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If you have a pen and paper handy, let’s do a little experiment.
Picture a cashew. Now pick up your pen and draw a little sketch of one, then put the drawing face down somewhere you can’t see it. We’ll come back to it later.
Yes, this is a weird way to start your week, I know. But there is a reason, I promise!
You’ve probably guessed by now that we’re playing a little ad hoc memory game. There is no shortage of mnemonic tricks you can use to remember things, but the three-act technique of picturing something in your mind, putting pen to paper to draw it, then looking at your drawing is a powerful memory trick that outperforms other “strong” mnemonic strategies when it comes to memory, according to a study published in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.
“We more or less established first that this is something people can do to improve their memory relative to the baseline task of just writing things out,” said Jeffrey Wammes, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of psychology at Yale and co-author of the study. “Not only that, drawing improves memory more than at least a few tasks that have been touted in the past as strong mnemonic techniques.”
In the study, Dr. Wammes and his co-authors, Melissa Meade and Myra Fernandes, compared memory retention techniques by asking participants to remember a specific word by writing it down or drawing it. They found that when it was time to recall the words, participants were far likelier to remember the words they drew over the ones they wrote down.
O.K., fine, so drawing a word helps you remember it. Not particularly helpful in everyday life.
But in further research, Dr. Wammes found that this works even on word definitions, pictures, and abstract thoughts and ideas.
“The effect is roughly the same size regardless of how concrete or abstract the word is,” he said. “So far we haven’t really found a stimulus set that it doesn’t apply to,” adding that even having as little as four seconds to draw the item still confers the benefits.
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Dr. Wammes said he can’t yet be positive why the effect of drawing something is so strong and so consistent, but he and his co-authors have two theories.
In that 2016 paper, they wrote that the act of drawing things out encourages “a seamless integration of semantic, visual and motor aspects of a memory trace.” Further, Dr. Wammes said, picturing something then physically drawing it forces us to focus on the defining aspects of an object — say, the differences between a tiger and a lion — which allows us to better recall it.
“Any time you add an additional form of processing to your learning, you’re going to get a benefit over and above what’s in the nature of the stimulus,” he said. “If you’re reading a list of things and trying to remember them, it’s going to be a lot more difficult than if you actively engage with each item on the list.”
It gets even better: As our memory naturally declines as we get older, the benefits of drawing things out can help us better retain new information.
In a study published this year from Ms. Meade, Dr. Fernandes and Dr. Wammes, the recall of younger adults was compared with older adults in a series of tests. Similar to the 2016 study, subjects were asked to draw, write out and list characteristics of a series of nouns. Younger adults outperformed older adults when it came to recall, but “drawing reduced age-related differences.”
In other words, drawing out the things we want to remember can be a powerful technique to combat our natural declines in memory, better even than repeatedly writing them down or listing characteristics and descriptors.
If this sounds familiar, the idea of drawing things is in somewhat in the same realm as the concept of a “memory palace.” To, ahem, refresh your memory: This is a technique that “involves associating the ideas or objects to be memorized with memorable scenes imagined to be at well-known locations, like one’s house or along a familiar walking route,” The Times wrote in 2016.
Now let’s return to what I asked you to do at the beginning of this article. Without looking, can you recall the word I asked you to draw?
Let me guess: You’re picturing it in your mind’s eye right now. (And maybe getting a little hungry for a snack.)
What’s your trick for remembering important stuff? Let me know on Twitter at @timherrera.
Have a great week!
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This week I’ve invited the writer Dana Sitar to let us all in on the secret to meaningful workplace chats.
Workplace chitchat is notoriously meaningless. Most of us waste opportunities for real connections with cookie cutter exchanges about the weather. As a shy introvert, I’m not naturally good at starting conversations, but I’ve found one simple question can always break through the doldrums of water cooler chat: “What’s keeping you busy this week?”
First, it’s an open-ended question. Your co-worker can’t respond just “yes” or “no” or brush you off with “fine.” It requires a unique and honest response.
Second, it lets them talk about themselves. More important, it lets them talk about something they — ideally — care about. Give people that permission, and watch how easily they suck you into meaningful conversations at the coffee maker and in the hallway throughout your workday.
