“What’s your name again?”
It’s an embarrassing question to ask a client or customer you recently met. It’s also one that causes many entrepreneurs to profess they have a poor memory.
You can use fancy software to recall people’s names faster, but the human brain is a more effective device than any digital tool, if used correctly.
Just ask Dr. Anthony Metivier. He’s the author of the Magnetic Memory series of books. Metevier is also an entrepreneur who teaches students online how to improve their memory. He believes digital amnesia complicates rather than simplifies remembering ideas, concepts and even peoples’ names.
“People aren’t learning because they can’t process information properly through digital media,” he said. “Everybody either knows this through practical experience or they feel it intuitively.”
Construct A Memory Palace
Metivier and other memory experts like Joshua Foer advocate using a memory palace to avoid forgetting names and ideas you come across.
First, construct an imaginary location in your mind that you know intimately, like your house. Next, store colorful images related to what you want to remember at locations or stations within this palace, like at your front door.
When you need to remember something, mentally walk around your palace, stopping at each location to examine the colorful image.
Metivier explained how he’d use a memory palace and an unusual image to remember my name.
“I’d think of a home I have, and I’d see another Bryan, like Bryan Cranston from Breaking Bad. He’d carry a Collier encyclopedia or something close to ‘Collins,’” said Metivier.
After meeting me, Metivier would revisit this location in his memory palace and examine the mental image of Bryan Cranston.
“He was beating up this new guy, Bryan, with the Collier Encyclopedia, but his name wasn’t Collier, it was Collins. Do that four or five times, and I’ll never forget your name for the rest of my life.”
Create A Mindmap
A memory palace is useful for capturing names and even your shopping list, but what about ideas from interesting business books?
Metivier avoids the problem of digital amnesia by mind-mapping ideas he reads and wants to internalize.
Tony Buzan first advocated this practice, and it involves constructing a visual map of an idea you want to expand on.
“Basically, a mind map allows you to replicate the way the brain cell works. There’s a central nucleus in the brain cell, and then everything flows out or radiates out from that center,” Metivier said.
In the center of a large piece of paper, draw a single image representing your idea. Using colorful pens, draw tributaries out from this central idea and write down whatever comes to mind.
“These tributary rivers that you create give you a perspective that you don’t get otherwise,” Metivier said. “You see connections that you wouldn’t be able to see if you weren’t externalizing in front of your eyes and then fortifying what’s happening in the brain.”
For an entrepreneur who runs an online business, Metivier spends a surprising part of his day offline. He writes articles in a coffee shop using a device that doesn’t have internet access, believing this practice strengthens his memory.
“The number one thing is to get away from the internet. I do a tremendous amount of my work offline, and I create a world in which I spend as much time as possible offline,” he said.
Metivier gravitates toward pen, paper and other analogue tools over the latest gadget or software. He also recommends using virtual assistants and delegating as many tasks as possible.
“If I can avoid software, I will,” he said. “We have this digital amnesia problem, let’s encourage people to get off their machines.”
Our digital devices are useful productivity tools, but if you want to avoid drawing a blank the next time Wi-Fi drops or your battery dies, use the most powerful tool you’ll ever have–your brain.