8 Simple Ways To Improve Your Memory

15 Nov 2017 by Johanna Teo

Even with ample revision, some of us may find it hard to recall study material right before an exam. Here are 11 simple tips to improve your memory that actually work! 

Revise information in an engaging and meaningful manner

According to experts, the deeper you process information the more likely you are to remember it. For example, writing notes by hand instead of typing it out might take a longer time. But as such, it will allow your brain to process the information better. And during the process of taking notes, don’t blindly copy what the teacher is saying word for word. Instead, write it down in your own words; putting in the extra effort to rewrite the same information in your personal context will help you gain a deeper understanding of what’s being taught, and help you recall and understand better during revision. 

Give yourself time to study 

While many of us would be used to all-night cram sessions, ditch that bad habit and instead plan out a practical daily study schedule that will allow yourself to study, and test yourself on it afterwards. The routine of studying first then taking a practice exam to identify the gaps in your memory, then spending your next study session filling them and test yourself again, will help you to retain information and ensure you’ll remember it during crunch time. 

Start mind-mapping

An effective and efficient way to help your mind understand different subjects, the process of creating a mind map allows you to actively consolidate, review and engage with the topic at hand in a creative way. Having a visual map to help you physically see and understand the connection between each branch of information enables you to remember better too. For those who are brainstorming ideas, mind-mapping might come in handy as it helps you to gather your thoughts and quickly develop new ideas at a glance. 

Relate and associate

Credit: defsouldanik

There are many association techniques one can employ to retain information, but using personal association (the process of relating new information to something you already know) is a widely used method that doesn’t increase your amount of learning because you’re associating it with existing knowledge. For example, if you’re meeting someone called Daniel for the first time, immediately associate their name with something familiar like, Daniel Radcliffe from Harry Potter/ Daniel Kang from Wanna One, or imagine Daniel walking into a lion’s den (dan, geddit?), or even associate them with a friend you may know with a similar name. The same goes for numbers – you can relate certain numbers to dates which are important to you – and other topics because being able to draw up an association that you’re familiar increases the likelihood that you’ll be able to recall the new info in the future. 

Speak out loud

Apart from writing down your notes, you could try reading them out loud too. Studies have shown that remembering out loud (or even mouthing it) whether it’s revising for a test, or someone’s phone number etc. will help you recall it better after. 

Get a study buddy 

The next time you’re in a study group, try explaining what you’re revising to your friends without referring to your notes. Being able to talk to someone about what you’ve been studying helps you actively recall and understand the depth of your knowledge on the subject. Similarly, teaching your peers about what you’ve just learned helps to reinforce the knowledge.  

Live in the moment

To retain memory, your brain must be able to fully process it into your memory. Which serves as a valid reason why being distracted (on your phone) can affect memory retention. You may already know this, but when studying, eliminate all distractions (like your phone) and focus fully on the task at hand. 

Sleep away

While it may be hard to score a good snooze during crunch time, getting ample rest helps you perform better and retain mental alertness. Plus, while you sleep, the brain processes info you learn during the day and converts it from short-term to long-term memory, which means you’ll be better equipped to recall what you revised as compared to when you go without sleep.

Do you have any memory tips of your own? Share them in the comment section!

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Studies have proven that clutter is detrimental to mental and physical health, and in the long run can even compromise our satisfaction in life. Here are 10 efficient ways you can declutter your life and permanently keep it that way.  

#1 Lighten Up

It’s a no brainer; how do you live a clutter-free life if you’re literally surrounded with stuff? While it’s a pain having to sort, pack and dump the things you don’t need, it’s a necessary step that’ll have you well on your way to a clean and organised living/workspace. When going through the clutter, arrange your unwanted items into three main categories: stuff you can sell, donate/hand down or throw away. Why waste your old textbooks when you could always give them to your juniors or flip them for extra pocket money? 

#2 Have a place for everything

When you’ve decided what you should keep, make sure you have a proper place to keep each item. A drawer for your random electronic gadgets, a special box for your mementos, or even that specific shelf space where your skincare and cosmetics should return to – having a dedicated place for each belonging makes it easier for you to tidy up, and realise when you’re repeating the bad habit of piling up too much stuff. 

