How can you never forget anything again?

Do you know what spaced repetition is? Mathan Griffel writes about this method of memorizing information on the Medium blog, explaining the difference between short-term and long-term memory and how you can easily and permanently memorize important facts, poems, quotes and foreign words.

Spaced repetition is a specific memorization technique that relies on what is known as the interval effect. The essence of the interval effect is that it is much easier to remember and learn something if you repeat what you want to remember over an extended period of time, rather than over a short period.

Let's try to imagine how memory works in general. Intuitively, we all understand the difference between short-term and long-term memory. If you really try, you can easily memorize a credit card number, a stranger's name, and even a few facts for a quiz within a few minutes. True, after 24 hours, you will most likely forget all this. This is short-term memory.

And long-term memory collects the basic facts of life - such as your own name, your phone number, the address where you live, etc. Information remains in long-term memory almost forever, or at least for a long time.

In fact, short-term and long-term memory are intertwined. Everything that remains in our long-term memory was once only part of our short-term memory. And it is the repetition of the same fact that helps move information from one type of memory to another. Every time you remember something, the information is embedded deeper into your long-term memory. Personally, I like to fantasize and imagine that this is due to the fact that the "neural pathways" in the brain become more trodden due to constant repetition.

Interestingly, the most efficient distribution of the amount of time it takes to memorize something is not linear, but exponential. When someone tells me their name for the first time, I usually remember it for about 5 seconds. If I repeat it to myself a couple of times, I will probably remember it for another 5 minutes. If I say this name, saying goodbye to a person, I will most likely remember him during the day. If we meet again the next day, I will remember him for a week. In general, they say that there are such intervals for memory: 5 seconds, 25 seconds, 2 minutes, 10 minutes, 1 hour, 5 hours, 1 day, 5 days, 25 days, 4 months and 2 years.

You can take a certain set of facts (for example, the 1000 most common words in French) and slowly learn them - 10 a day. You will have to repeat each word every few months to memorize them all indefinitely.

Bad news: no matter how good your school teachers were, if you don't brush up on your school knowledge at least once every couple of years, you will forget everything you knew.

The good news is that there are now many tools out there to help you master spaced repetition, such as the Anki app. In this application, you can create sets of cards yourself, which will contain the facts that you would like to remember. Every day the application will ask you to remember some of the facts, and you will evaluate how well you remember them. If you have already memorized a fact, then the application will not show you a card with this fact for the next six months. If you have difficulty remembering, the application will offer you this card again after a short period of time. I used this system to memorize the names of nearly 150 people over the course of several days.

At first, I got overly carried away and tried to memorize everything in the world, including different languages, information from books and even a method for memorizing long numbers, but now I actively use three sets of cards: quotes, poems and people. I create a card for every new person I meet, which reduces the number of awkward moments in future communication with new people. Knowing someone else's name helps to establish contact. After I memorized the name of everyone in my company, I was able to reach a new level of communication with many people, and knowing some quotes helps me to diversify the conversation.