An hour ago I had to turn off all of my notifications on all of my devices, just so I could focus on sifting through the myriads of research about technology in relation to memory retention in the workforce, and to retain it long enough to write it down. I soon discovered it’s not hard to find a study on how technology is a distraction, with claims that it is making us “dumber”, as in, having less ability to retain information. So, I chuckled when I found this quote hidden in a blog post called The Technologically Enhanced Memory by Evan Selinger:
“Go to a party and brag about your ability to recall contact information. Nobody will toast your commitment to swimming against the tide of memory depletion. Instead, folks will tell you and your antiquated sensibilities to get a life and a smartphone.”
It’s true. As “dumb” and information-laden as we are, we are not impressed with anyone’s memory for knowing someone’s phone number or home address. It may be impressive to quote Keats or Dickinson amongst those who have poetic sensibilities; but that’s just culture, or an Intellectual Superiority Complex, or you’ve been watching too many romantic movies. Whatever the case, yes, committing things to memory is good, but also, “forgetting facts frees up space in our brain,” as purported in a paper published in Psychological Science, posted in How Smartphones Improve Your Memory. It goes on to say, “[The smartphone is] essentially letting us re-allocate cognitive resources away from old, irrelevant information and to focus instead on remembering new, more relevant facts and information. The advantage of this is that it allows us to free our brains up to be more responsive to our environment in real time.” Here are some ways we can utilize technology so we can retain our ability to memorize and recall information as needed:
5 Tech LifeHacks To Boost Your Memory Retention
Train Your Brain
Combat Knowledge Decay In The Workplace, is actually a blog post about training in the workforce. It is, essentially, a three-step process where the equation of Long-Term Knowledge Gain equals Long-Term Performance Gain. Kind of makes sense, right? The longer you do something, stretched over a longer time period, in smaller bits, the better you know your stuff. So, here are the three components: The Spacing Effect plus Repeated Retrieval plus Confidence-Based Learning. Everyone knows the best way to learn something is to just do it, over, and over, and over again with the right tools. If I had kept playing guitar for longer than three months, I would probably be a washed up version of Taylor Swift by now. Like anything, practice, over time, makes perfect, builds neural pathways, and creates a foundation on which to confidently do your job. You can perform without fear, hesitation, or misinformation. You can be the expert or the pop star…
Manage Your Tech, Don’t Let It Manage You
We live in the era of praise-be-to-The-Multi-Tasker. Multi-tasking isn’t even really possible. You might be able to rub your belly clockwise and pat the top of your head at the same time, but it doesn’t work that way when you’re working on a project. Whatever you’re doing demands your full attention. What you are actually doing throughout the day — yes, you, with the 11 tabs and 4 documents open — you are “Task Switching” according to Psychology Today’s The True Cost of Multitasking. I have 11 tabs open, so it’s okay. No judgment. Use your time wisely. Time-block, essentially. Use the blog link above to check out the 6 or 7 helpful tips on managing multiple tasks in a day. You can also block out time to do nothing. Sometimes your brain needs to rest!
Wearables are fun. Finally, time to focus on the fun side of technology to help with your memory. Much of our memory and retention is based on our overall health and wellbeing. Wearables can encourage healthier habits and reduce stress, increase productivity and information retention through ease of access and use, create more motivation, enhance company culture, and help with cognitive recognition. All of that promotes a healthier, happier brain that retains information and increases memory. Check out 9 Ways Technology Can Increase Workplace Health And Wellness
That’s right. I said it. Gaming. Even one hour of action video gaming a day can boost your cognitive retention. It also does a whole lot of other stuff that much smarter people than I have studied. I have a teenager who would not believe I’m saying this, but he’s too busy with his XBOX ONE to know what I’m writing about. Those who are known as “gamers” actually develop non-gaming skills that can put them ahead of the competition in a tech-saturated, fast-paced environment. Perhaps, all of those hours I have spent playing games like, Tomb Raider and Splinter Cell: Blacklist ™ were useful after all. It’s all here in Video Games Boost Brain Power:
- Gamers have better contrast sensitivity; their eyesight is sharper.
- Gaming gives a person laser focus; the ability to make split-second decisions.
- Playing action video games with 3D characters closes the gender gap with spatial cognition. (Sorry, ladies, we don’t have great spatial cognition. Good news, though, we can improve our spatial cognition and test almost as well as the men in just a very few hours of gaming.)
These non-gaming skills that are acquired through gaming are likened to musicians by Lauren Sergio, of York University in Toronto, who says,
“If you look at professional piano players, professional musicians, you see this phenomena where they don’t activate as much of their brain to do very complicated things with their hands that the rest of us need to do. And we found that the gamers did this as well.”
So, I say, “Game on.”
Brain Training Apps
There are brain exercise apps that are quick and fun to use. Just like exercising your body promotes physical health, as well as mental health, exercising your mind gives it that elasticity, stamina, and strength it needs to keep your memory strong, retentive. Here are 11 Brain Training Apps To Train Your Mind And Improve Memory. Not long ago, I was sitting with friends in a Tim Hortons playing an app version of the original Simon game. It may seem silly, but it was great enjoyment seeing how far we could get. Exercise your brain with a little training. It’s kinda fun!
So, what does this mean for those of us who flip open our laptops in our PJ’s or sit down at our desks in our offices each day and have to function in a world of social media bombardment, required “multitasking”, and have to retain enough information to be good at whatever the heck it is we do from day to day while using our technology-dependent-brains? Why, use the technology to our advantage, of course! Be smart. Make it work for us. We are not its slave. Let’s use our brains today.