#3 Establish dedicated storage 

With that being said, it’s only realistic to cater for the inevitable accumulation of unnecessary items. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day. By portioning out a dedicated space for clutter (like a drawer or anything else you prefer) and containing your mess to only that area, you can avoid cluttering up the rest of your neatened up space with more junk. And at best, you’ll learn how to work within the limitations and at best, eventually cut down on your hoarding habits. 

#4 Learn the art of putting things away 

Whether it’s tidying up your workspace, washing dirty dishes or even folding the laundry, many of us opt to put these chores off as the evidence of your messiness (and laziness) pile up. Eventually, it takes over everything and cleaning up seems like an insurmountable task that’ll take forever to complete. To avoid that dreadful situation, take 10 minutes out of each day to tidy up and put things back where they belong, it’ll save you much more effort in the long run! 

#5 Embark on the two-minute challenge

Point 4 mentioned the 10-minute clean up, but try adopting this two-minute habit while you’re at it: if a random task takes two minutes to complete, do it. You’ll find that this rule is applicable to micro tasks like taking out the trash, re-packing your school bag for the next day, making the bed, etc. Taking two minutes out of your entire day to neaten up doesn’t seem so bad, does it? 

#6 Don’t give junk a nesting spot 

Setting down empty cups on a random shelf, saving unwanted receipts in your wallet, shoving random junk into your bag while making mental reminders to clear your bag after… giving your clutter a resting spot is a huge part of why your life is filled with it. Start making a conscious effort to stop leaving your junk everywhere and you’ll be good to go – straight to the bin it goes!

#7 Stop buying things you don’t need

The concept is simple – your belongings back home won’t accumulate if you don’t add on to it. Before you roll your eyes at this tip, take a moment of self-reflection: how many times have you bought something you already own and probably don’t need? If you have trouble sticking to this rule, try challenging yourself to toss out or donate something you already own, the next time you purchase something. 

#8 Go paper-free 

While living in the digital era means using a largely reduced amount of paper as compared to generations past, you’d be surprised at how much paper can still be accumulated, whether it’s random scribblings from previous assignments or bills sent in the mail. Cutting down your paper consumption means a less cluttered workspace, and a step towards a greener environment. 

#9 Keep clothes off the floor 

The only place your clothes belong, is in your wardrobe. Not on your floor, the foot of your bed, or that random chair in your room that was meant for light reading sessions. While it’s easy to commit the mistake of leaving your clothes where you toss ’em, having to clear them is a hassle that can easily be avoided. The next time you’re figuring out what to wear, remember to hang them back up! 

#10 Build good habits 

Honestly, the best way to live a clutter-free lifestyle is to build good habits. Whether it’s adopting a weekly cleanup routine, learning not to hold on to meaningless items, exercising strict discipline or even to cull the urge of buying things you don’t need (and save money in the long run), embracing positive practices are your best bet. 

What are your tips to maintaining a clutter-free life? Share your tried-and-tested tips with us!

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5 Micro Tips To Ace Your Exams

9 Nov 2017 by Isabel Pang

With exam prep already being such an arduous task, you don’t want to pile on unnecessary stress. Study smart and study hard too, with these these effective study tips will help you get way more out of your intense mugging sessions.

Stay Off Your Phones

A new research from the University of Texas found that the
mere presence of your smartphone could have 
a ‘brain-drain’ effect. Our itchy fingers instinctively reach for our gizmos even when no one’s calling. We’re not saying you should go fully off the 
grid, but try putting it on airplane mode and tucking it away during your next study session, occasionally allowing yourself to take a peek during coffee breaks. Out of sight, out of mind!

Dress For Success

It seems like we should start taking the saying 
‘put on your thinking 
cap’ quite literally. A
group of researchers from Northwestern University found that those who turned up for
 a test in a doctor’s coat 
fared better than those who donned a painter’s coat. While we aren’t suggesting that you dress as a doctor for your exams (you could if you’re that committed), how you dress certainly has an effect on your performance – so ditch the sweatpants and go geek-chic instead!

