When I started college, I always feared that if I did not make enough friends early on, I would be left out on many beneficial things. I could be missing out on late light meals with friends, going to watch the latest movies, group work outs, trendy spots, and even small study groups (with smart people). To avoid this from happening, what did I do? I grabbed everyone’s contact numbers! The only thing though was that, I grabbed so many numbers that I could not remember whose number belonged to whom. I would meet that person later and forget how or where I met them, sadly. But it wasn’t too big deal since I was only close to a few people at the time and that was the only group I spent most of my time with.
Eventually I started working and I needed to work with A LOT of people. In order to work with them, I would need to contact them often and this means I would need their contact number as well as the clients’. Sometimes after obtaining their contact info, I would save them on my contacts list, only to later realize… I CANNOT remember the name of who that person was. That person essentially becomes lost in my contact list among several hundreds to thousands of people.
Now this can become a big issue…I mean, I used to be someone who memorized random things for fun and easily too…
What Happened to My Memory Capacity?
When I was young, I was put through A LOT of schooling. I went to regular school for 5 days a week like everyone else. In addition, I was put on tutoring and Chinese school on Saturdays and Sundays. This means I was practically going to school 7 days of the week (no idea how I did that back in the day). During Chinese school, I memorized countless amounts of information from lesson chapters to writing characters to even essays. My memory capacity was quite exceptional! When it came time to memorize things in regular school, I can safely say it was easier for me than most people.
Later I transitioned to high school with that memory capacity. In addition to academic content, I would memorize random things for fun such as people’s phone numbers and even my classmates’ student ID’s. I would never need to use an agenda because I would just remember my to-do list and events on my calendar ALL in my mind. Basically if I think and plan to do something, I have a mental agenda recording everything. I would also remember the directions to any place if I drove there at least once so it was like I had an internal GPS system. Things were going good and there was not much to be stressed about.
Things Took a Turn for Me…
Then came the day I finally finished Chinese school around when high school ended. I was REALLY happy, I could enjoy my weekend like normal folks and I would no longer need to be put on that intense mental training. I also started to adopt a more chill, lazy lifestyle avoiding memorize things even in regular school thinking that I am wasting time and would not have to ever use this information. This went on for some time and this was where things started to take a little turn…
By not consistently exercising that area of my brain, my memory capacity started to decrease. I would easily forget names of new people I met, unable to remember more than 7 things of a list, or even what I had for breakfast. I would start to panic when I am thrown with too many steps for any type of activity. Brain became a bit more foggy and absent-minded.
What Are Some Methods to Improve Memory Capacity?
Have you ever wondered how some individuals are able to remember the exact order and suit of a full deck of cards? It is quite an amazing feat and seems almost like an ability of a superhero. But there are strategies to help with that.
For example with memorize numbers, 10 digit numbers can seem like A LOT and quite intimidating. The key here is to break it down into parts. From those 10 digit numbers, you can break it down to manageable parts.
The FIRST 3 digits = the area code (I.e. 800)
The SECOND set of 3 digits (before the dash) = 123
The LAST set of 4 digits (after the dash) = 4567
Sometimes these numbers do not mean anything and can be hard to remember still. Another key thing to do here is to attach meaning here. It can be personal/meaningful or it can be random/silly. Now whenever you want to recite numbers, you just need to remind yourself of the meaning you create and Voila! You will also remember the number AND the order.
For example if the number was 800-654-1397, I can break it down to:
800 = toll free area code number (I imagine that automated voice, “call us toll-free, at one-eight hundred….)
654 = it’s a horizontal backwards line in the middle of the numbers keypad or count backwards from 6 down to 4
1397 = imagine drawing a rectangle on the numbers keypad starting from upper left to upper right to lower right to lower left
This does not ONLY have to be with memorizing phone numbers but it can be with anything like academic content. If you break down what you are trying to memorize into more manageable chunks and add meaning to whatever you are trying to memorize, it will make remembering that content that much easier. In a sense, if you can incorporate other senses (sight, smell, taste, touch, auditory) into the process, the more memorable something can become. Be as creative as you want!
Here is a YouTube video with similar strategies: Feats of Memory Anyone Can Do
A Tool that Helps with Remembering Recent Contact Numbers
Putting in that extra effort to improve our memory capacity is always a good thing even if the improvement is small. With time, all those small improvements will add up! Mental degradation illnesses like Alzheimer’s or Dementia can be significantly delayed and we can live more fulfilling lives without having to worry too much if we have forgotten to do something.
But, work is still work (or school) and we might not be able to train our brains quickly enough to start memorizing contact numbers and the associated person quickly enough to the point where it becomes second nature just yet. Fortunately, there are phone applications that you can download like “Recent Contacts” (or something similar) for Apple devices to take a huge weight off your shoulders. I currently use an iPhone X.
I was so thankful when a good friend of mine introduced me to this application. I tried many ways to boost my memory and it sometimes cannot be helped but I just cannot remember the recent contact number.
It was VERY difficult trying to regain the high memory capacity I once had when I kept training it. This tool helps record all the numbers that you input into your phone. It takes note of the time and date and most importantly, the name of the person! With this tool, you will NEVER forget who your newly added contacts are.
There are times when even after inputting that new contact into your phone and Recent Contacts is able to pull it up for you, you may still not remember the full details of who that person is. Therefore, it is always good to type some details into the note section of the number when adding to contacts list. For example, new contact A “likes to eat A, B, C and loves to do A, B, C. Birthday is on A, B, C.” Details obtained is dependent upon your preference. Of course, you’ll learn more about them with time so this step is only temporary.
Recent Contacts may not be available for all phones but there are similar applications for other phone platforms. Therefore, you may have to play around with some of them a little and use the application that is most user-friendly for you. This one is free while other applications may not be so.
I am a firm believer of the phrase “use it or lose it.” The more we put into practice something, the better we get at it. This includes even our memory capacity. There are methods to boost your memory but that ability may not be attained overnight. If you train consistently, you may be able to attain a very high memory capacity and even delay certain mental illnesses. Remember to not be so hard on yourself it you are not able to pick it up quickly. Sometimes we just have days of brain fog.
However, there are times when we may still need tools especially for our important day to day tasks like at work to aid in the process of remembering recently added contacts. Applications like Recent Contacts can greatly help with that and remove a lot of unneeded stress off your shoulders.
Did you enjoy this life hack on how to remember your recently added contacts and even how to improve your memory? Please leave a comment below!