Hacking Memory to Follow Through with Intentions
According to a study published in Psychological Science a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, new research suggests that you can link everyday tasks to specific cues to help you remember what you are supposed to do. You won’t have to use the excuse, “I forgot” nearly as much. It seems that many of the reminders we use in our lives don’t end up reminding us at the right time or in the right way to follow through on our good intentions.
“Our results suggest that people are more likely to follow through on their good intentions if they are reminded to follow through by noticeable cues that appear at the exact place and time in which follow through can occur,” said one researcher.
These cues in the brain don’t rely on technology and are environment-based and can help you remember what you want – when and where you want, so you can follow through.
The study was designed so participants who were taking an hour-long computer test were told that in addition to being compensated for their time they could also have $q donated to a food bank – but only if they picked up a paper clip when they collected their payment. Some of the individuals saw a second message that said they would see an elephant statue sitting on the counter where they collected their payment as a reminder to pick up a paper clip, while the rest of the people just saw a message thanking them for their participation.
This contextual clue certainly increased the participant follow through as 74 percent of the individuals picked up the paper clip in the first group who were told of the elephant statue, while only 42 percent of the other group picked up the paper clip.
Importantly, the researchers note, a reminder doesn’t work if the individual doesn’t notice it. They also said that the distinctiveness of the contextual clue is significant. For instance, a stuffed alien from Toy Story at a register to remind you to use a coupon as opposed to just a reminder to use a coupon.
These contextual clues in our environment can help us follow through on our good intentions day in and day out.
Razi Berry, Founder and Publisher of Naturopathic Doctor News & Review (ndnr.com) and NaturalPath (thenatpath.com), has spent the last decade as a natural medicine advocate and marketing whiz. She has galvanized and supported the naturopathic community, bringing a higher quality of healthcare to millions of North Americans through her publications. A self-proclaimed health-food junkie and mother of two; she loves all things nature, is obsessed with organic gardening, growing fruit trees (not easy in Phoenix), laughing until she snorts, and homeschooling. She is a little bit crunchy and yes, that is her real name.