De-clutter Your Workplace

We promise we weren’t forced to put this in by our mums, but clearing up your messy table and organising your stationery can really help to put you in the right frame of mind. Rather than spending half of your studying time hunting for stuff, get everything in place so you won’t waste time playing hide-and-seek. That long-forgotten textbook buried under a pile? It’s right there. Need a protractor? Whip it out
in a second. It’s the same reason why we get drawn to neatly arranged #Flatlays on Instagram – our brains respond positively to tidiness and order.

Let Down Your Hair

Girls, this one’s a tip 
just for you. Studies by researchers from the Jefferson Headache Center at the Thomas Jefferson University found that tying your hair up could result in what’s known as a ‘ponytail headache’. A tight bun could be tugging on your scalp’s connective tissue – and coupled with some intense frowning
and concentration – could cause painful headaches that will hinder your ability to focus. So free up that bun, and let your hair down. You’ll find yourself in a much better headspace to revise for your examinations and conquer that Ten Year Series.

Turn Up The Volume

Listening to music while studying has always been a debatable topic, but it all really boils down to your musical preferences and study habits. While classical music is known to have the ‘Mozart effect’ – which helps to bolster cognitive performance – it’s more common to
see students memorising notes to Ariana Grande or finalising your essay to Ed Sheeran. If classical music is not your thing,
we suggest turning to
an acoustic playlist of
your favourite pop tracks for minimal distraction instead.

This article was adapted from the August 2017 issue of Teenage.

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11 Unnecessary Things Millennials Splurge On

7 Nov 2017 by Johanna Teo

Can’t seem to get your bank balance growing despite your efforts at avoiding splurges on big ticket items? These 11 money-wasters might just be the culprit. 

#1 Paying For In-app Purchases

While most may be hesitant at shelling out for paid apps, the same can’t be said for in-app purchases. Whether it’s buying pretty filter packs in that “free” image-editing app or paying for extra credit in a Freemium/free-to-play mobile game, these dollars trickle away quickly and silently. And chances are, you wouldn’t track how much you’ve spent! The next time you’re tempted to buy something in-app, take an equal amount of money out of your wallet and put it away in savings. Yes, even if you have to ride out those pesky in-app advertisements! 

#2 Splurging On Subscriptions 

With paid subscription services like Netflix and Spotify becoming an essential in modern millennial lives, spending money on such platforms seem inevitable. While the best situation would be to not spend money on ’em at all, we suggest taking full advantage of promos and offers available, think student rates, family bundle packs, sign up discounts, etc. to split the cost. Every once in awhile, take inventory of your subscriptions and cancel off any unused or under-utilised ones. In addition, don’t forget about those free trial periods where you have to provide credit card details upon signing up; don’t fall prey to sneaky charges on auto-pay services you don’t even use. 

#3 Shelling Out For Extra Data

If keeping within our data limits is one of the top millennial struggles, then paying the price for it must be the most painful. Thankfully, our local telcos have made it slightly easier on our pockets with competitive data plans that offer deals like unlimited weekend surfing and affordable data plan upsizes. With that being said, avoid additional costs altogether by limiting data usage in Wi-Fi free zones, and remembering to turn off any background apps that might be siphoning data even when unused. 

#4 Not Paying Your Bills On Time 

For those who have started paying your own bills, it’s best to adopt the healthy practice of paying for your bills whenever it’s due, instead of procrastinating and incurring late charges when you eventually forget about it. The only thing more unnecessary than splurging on unwanted items, is paying for late fees and additional interest. If it helps, either apply for giro payments or set calendar alerts to remind yourself to pay up. 

#5 Getting Your Food Delivered

If you have an account on every food delivery service available and are frequently ordering food in, it’s time to nip that habit in the bud because your laziness isn’t worth the delivery fee and marked up menu cost. Let’s put it this way: most services only deliver food that’s within your own neighbourhood anyway, so why not get off your butt and tapau it yourself? 

#6 Heading Out To Eat

Following in a similar vein, eating out might be the easiest way to get your meals settled but it definitely isn’t the most economically-friendly nor healthy option. We’d suggest heading home for dinner or even prepping your own lunchbox for school. If you find everyday cooking a hassle, there are one-day recipes that offer easy meals you could eat all week. Your wallet and body will thank you in the long run! 

