Memory Tips for the ADHD Brain, Part 1
I’m still a criminal. I admit it. In my dark, pre-ADHD-diagnosis past, I was a grand larcenist. But the only things I steal these days are magazines. From doctors’ waiting rooms. And a while back, while waiting for my ADHD meds prescription, I took a five-finger discount on a report from Johns Hopkins Medicine on the subject of memory. Just leafing through it I got a million ideas for #CrusherTips (on Twitter), Facebook posts and, of course, blog topics. So here’s the first of what will be a series of blogs on memory and the ADHD brain.
In ADD Crusher™ Video I, I teach the power of using our unique ADHD way of seeing the world – visually and spatially – to stop losing and forgetting things. It’s prefaced by the fact that we adult ADDers so often lose and forget things because of our weak working memory. And this report, called simply, “Memory”, yields tons of scientific background for buttressing that weak memory.
In the last few decades, we’ve gone way beyond the simple notion of long- and short-term memory as its key types. We now distinguish four types of memory:
- Episodic: Ability to remember personal experiences – a recent phone conversation or a movie you saw last week.
- Semantic: Ability to store and receive general knowledge and facts – the number of days in a year…the names of the planets in our solar system.
- Procedural: Ability to learn skills that will then be performed automatically or with little conscious effort – like riding a bike or driving a car.
- Working: Ability to pay attention, focus and keep needed info in short-term memory, like a phone number or directions to a party.
As mentioned above, we ADDers suck at the latter type. But, as the Johns Hopkins report says, even if all your memory types are working well, “some memories will be stored and recalled more easily than others.” For instance, those with an emotional component (you’ll never forget where you were on September 11, 2001), or those that are recognized as most important. Or those related to something already stored. These three areas represent tricks Crusher teaches in both the videos and audio companions, and that we’ll recap perhaps in the next installment on memory. But meantime, here are some simple memory tips for ADHD offered or inspired by my stolen materials:
1. Say it out loud. We’ve all heard the trick for remembering names as “make sure you say, ‘Nice to meet you, ROBERT!!’ – you’ll be more likely to remember his name!” Well, this also applies to things you need to remember to do, e.g., “I will turn off the oven in five minutes!”
2. Visualize it. We ADDers tend to be visual-spatial thinkers, so when we associate something we need to remember with a visual or dimensional cue, we’re more likely to remember it. The obvious application is in remembering names: “Bob Taylor is a tailor with a sewing machine that bobs as it sews.”
3. Gamify it. More than anyone, we love to have fun, and it’s easy to create games around remembering things. For instance, you have a short list of items to get from the store. Create a game for remembering them. Maybe you’ll match each item to a part of your body. Or you’ll create a word out of the first letters of each item.
4. Don’t sweat it. Remembering things takes concentration, and concentration is made more difficult when we’re stressed. The more relaxed we are in approaching a task, a problem, or the need to remember something, the more powerfully our brain performs. So don’t tense up with worry about not remembering – just stay cool and get ‘er done.
I have a lot more to say about memory, and will do so in upcoming blogs. I also have a lot more magazines to steal from doctors’ offices – so I have to go now and make my next appointment.
P.S. If you haven’t yet heard of www.CrusherTV.com, I hope you’ll check it out. Each Monday night at 10pm we “air” another episode chock full of useful productivity tips and “brain hacks”, and our Guest Experts provide more great ideas. Tons of other benefits for members, including free group coaching sessions. Hope to “see” you there! ab