Brain facts – How to remember to remember?

“If the human brain were so simple that we could understand it, we would be so simple that we couldn’t.” (Emerson M. Pugh)

Forgetting is human

Did you know that we loose about 50% of all information we receive within the first hour? And after one day we forget 70% of the information.

Isn’t that shocking?

Just imagine all the presentations, meetings, trainings, lessons, seminars you have attended in your life, not to mention all the books and newspaper articles you have read…..all wasted time, energy and money, so it seems. Gone with the wind, at least most of the information.

Above-mentioned figures are based on the research results of the German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus* (1850 — 1909) who pioneered the experimental study of memory, and is known for his discovery of the forgetting curve and the learning curve.

For really important information it is a different curve by the way.

Not convinced? OK, let’s try this: What where the top 5 things mentioned during the last  training session or presentation you attended? Do you remember?

I know I wouldn’t, not if I hadn’t taken notes during the session and went through them the same evening end the next day again. Ideally I also read through my notes about one week after the session, in order to increase the chances that the information will be saved in my long-term memory drive.

And I even found a better way of remembering new things: I just tell others about them! By doing so I not only do myself a favor but also teach others something new. Win win for everybody!

For me it works best if I tell at least two different people about my learnings, preferable the same day I learned about them. Usually I call friends I know would appreciate to learn about the topic in question. Or I just tell the first person I meet after my information boost: “Do you know what I have learned today?….”. Or I write a blogpost about it.

Well, do you know what I have learned today?

  • We only remember about 20% of what we read,
  • 30% of what we hear,
  • 40% of what we see,
  • 50%of what we say,
  • 60% of what we do and
  • 90% of what we see, hear, say and do.

That’s why telling people is so important!

What have you learned today?


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