#7 Grocery Shopping While Hungry

Packing your own food involves heading to the grocers – the next time you’re headed there, ensure you’re going on a full stomach. It’s been proven that people tend to purchase more items when they’re hungry, so don’t fall into the trap of buying food you simply don’t need!   

#8 Buying Beverages 

It may be easier to spend a dollar or two on bottled water and other beverages instead of lugging your own water bottle around while you’re out, but these little costs still add up in the long run. The next time you’re packing your own food, remember to slip your water bottle into your bag! Additionally, instead of heading to Starbucks for your coffee fix, consider either brewing your own or opting for the cheaper (but equally delicious) kopi peng? 

#9 Shopping At A Sale 

Newsflash! Just because you bought a sale item at a drastically marked down price doesn’t mean you’re actually saving. Unless it’s an absolutely necessity, try resisting the temptation of buying something you don’t really need… 

#10 Paying For Something You Can Do Yourself 

From getting manicures to getting your food delivered to paying someone to do your homework (we’re just kidding on the last one), it kinda makes no sense to splurge on things you could easily do yourself. And as you get older, you’ll find that getting into the habit of spending unnecessary money to get stuff done for you, literally wouldn’t pay off. As much as possible, stick to doing things yourself! 

#11 Buying Low Quality Items 

This point may seem a bit ironic because good quality items naturally come with equally great prices – but sometimes, it’s worthwhile to invest in pricier items if that could mean saving more in the long run. Whether it’s good quality clothes or a pricy gadget from a trustworthy brand, avoid settling for cheaper options that’ll conk out in no time. 

Featured image: Matthew Henry on Burst

What are your spending vices? Share your woes in the comment section! 

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If you still find your grades falling short even after hitting the books diligently, you might be taking the wrong approach. Take this short quiz to find out the best study method for you! 

  1. You open your new textbook and hope to see ____ to help you understand topics better:
    a) pictures
    b) extensive text
    c) diagrams and charts

  2. When you’re bored in class, you tend to:
    a) doodle
    b) sing or hum a song stuck in your head
    c) fiddle with a pen

  3. Your favourite pastime is:
    a) watching TV and movies
    b) listening to the latest hits and gossiping with your BFFs
    c) exercising and doing sports

  4. You’re likely to get in trouble with your teacher for:
    a) drawing on my assignments and textbooks
    b) talking during the lesson
    c) fidgeting and distracting others

  5. During revision of your school work, you prefer to:
    a) draw out mind maps
    b) get a friend to ask you questions and answering them out loud
    c) re-write notes word for word to memorise them better

  6. Your dream occupation would be:
    a) a painter, architect or artist
    b) a radio DJ or musician
    c) a sportsperson

  7. When in class, you would most likely get distracted by:
    a) sounds coming from outside the class
    b) passersby 
    c) having to stay at your desk for the entire lesson

If you got…

Mostly As: Visual Learner

As a visual learner, you tend to remember what you see (like power point presentations or graphs) over what you hear (your lecturer teaching), and you prefer reading and writing over listening to someone explain your study material. When making notes, try including lots of colour with highlighters to help you remember key points. And aside from creating mind maps, visual learners can also try to draw out the images that come to mind (as opposed to simply jotting down concepts) when studying a certain subject topic to help you better visualise and retain information. 

Mostly Bs: Aural Learner

Listening to details comes easily to you, and your strength is picking up on keywords that your teacher would point out. Make it a self-reminder to pin point the essential information and repeat them to yourself out loud during your revision sessions. In addition, get permission to audio-record your lectures or tutorials – they’ll likely come in handy during crunch time when you need to remember that exam tip mentioned in class!

Mostly Cs: Kinaesthetic Learner

There’s no cause for concern if you fall under the category of a Kinaesthetic Learner. Being one means you’re likely able to learn better with some movements or activity involved, and are elaborate in explaining academic theories by using hand gestures. You’re more receptive to practical examples rather than theoretical, which means you should try experimenting or acting out scenarios to grasp a particular subject better as well.

Which type of learner are you? Tell us in the comment section! 

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