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Tips and Tricks to Help Retain Knowledge

Every day we are bombarded with an avalanche of news, articles, advertisements, social media posts and more. Our families and friends email and text us at all hours. The amount of visual, aural, and emotional stimulation to our brains is simply staggering—and seems to be increasing all the time.

So how do you help your employees screen out all of this stuff while they are at work, so they can focus, retain the knowledge they need, and improve their memory, thus becoming more productive and effective at their jobs?

Here are some great tips and tricks to pass on:
1. Pick a Place

Remember how in school it helped to study at the same desk? The same thing works in the office. Even if your company features an open workspace where employees aren’t assigned to specific desks or other work stations, you’ll find that employees will focus better and remember more if they return to the same spot day after day for specific tasks or projects.

2. Work for a While

Working in chunks of time is the best way to stay engaged with a task. This engagement helps employees learn information and retain that knowledge even when all kinds of other things are demanding attention. While the optimal amount of time varies from person to person, clusters of about thirty minutes of work is the best way to organize your workday to achieve the most productivity.

3. Then Take a Break

We all have limited attention spans, and there is a point at which staring at the same computer screen for longer and longer periods of time will result in less and less productivity. The solution is easy: encourage your employee take a break. Walk around the office. Get a glass of water. Listen to a favorite song. Engage in a little stretching. Just ask your employees to do something else for a few minutes every half hour and you’ll find that their knowledge retention will drastically improve.

4. Use All Senses

Tell your employees this: when you really want to remember something, make use of all your senses at the time you are receiving the information. So don’t just listen carefully during a meeting. You should also take notes—and review them later. Notice the scent of the coffee in your mug; when you associate other senses with specific information, you retain that knowledge better. You might even want to discuss the meeting with colleagues to help you remember more.  Howard Earl Gardner, a developmental psychologist and professor at Harvard University, believes that we learn in multiple ways and that it is useful, whenever possible, to combine several ways of processing information if we truly want to retain it.

5. Practice Mnemonics

Encourage your employees to create memory aids like acronyms or rhymes that will help them remember important information. Mnemonics are especially useful for lists of items or steps in a specific process.

6. Teach Someone Else

One of the best ways to ensure that your employees retain knowledge is to ask them to teach it to someone else. If one employee attends a training session, have that employee teach what he or she learned at the session to the rest of the team. Not only will the expectation of the teaching cause the employee to pay attention more and take better notes, but preparing to share the information will help the employee really learn and understand the material. This is because the employee will need to summarize what happened at the training session, be prepared to answer questions about it, and maybe even give a hands-on demonstration.

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There is no question that absorbing and retaining important knowledge for work is difficult. But will the six tips and tricks above it can be done. So remember: pick a place, work for a while, take a break, use all your senses, practice mnemonics and teach someone else.