PA’s have an enormous amount of information swirling around their heads at any time. From major details like key client’s names and important deadlines to the ‘little things’ like the boss’s favourite coffee, a PA must heavily rely on her or his memory to perform their job at the highest possible level of efficiency.
Yet our memory often fails us at critical moments.
As we get older, it feels like our memory gaps just get bigger – and we’re more frequently faced with that terrible falling feeling where we grasp for information (what on earth is their name again?) and cannot come up with the answer.
Yet interestingly, it’s not just the seniors who are having ‘senior moments’: in a recent study, Millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000) proved to have much worse memories in many everyday task than those over 55.
Much of the blame for this forgetfulness in ‘young folk’ is placed firmly at the door of smartphones and the internet, which provide us with lightning-fast answers to questions that our brain used to have to recall on their own.
In short, our memories are getting lazy.
But never fear. For those of us who feel our memory skills are slipping or need improvement, help is at hand. There’s been plenty of research sunk into finding ways to improve memory skills and excel in your professional life.
If you concentrate fully and follow these few little tricks to assist your brain, you’ll find that your powers of recall at work will just bound from strength to strength:
- Pay Attention to one thing at a time. Don’t try to multi-task and expect your brain to store the information correctly- recent research has shown that humans can’t really multitask after all, and that when we are doing two things at once, information we hear or see is sent to the wrong bit of the brain, making it extremely difficult to recall. For instance, if you’re on the phone yet reading your computer screen at the same time, the information you learn from either source will be sent to the striatum of your brain rather than the hippocampus where it should go.
- Repeat After Me. Now that you’re paying attention, it’s time to add some clever tricks. Many of us know the old trick of saying someone’s name back to them 3 times in conversation in order to remember it- and this definitely works. However, you can also repeat things in your mind to the same effect.
- Find Patterns: Whether it’s an acronym, a way of breaking information and numbers down into memorable pieces, or a picture in your head, the human brain loves to find a pattern. You might even want to create an association!
- Write It Down. As soon as humanly possible, write the information you just learnt down. Whether it’s with a pen & paper or using one of the hundreds of Apps that are available, the old fashioned ‘To-Do List’ should be your saviour!
- Talk It Out. We remember information much more effectively if we discuss it with someone soon after learning it. This is one of the reasons that university students sit in seminars after lectures: in order to consolidate information they’ve just heard. Through discussion we also often learn more about a topic, and deeper understanding leads to better recall.
Our memories may not be infallible, but we can easily train our brains to perform better to succeed as phenomenal PA’s.