A great way of developing a skill or retaining knowledge is through repetition or stored routine.
Consider how we learn phone numbers, song lyrics or the skills required to drive a car or ride a bike? And how they become hard wired into our memory. Not ridden a bike for 5 years? You may be a bit rusty to start with but you can ride again (fairly) safely after only a few minutes. How amazed are you when that song comes on that you’ve not heard since you were at college but you can still remember most of the words and how do you remember those phone numbers?
As a skill is practiced or rehearsed over days and weeks, the activity becomes easier and easier while naturally forcing the skill to a subconscious level where it becomes permanently stored for recall and habitual use at any time. We have to repeat to remember.
Once a memory is created, it must be stored (no matter how briefly). Many experts think there are three ways we store memories: first in the sensory stage; then in short-term memory; and ultimately, for some memories, in long-term memory. Because there is no need for us to maintain everything in our
The creation of a memory begins with its perception: The registration of information during perception occurs in the brief sensory stage that usually lasts only a fraction of a second. It’s your sensory memory that allows a perception such as a visual pattern, a sound, or a touch to linger for a brief moment after the stimulation is over.
It is possible to increase this capacity somewhat by using various memory strategies. For example, a ten-digit number such as 8005840392 may be too much for your short-term memory to hold, but divided into chunks, like a telephone number, 800-584-0392 it can stay in your short-term memory long enough for you to dial the telephone. Likewise, by repeating the number to yourself or multiple uses, you can keep resetting the short-term and even move the number into long-term memory.
Important information is therefore gradually transferred from short-term memory into long-term memory. The more the information is repeated or used, the more likely it is to eventually end up in long-term memory, or to be “retained.” (That’s why studying helps people to perform better on tests.) Unlike sensory and short-term memory, which are limited and decay rapidly, long-term memory can store unlimited amounts of information indefinitely.
People tend to more easily store material on subjects that they already know something about, since the information has more meaning to them and can be mentally connected to related information that is already stored in their long-term memory. Hence, someone who has an average memory may be able to remember a greater depth of information about one particular subject including work related information.
To create enough closely associated repetitions that drive a newly strengthened skill into a subconscious, automatic mode, the skill training should be delivered over multiple days each week and over at least a three-month period.
Following on from repeat to remember, find out about how we forget and our curve of forgetting.
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