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woman with hand on headDo you scramble to get out the house while frantically looking for your cellphone, keys, work bag, wallet, laptop or all of the above? Why is it so difficult to remember where you placed things you need to get your day started? According to a study conducted by the University of Waterloo (2012), when we are rushing we usually see the item we are looking for, pick it up and toss it aside. The reason we do this is because are perceptual attention is not as swift as are hands when sorting through our work bag or piles of paper. This is a common problem many people face daily.

There are three things you can do to get your perceptual and motor systems to work simultaneously so you can find the missing item(s). According to the study above, they are as follows:

1. Think aloud. Try naming everything that you are looking through. For example, say, “I have my workbag; here is my pen; here is my wallet; here is my laptop; aha, here is my work badge.”
2. Trust your instincts. If you know you always leave your keys on the hook near the garage door, they are probably there. It is worth taking a look.
3. Rely on your sense. Use smell, sound and texture to locate an object. Do not just rely on what you can see in front of you. Feeling the texture of your cellphone case, hearing the keys rattle in the bottom of your work bag and/or the smell of the breath mints in the work bag can joggle your memory and help you locate a lost item.

For more tips on how to improve your memory, consider reading Learn to Remember: Practical Techniques and Exercises to Improve Your Memory by Dominic O’Brien. If you feel your memory issue is more severe, consider scheduling an appointment with your primary care physician.
–Ma’at Xi

Categories: Blog

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