The foundation of all capacity:
Concentration and memory
In more and more professions, the ability to concentrate is becoming a decisive performance criterion. But in private life, too, the highest level of attention is increasingly necessary in order not to get lost in the complexity of life’s environment.
This is the only way to control risks and achieve goals. The ability to remember must be added. Not to be able to act as a memory acrobat, but to be able to act.
The impacts of poor concentration are particularly obvious in the immediate effects of certain types of sports. Just a tiny lapse in concentration is all it takes to lose the split seconds that are decisive for winning or losing. The chance to score is missed or a fall means the end of a game – or a career.
Increase your awareness!
Fully focus your thoughts, senses, feelings, movements on something and forget every bit of the rest of the world around you. If you are unable to do this, you will make more mistakes that someone who can. This is reason enough to improve your concentration and your memory.
Read the text below out loud, really loudly, as though you were reading to an audience:
“The most important skill for benefiting from the knowledge, insights and experiences of other people is the ability to read! The wisdom of humankind is laid down in writing. We do not have to experience everything first hand. We do not have to reinvent the wheel or repeat the mistakes of our ancestors from generation to generation. Instead we can “get smart” through reading.”
No slip of the tongue? Read through in one go? Without stuttering? Did you succeed in reading aloud as if you were the announcer — let’s say — for the “Tagesschau”? No? Then read aloud until you have managed it without mistakes and in one flow! Get a friend to record the whole thing so that you can listen to your “reading” self-critically afterwards. Ask your friend for feedback! Find more texts that you can use to practice reading aloud further. Increase the length of the texts.
Take an essay or newspaper article of about two pages DINA4 and written with the font Georgia in the size 14 pt, whose content interests you. And also a pencil. Work through this article/essay as follows:
Mark the substance of the text with the pencil by underlining or circling; in the margin, weight the importance of the marked statements with one or more strokes or exclamation points. Be ‘disrespectful’ to the text: intervene ‘ruthlessly’ with the pencil, no matter who the author is!
Take a notepad and write down your comments, questions, insights, and experiences about the markers as they come to mind.
When I was in college, I started by writing down what I had read in an abstract after I had marked it, and then adding anything that came to mind.
Then I made notes of what questions I wanted to pursue further in connection with the topic, what I wanted to keep in mind as a conclusion, and what, if anything, I wanted to do about it.
Concentrating while you read
means taking a close look!
In the text below, which describes the process of active reading in more detail, some of the punctuation is missing or appears in the wrong place. Find the mistakes!
“The words or passages, that make up the substance of the text can be marked in a more or less differentiated way, if one proceeds less differentiated, then one underlines only the words and text passages, which seem important to one.
If you want to work up a text in Detail, you have to distinguish between
- between statements of fact and statements of opinion,
- between passages that he agrees with from his own insight and experience, And those that are new to him or with which he disagrees,
- between passages that raise questions and doubts and those that are immediately convincing,
- between passages that concern him directly and those that are far from him,
- between passages for which he can immediately think of examples and those which he cannot place in his horizon of experience.
The markings must be correspondingly differentiated:
- Underlining with colored pencils,
- framing as ellipses and rectangles,
- numerical codes
- however, it must be clear and consistent. all associations that come to mind are written in the margin. These are experiences, additional facts, examples, own opinions, hints, questions, further keywords, Names and and and”.
Text passages in which a punctuation mark is missing or incorrectly placed can be noticed if the sentence construction is clearly understood: subject, predicate, object, main clause, subordinate clause, lists, etc. Both punctuation marks and capitalization are used to help understand a text. Understanding texts as well as writing texts require the correct use of language. If one has doubts, one should consistently always consult reference books.
Everyone should create their own “fitness program” to improve their concentration. It makes sense to choose exercises that are useful in terms of content. Then one has double profit: improvement of the concentration and increase of his knowledge.
The wealth of our knowledge and our experiences
We do not learn through reading and writing alone. But if you only learn through the spoken word or primarily restrict your learning to your own experiences, to observation and imitation, you will not be able to become part of the complex societies of our time.
Inadequate reading and writing skills force people into the margins of our society. When young adults realize that they have languagerelated deficits, they need to close these gaps. Otherwise, they will quickly end up in the margins of society.
Texts are a means of transporting information and opinions. We surf the internet, we read newspapers and watch and listen to television news in order to experience new things, in order to find out what is going on in the world and in order to learn about other people’s attitudes about the events and processes of current affairs.
Since we have a certain amount of prior knowledge and also have our own opinion, we file the content we have absorbed into the knowledge and opinion areas already established in us. For the most part, we absorb what interests us and what corresponds to our prejudices. Our interests and our opinion control our attention, our concentration and our memory.
A good memory requires alert senses. For this reason, we train our concentration on a regular basis, and we have to invest the same amount of effort to keep our memory fit. Our memory keeps the components of our knowledge and experience at hand that we need for coping with our current tasks in a focused manner.
Most people’s memories are geared toward images. We distinguish between short-term memory and long-term memory. Brain research conducted in recent years has shed a great deal of light on the prerequisites and mode of operation of the organic equipment for human thinking. This helps to recognize the given potential and to use it with a methodology adapted to the particular need.
Our memory allows us to be capable of taking action
People with one or more impaired senses or who are missing one or more of their senses and have to compensate for the loss with the other senses have demonstrated the extraordinary perceptual performance that can be developed by the individual senses. Good perceptual abilities correspond to a good memory. Our perceptions are processed in the brain. Stored in our memory, they provide orientation and are the prerequisite for taking action.
