5 Tools to Help You Remember Everything
5 Tools to Help You Remember Everything. So, you’ve probably heard about mnemonics at some point in your life. If you haven’t, they’re mental devices that allow you to access hard-to-remember information in a sort of roundabout way. Take the acronym ROYGBIV for example. This silly-sounding name allows us to easily remember the order of the colors in the visible light spectrum. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.
Our brains aren’t wired in a way that makes remembering the order or arbitrary words easy, but they easily latch onto silly-sounding names. Essentially this acronym provides a pathway to a specific piece of information. Information that does exist in your brain, even if it’s hard to access directly. But building these sorts of mental pathways isn’t just useful for accessing information that’s already up in your head.
You can also build them to easily access information that you don’t know, and in doing so, you can greatly expand your brain’s capabilities. Someone who understood this concept exceptionally well was Henry Ford. Ford did not know all of the information that he needed to run his business himself, but he did know how to quickly get an answer to any question that he needed.
Now today, there are entire businesses that provide the access to experts like the ones that Ford relied upon back in his day. They’re called Expert Networks and learned all about them back in my MIS program in college. Other businesses, like hedge funds especially, often pay huge sums of money for yearly subscriptions to these types of networks. But of course, we have another tool at our fingertips, which is called Google.
Well, here’s the thing. Google is incredibly useful, yes, but it does have some limitations. The main one being that it’s a search engine, which means that it can only return results based on the terms that you feed it. Now sometimes, you don know what you’re looking for well enough to give it the accurate terms.
It’s the problem of re-access. How many times have you strumbled across a really useful article or video only to be unable to find it again later? It’s just like putting new information up in your brain, if you can’t access it again when you need it, then what good is it? Fortunately, Google is not the only tool out there. So today, what I wanna do is share some of the other tools and methods that I use to easily re-access information. Think of them as modern-day breadcrumbs to follow, except that these breadcrumbs don’t get eaten by birds so you don’t get eaten alive by a witch.
the first one that I’m gonna mention is YouTube playlists. If you go over to my channel, and you go the Playlist tab, you’re gonna see many publicly available playlists that I’ve made of my videos, but hidden underneath the surface, there are also dozens of unlisted playlists that I make for basically any topic that I’m interested in. Now with these playlists, I’m easily able to save anything that I wanna access later on. So whatever I’m interested in, be it rock climbing, or guitar pedals and signal chains, or making better videos, I will make a playlist for that topic and then I’ll save stuff to it as I come across it.
Now, that feature’s useful for anything on YouTube, but what about the rest of the internet? Well, for that there is a Pocket. It is a browser extension and also a set of mobile apps that allows you to save any webpage you want for later reading. Now, this is one of the nice things about pocket is that it’s very similar to the reader mode on the iPhone.
It strips out a lot of the extraneous elements of the website that you’re on and just gives you a nice article view which is very distraction-free. Additionally on their mobile apps, Pocket gives you the option of saving articles for offline access. So anytime I have a flight, I often go and download one of the articles that I’ve saved for later reading so I can access them while I’m on the plane. Now, I know several people who delete articles out of their Pocket once they’re done reading them, but that isn’t the way that I use it.
Essentially, for me, Pockets a way of saving anything I come across on the internet whether I’ve read it already or whether I want to access it in the future. It’s my main way of playing out these breadcrumbs, and I don’t worry about keeping things organized, I don’t use the tagging feature very often, I don’t delete things, I just make very liberal use of that save to pocket button in my Chrome browser, and that way I know if I find something useful, I’m gonna be able to find it again even if I forget the search terms that might bring it tome in a Google search.
Now, there is one place in particular on the internet besides YouTube where I don’t tend to use Pocket to save things, and that is Reddit. I’ll often save Reddit comments directly to my Reddit account. Over the past couple of years, I have found that Reddit is often a better source of information for certain purposes than blogs or videos. So this is true for a couple of different reasons. First and foremost, Redditlike many other social media sites has a very low barrier of entry to post.
People don’t need to buy a camera as they do on YouTube, people don’t need to learn how to set up a blog, they just need to make an account and they can write to their heart’s content. Now because of this, you often meet a larger and much more diverse group of people sharing their knowledge. These are coming from multiple different voices. Because it has a conversation style setup, Reddit encourages discussion, it encourages debate, and I often find the best answers several levels deep nested beneath the original comment.