The benefits to your career are plenty, too. You’ll forge a stronger trust with your co-workers because of deeper conversations. You’ll learn about work happening in areas of the company you otherwise don’t see. And you’ll learn about the sentiment toward that work — a natural addendum when someone explains a task. This knowledge makes you valuable to leaders at the company and can make you a more effective leader yourself.B:
篮月亮内部三个半波中特【秦】【璟】【丞】【捏】【了】【捍】【她】【的】【脸】，“【他】【们】【可】【能】【怕】【我】【对】【你】【居】【心】【不】【良】，【我】【会】【让】【他】【们】【接】【受】【我】【的】，【这】【件】【事】【你】【别】【管】，【安】【心】【养】【胎】。” 【秦】【浼】【妩】【点】【了】【点】【头】，【这】【件】【事】【她】【也】【不】【想】【管】，【怎】【么】【讨】【好】【岳】【父】【岳】【母】【是】【他】【的】【事】，【她】【操】【那】【么】【多】【心】【做】【什】【么】。 【怀】【孕】【嗜】【睡】，【和】【秦】【璟】【丞】【聊】【了】【一】【会】【儿】，【她】【就】【昏】【昏】【欲】【睡】【了】。 【秦】【智】【冯】【和】【蒋】【雅】【丹】【没】【睡】【多】【久】【就】【醒】【了】，【这】【段】【时】【间】【他】【们】
“【是】【谁】？！”**【和】【朱】【姝】【几】【乎】【异】【口】【同】【声】。 【白】【幼】【薇】【微】【窘】：“……【你】【们】【好】【歹】【小】【点】【声】。” **【立】【刻】【跑】【去】【门】【口】，【打】【开】【房】【门】，【警】【觉】【的】【张】【望】【左】【右】，【然】【后】【回】【身】【比】【了】【一】【个】“OK”【的】【手】【势】。 ——【安】【全】！ 【朱】【姝】【急】【切】【的】【问】【白】【幼】【薇】：“【薇】【薇】，【到】【底】【是】【谁】【设】【的】【圈】【套】？” 【白】【幼】【薇】【在】202【和】402，【两】【个】【房】【间】【上】，【各】【画】【一】【个】【圈】【圈】
【跟】【苏】【老】【爷】【子】【打】【了】【声】【招】【呼】【之】【后】【李】【晋】【便】【回】【去】【了】，【至】【于】【叶】【止】【珑】【两】【人】【还】【真】【就】【待】【在】【那】【里】【不】【走】【了】。 【回】【去】【开】【了】【车】【之】【后】，【李】【晋】【便】【带】【着】【萧】【玉】【如】【去】【了】【镇】【上】，【买】【了】【一】【些】【扫】【墓】【要】【用】【的】【东】【西】。 【李】【晋】【这】【一】【支】【在】【这】【边】【的】【人】【数】【并】【不】【多】，【扫】【墓】【都】【是】【一】【支】【一】【支】【去】【扫】，【所】【以】【往】【年】【都】【是】【李】【晋】【自】【己】【一】【个】【人】【或】【是】【萧】【玉】【如】【跟】【着】【他】【一】【起】【去】【扫】。 【萧】【玉】【如】【扫】【墓】【也】【奇】【怪】，
【说】【起】【冬】【补】，【很】【多】【人】【想】【到】【人】【参】、【鹿】【茸】，【或】【者】【是】【枸】【杞】、【当】【归】。【殊】【不】【知】，【有】【一】【味】【被】【很】【多】【人】【当】【作】【调】【味】【料】【的】【植】【物】【却】【是】【很】【好】【的】【补】【药】，【那】【就】【是】——【茴】【香】。篮月亮内部三个半波中特【调】【养】【身】【体】【不】【是】【一】【时】【半】【会】【能】【够】【完】【成】【的】，【江】【羽】【全】【部】【写】【在】【纸】【上】【交】【给】【颜】【书】【竹】【主】【要】【是】【担】【心】【颜】【书】【竹】【调】【养】【身】【体】【调】【养】【了】【一】【半】【自】【己】【的】【任】【务】【就】【完】【成】【了】【需】【要】【回】【去】【了】。 【为】【了】【防】【止】【这】【种】【事】【情】【的】【发】【生】，【江】【羽】【知】【道】【将】【所】【有】【的】【事】【项】【全】【部】【写】【在】【之】【上】，【包】【括】【那】【一】【阶】【段】【可】【能】【出】【现】【的】【问】【题】【和】【应】【对】【的】【方】【法】【都】【写】【在】【了】【方】【子】【上】。 “【这】【个】【就】【是】【药】【方】【了】，【回】【去】【之】【后】【让】【你】【家】
“【曾】【祖】【父】，【您】？” 【影】【儿】【真】【的】【不】【懂】【他】【的】【意】【思】【了】，【刚】【不】【是】【发】【怒】【了】【吗】？ “【影】【儿】，【逸】【辰】【会】【在】【星】【月】【宫】【小】【住】【一】【些】【时】【日】，【你】【多】【陪】【陪】【他】。” 【咦】？ 【怎】【么】【曾】【祖】【父】【的】【话】【锋】【变】【得】【那】【么】【快】？ “【你】【们】？” 【影】【儿】【的】【脑】【子】【转】【得】【也】【非】【常】【快】。 “【影】【儿】，【曾】【祖】【父】【跟】【你】【说】【实】【话】，【我】【没】【有】【想】【杀】【了】【逸】【辰】【这】【小】【子】。” “【那】【你】【们】【刚】【才】……”