Where You Put Your Phone

[Illustration: Muti]
Try this. If the ringer is on: Call yourself. (Oh, wait–you don’t have your phone.) If the ringer is off: Apple and Android have options for turning it back on by logging in to your account.

If that doesn’t work. Find My iPhone and Where’s My Droid show the location of your phone on a map via separate computer. Both apps can also be configured to allow you to lock–or wipe clean–your missing device.

If You Keep Forgetting Your Passwords

[Illustration: Muti]
Try this. Use the PAO–“person, action, object”–formula from Joshua Foer’s book, Moonwalking With Einstein. For example, “Mom riding a two-person go-kart filled with spaghetti.” Then use this visual to create a password, such as “MoGo-2ghetti.”

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If that doesn’t work: LastPass and Dashlane browser extensions and apps generate and organize passwords, auto-filling them on the sites you visit. You just need to remember one–your master password to the service.