Create Better Mental Reminders With Visual Cues

When it comes to most of your daily tasks, a to-do list or app will help you remember everything. However, recent research suggests that for other less urgent tasks not on your list, some solid visual cues may help a little.

A study by Todd Rogers of Harvard Kennedy School and published in the journal Psychological Science recommends an approach called “reminders by association.” Basically, if you combine your tasks with a visual cue, you’re more likely to remember it. For example, in one test, participants were given coupons at a cafĂ© and asked to keep an eye on a specific toy on the counter that would remind them to use the coupon. Compared to the control group who had just been given coupons, more participants in the toy group did not forget to use them.

So how could you use this in your day to day life? First, researchers suggest preserving this memory trick for tasks and events that don’t have a set date, and where a written note or alarm clock on your phone isn’t ideal. Remember to use the coupon somewhere – a good example, but remember to buy diapers the next time you go to the store, or remember to ask your friend about something the next time he calls. Second, make sure the visual cue is attention grabbing and not something that blends in with its surroundings. Colorful objects and images stand out best. For example, if you want to remind yourself to refuel your car’s tires the next time you’re near that free-air gas station, you can give a visual cue using the turn signal, which is usually at the same corner. The next time you are distracted by his amazing moves, you will think, “Oh, it’s exhausting!” and finally do it. You can read more about the study at the link below.

Hacking memory with intent | Association for Psychological Science Through Science About Us


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