Simple ways to improve your memory at work

Kerryn Lyes, Published: Mon 18th Feb, 2019

As a real estate agent, your attention is constantly being pulled in different directions. Between meeting buyers and vendors, marketing yourself and your listings, keeping on top of market trends, and closing deals – there’s little room for error.

Remember me?

When you see someone you know but you can’t remember their name, it can compromise your ability to connect with that potential buyer, vendor, or industry ally. Don’t let forgetting names distract you from the present moment.

Try these methods for remembering names:

Listen closely

As Simon Sinek says, “There’s a difference between listening and waiting for your turn to speak”. Listen to the person when they tell you their name, repeat it back to them, and check the pronunciation or ask them how it’s spelt. This not only helps cement the name in your memory, but it can also be quite interesting. By asking extra questions, you may learn something novel about their name or where it comes from.

When you meet someone in the industry, ask for a business card and add them as a contact (with a note on how you met).

Connect the dots

Associate something with the person’s name. You can think of someone famous with the same name or make up a rhyme – the sillier the better. For example, “Michael Breeze eats trifle with cheese”. I tested this concept while writing this article and it genuinely works.

Repeat their name silently in your mind.

Repetition is an age-old communications technique for getting information across. By repeating something, you’re strengthening the new pathway in your brain, so it really gets the information to stick.

General memory tips

Get moving

Aerobic exercise, such as jogging, has been linked to improved short-term memory and recall. According to the British Psychological Society, "an acute bout of aerobic exercise improves your short-term memory. Exercise before learning benefited immediate recall. But when people had to wait to recall the words, they performed best when they exercised after learning...” This is consistent with the idea that novel environments, like getting out of the office, enhance short-term memory.

Go for a run

Kiwi running coach, Arthur Lydiard is often credited with the popularisation of jogging as a sport, so it’s almost a matter of national pride. For added motivation and a bit of marketing crossover, sign-up for a race, sponsor a local event or put together a running group from the office.

Whenever you can, act immediately.

Every task you put off now just becomes one more thing to remember later. When you need to park something until tomorrow, export your ideas to good old pen and paper or use a note-taking app such as Evernote or OneNote. Some research indicates that writing by hand is more effective for memory retention, but I’d just go with whatever works for you.

Write detailed notes

If you’re writing a note-to-self, include enough detail that it would make sense to someone else. Instead of just a post-it scribbled with something like ‘Email Tracy', flesh it out with the person’s full name, date, topic, and reason for the email.

Use your senses

Connect what you’re trying to remember with more than one sense. When I was studying, I would always chew mint gum when preparing for a maths exam. Then I’d take some gum into the exam. I'd formed an association between mint and maths which improved my recall during the test. This could be the placebo effect at play, but it really seems to work.

If all else fails, get creative

How did you learn the alphabet? Probably to the tune of twinkle twinkle little star. You could write a poem or compose a song to help you remember a particular concept or idea. Sing in the shower and improve your memory power!

Why bother?

A good working memory will help you avoid the unwanted stress that comes with forgetfulness, so you can focus more on personal connection and deliver a better selling experience for your customers.

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