Build a memory better than your computer’s

Although Bob Gray has taught memory skills for two decades, the president and founder of Memory Edge, gave his first workshop to IT professionals at last month’s Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS) Informatics conference in Halifax, NS.

He demonstrated how memory skills can enhance recall, and therefore, increase job performance and productivity. “I’ve yet to come across a business, industry or profession that can’t work more effectively through better recall,” said Gray, who holds a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for being able to speak phonetically backwards.

Gray teaches four memory systems including Chain, which is used for memorizing and recalling a specific sequence of items. Peg is used for memorizing a group of 20-30 items which can be recalled in random order (for example, “what was number 8, or number 12?”). He also uses the Phonetic Index, a 300-year-old system developed in the 1600s, and updated in the 1700s. The Names and Faces system, meanwhile, makes an association between a person and their name in order to facilitate recall.

According to Gray, the average individual can remember the names of two out of 10 people they’re introduced to. This technique, he said, permits 100 per cent recall.

Once these skills are learnt, elements can be filtered out if not relevant to the business. He said practice the models for 15-20 minutes a day over 21 days to allow the habit to form.

Donna Forbes, an IT director with Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, attended Gray’s workshop and said besides recalling the tasks that encompass day-to-day processes, good memory skills are ideal for processes not often put into action, such as business continuity/disaster recovery. “We could work as a team to put recovery procedures into a list, and in the heat of the moment, we could recall certain things that we had to do, where things would be, etc.,” said Forbes.

Name recall, too, would allow Forbes and her team of 20, to provide IT support along with great customer service to the 500 faculty and staff and 4800 students on campus.

Shafiq Qaadri, Toronto-based medical writer and family physician, said enhancing the speed and efficiency of thinking, making associations, deriving new solutions to problems, and multi-tasking are just some benefits of sharper memory.

Qaadri, however, thinks such memory skills require a context to work — they only help store discrete points of data that is different from, and not transferable to, skills memory, which is more useful and can only be learnt by doing.

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