So sometimes this debate is useful. Now, I know that I could easily save Reddit pages to Pocket just like any other article, but usually, I’m interested in saving a specific comment rather than the entire thread that it’s from. So yes, I could click the permalink button and save that in Pocket, but usually saving things to my Reddit account makes things easier because if I’m looking for something in the future, I usually at least know whether it was from a Reddit comment or a blog post, and if it was from a Reddit comment, I know that I can start from my profile instead of digging through Pocket. All right, so we talked about YouTube playlists, Pocket, and Reddit.
The next one I wanna talk about is screenshots. I take a lot of screenshots, especially when I’m watching YouTube videos. Saving an entire video to one of my playlists can be very useful, but sometimes I just want one frame for later reference. For example, I was recently watching a video about how to set up a specific order of guitar pedals, and they had this diagram of the signal chain in the video, so I screenshot that in case I need to reference it later on.
Now, every computer operating system out there has a built-in screenshot program. Now I am here to tell you that it is not good enough and that you can do better. So the program that I use is called Greenshot. It’s open-sourced and free on Windows, and incredibly full-featured. So then, it also exists on the Mac, but it costs about two bucks and doesn’t have quite as many features, though that being said, I still use it just because I like to use the same programs on each operating system if I can.
The main thing that I like about Greenshot is it allows me to set up multiple destinations for my screenshots. For example, I have mine set up to not only save each screenshot to a specific folder that’s in my Google Drive so I can access it from anywhere, but also save screenshots to my clipboard so I can easily paste them into Photoshop if I need them for a video, or I can pass them into Notion or Evernote for note-taking purposes.
Now in addition to that feature, I also like that it allows me to set up different shortcuts for taking a screenshot of the entire screen as well as also drawing a box around a specific region that I want to capture. Now, Greenshot is by no means the only screenshot program out there, so if you’re looking for an alternative, there is ShareX onWindows, Skitch for Mac, and then Monosnap for both platforms.
Note-taking and camera capture
It just leaves us with one more method that I wanna talk about which is trusty old notebooks and note-taking. So in addition to taking notes on individual books, I’ll often create specific notes in Evernote on things I’m trying to learn, as well. So if it’s a current interest, I usually bookmark those notes and add them to my shortcuts bar.
A few examples include my Japanese notes, my After Effects notes, which have different scripts that I use occasionally and different shortcuts that I like to reference and can’t always remember off the top of my head, and my notes for my live set up which I’m trying to build right now which has a lot of very different complicated gear that has to go in a specific order.
Now aside from just typing notes, I also make extensive use of the camera feature in Evernote. If I’ve got like a specific configuration of things or anything where just a visual reference would make much more sense than typing things out for a long period. I’ll take a picture of it, I’ll shove it in Evernote, and that way I can easily access it just as I can with text. Now, the one odd thing about my Evernote setup is that I don’t tend to use the Web Clipper function, which is essentially this browser extension that you can use to save articles and anything you want to your Evernote just like you can with Pocket.
So I know my friend Martin uses that all the time, especially for things like recipes, but I tend to keep articles and things like that in Pocket, and things that I kind of create myself in Evernote, but you kinda have to use what works for you. Now, one last way that I make sure that I can easily re-access information is by building a library, or rather, several libraries.
I have a physical one sitting on the bookshelf behind me, a digital one in my Kindle app, and another one made up of audiobooks. Now, you might think that it’d be hard to re-access specific information in an audiobook that’s hours long, but that’s not a problem if you’re listening through Audible since their app lets you set specific bookmarks at time stamps and even add notes to them.
Audible is also simply the best place to get audiobooks ranging from the best-sellers to more obscure titles on botany and music theory. I use audible almost every single day, especially now that it’s warm and I can bike more often.
If you’d like to give it a try, as well, you can go over to Audbile.com/Thomas or text Thomas to 500-500 on your phone to get a 30-day free trial. This month I’m gonna recommend Bill Bryson’s excellent A Short History of Nearly Everything. This is one of my favorite non-fiction books of all time, and even though it’s not on my list of essential books on my website, since it doesn’t deal with productivity or academics, I do think that everyone should read it.
Now, of course, you could go and get any other audiobook that you want and once you’re a member, you’re gonna get one new credit for another audiobook, plus access to two Audibleoriginals every single month that you cannot get anywhere else. So a library of audio workout and meditation programs to boot.
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