Whether trying to recall a person’s name or information for a test, there are certain strategies, techniques and habits that can improve your memory. Humans have a much easier time recalling events, places or people that are meaningful to them, rather than arbitrary lists. You can recall difficult information by linking it with accessible information. Practice memorizing new and challenging information. The following techniques and tips can help:

Acronyms and acrostics
Mnemonics are learning techniques that aid memorization, such as an acronym, which is a word formed from the first letter of each word in a phrase. For example, SCUBA is an acronym that means Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. This technique can be manipulated to make your life easier. An acrostic is formed when the first letter of each word or line forms a message. This can be used to create hidden messages or to aid memorization. When music students need to memorize the treble clef, they often learn the acrostic EVERY GOOD BOY DOES FINE. The first letter of each word is the name of each line of the trebling clef in ascending order.

An extremely successful technique is visualization. If you associate whatever you are trying to memorize with an image, it will be much harder to forget. In order to memorize elaborate information you can construct a memory palace. Visualize a place. This can be your house, your route to work, a palace, a map — anything that you have already committed (or can commit) to memory. The more detailed your memory palace, the more information you can store. Once you decide on this place, plan a route that you will travel. Then start putting objects around your memory palace that you need to remember. Since you already know the locations and the route, all you need to do is fit this new information into your past knowledge. If you use vivid or bizarre imagery, you will be more likely to recall them. This can help you remember anything from the starting lineup for a basketball team to a poem.

You can change your environment to include things you want to memorize. You perceive your surroundings every day and commit them to memory. Use this to your advantage. If you want to memorize the names of every Shakespeare play, place each one on your bookshelf. While you’re doing so, why not place them in chronological order? The daily reminder will keep this task on your mind.

Exercise and nutrition
Better health leads to improved memory. Stress and depression can hinder your memory. Relaxing evenings with friends, exercise, meditation, omega-3 fatty acids, vegetables, complex carbohydrates, fruits and red wine (in moderation) can prove beneficial.