Study secrets: 5 hacks the world’s most proficient learners use to retain information

Many people assume there’s little they can do about their “bad memory.” However, your memory is far more malleable than you think.

The ability to retain information is a skill you can learn. Once you do, you will see benefits not just in the educational sphere but in your productivity levels and many other aspects of life. Read on for five powerful study hacks that will transform your mind into a sponge for useful information.

Study secrets1. Set the scene

Numerous studies have demonstrated the link between our sense of smell and our ability to recall information and events. If you’ve ever smelled a perfume, the first blooms of Spring, or fresh cinema popcorn and gotten flashbacks from your childhood, you’ll understand the power of this connection. 

When it comes to information retention, you can hack this sensory connection by using specific scents when you study. An essential oil diffuser is an ideal tool for this as it will completely fill your study space with your desired scent. As a bonus, peppy aromas like peppermint and eucalyptus can boost your clarity and motivation, putting you in the right frame of mind for absorbing information. 

2. Use exercise strategically

Research has found that doing 20 minutes of aerobic exercise before sitting down to study or taking an exam can improve your overall performance. Of course, it doesn’t have to be precisely 20 minutes. That was just the time chosen for the study. You can fit these findings into your schedule by starting each study session with a quick, light workout. If you’re fitting a few hours of learning into a single day, space each session apart with short fitness breaks. 

3. Condition your memory with treats

There’s no getting around the fact that building your ability to retain information takes work. To encourage yourself to get stuck into it, there’s nothing wrong with laying out some treats. Though we don’t recommend gorging on junk food, a bit of chocolate here and there never hurts anyone. You could also consider things like a swim at the beach, a relaxing massage, or a few chapters of a good book as rewards for putting in the work. 

4. Teach and be taught

Enlist the help of a study group or even just friends or family members who have an interest in what you’re learning. Then get together and share the information you’ve gathered each week. By teaching what you’ve learned to others, you’re far more likely to lock it into your own memory. By allowing others to teach you what they’re learned on the topic, you gain new perspectives and angles you may not have discovered by yourself. The resultant discussion will likely also be enlightening. 

5. Immerse yourself

If you truly want to become a master in a certain niche, it may be time to dive fully into the subject matter. If, for example, you want to learn Spanish, you can swap English language TV shows and films for Spanish films, shows, and telenovellas. Find some good Spanish podcasts for beginners, look for easy Spanish books, join relevant social media and community groups – you get the drift! 

There is a wealth of information out there, presented in all sorts of different formats. So, whatever you’re wanting to learn, you have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the material. 

It takes effort to improve your memory, and for best results, you need to make it a lifelong project. Though this may sound like a lot of work, the rewards are so great that you’ll be glad you took these first steps.