Whatever knowledge and skills are not immediately available through ongoing use and are not retrievable for the case at hand must be quickly refreshed or acquired. We have to be able to address new tasks based on our existing store of knowledge and experience from the highest possible level. We can only establish and maintain this high level through ongoing training.
Take foreign languages, for example. Languages related to our native language are relatively easy to learn because so much is similar. The better your command of your native language, the more quickly you will be able to pick up a new language.
Things are more difficult when the foreign language is only distantly related to your native language. But even when you learn this type of language, you never start from scratch. This is because no matter what the language family, they all share the same basic phenomena of human existence, such as eating and drinking.
The better we have familiarized ourselves with the circumstances of our civilization and culture, the more easily we can negotiate the territory in which a foreign language is spoken.
No matter what you do to develop and expand your scope of action, the key principle involves acquiring basic skills and keeping them up. For artists and elite athletes, it goes without saying that they have certain exercises that they have to perform every day. In fact, this is true for everyone.
As with pianists and singers as well as with gymnasts and figure skaters, you start with the compulsory exercises and only then do the freestyle.
Can you rely on your memory?
I’d like to share a little story:
“The romantic atmosphere of winter. The glow of the fire emits a cozy warmth. At the entrance to the cave, icicles glitter in the sun. In the homey cozy down comforters, two lovers move apart. Sunlight beckons them to come outdoors.
Out of the bedclothes, out into the glistening light. They stretch their arms toward the sun. They throw themselves into the snow, which flies about like dust. At the beavers’ lodge, they take a sunbath. Then they traipse through the mottled light of the forest, visit the bear and banter with the moose.
Back in their winter cave, they stoke the warming fire. They close up the entrance with ice blocks. The hill of ice and snow has a yellowish red shimmer in the night. Soft singing conveys love and happiness. Snow begins to fall and covers the traces of the day.
A lone wolf senses the winter happiness and howls in the night.”
Now cover the text or move it to where you cannot see it. Write down all the words that you are able to remember. Now put the words into the order in which they appeared in the story.
Answer the following questions:
- What feelings did the story trigger in you?
- What images do you have in mind?
- And which passages of words in the story?
- What words do you connect to what images?
Write down the story in your own words. Compare your version with the original text.
Now copy the text and format it with your computer. Select a font type and size that appeals to you and fits the story. Other ways to embellish the text: using different colors for the text, paragraphing, bolding, italicizing, etc.
Once you have edit and formatted the text, memorize the text! Sentence by sentence. Before you move to a new sentence, repeat the sentences you have already learned. Resonate in the feelings that the story evokes in you. Bask in the images that you see in connection with the words.
Mark the words that you have trouble remembering. Work your way through the text at least up to the words “flies about like dust”. Make it easy, laid back but with stamina. How was it? It’s possible!
How to raise the level of difficulty
Advertising texts are prepared using everything that graphic design has to offer so that we can remember them without any great effort. Why shouldn’t we use the same tools to train our memories? This can make memorization fun.
Look for texts that you want to prepare and then learn by heart. In addition to longer texts that you would like to have at your disposal in your memory, make a list of proverbs and quotations. Do this as a weekly training program for your memory.
From time to time, you also have to repeat what you have learned. Otherwise it will fade. To this end, you need to find out how long a text you have learned will remain present in your memory. Then you will know when it is time to polish it up.
There are different levels of difficulty for memorization. “Internalizing” poems that rhyme and have a certain meter by reading them out loud passage by passage and repeating it is the easiest exercise. Memorizing without reading out loud is a bit more difficult. It is very difficult when you do not learn the poem from a printed medium but rather from an audio source. Here too, however, you can repeat what you have heard either out loud or silently.
Other ways to raise the level of difficulty for practicing memorization include the following: learning prose texts by heart – no meter, no rhyme – silently, only reading with your eyes; learning song lyrics from an audio source only by listening; memorizing complicated audiobook texts.
As soon as you have learned the text, keep repeat what you have learned silently, without the book or audio source. Once it has really sunken in, recite the text like an actor, using gestures and facial expressions, along with dramatic effects. Then make up a situation to go with it: in front of the mirror, experiencing it yourself, or in front of friends.
Have a closer look at visual media!
But not only language is important for our communication, but now more than ever the visual media, often combined with language. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Pictures have the appearance of a direct reference to reality, are considered authentic — and yet can be manipulated like words.
It serves to improve concentration and memory as well as a better understanding of the content of audiovisual media such as films and television programs if one extends his training to such means of conveying information and opinions.
Start by analyzing videos that you download from the Internet.
- Which motifs are used?
- How are the subjects set into the picture? What detail is used? What angle? What movements of the subject are used? What camera moves?
- How is the image sequence edited and cut?
- What commentary is used for the images?
- For which images is no information provided?
- What sounds can you hear? What background music is used? What moods are created by the music and the sounds?
And another very important point: What do you not get to see and hear?
In terms of content, you can only find out what has been omitted if you know your way around the topic. But how often is that the case?
This means that you have to be able to recognize the places that raise the suspicion that something might be missing:
- questions that are thrown out but answered onlyin part;
- hints that are not followed up;
- facts that trigger doubts;
- claimsthat are not substantiated;
- contradictionsin the argumentation;
- one-sided argumentation.
The design of the audiovisual media also offers starting points:
- Do the picture and the sound fit together?
- Is the opinion expressed obvious as such, or is it communicated as if facts are being presented?
- What feelings are deliberately evoked with the images and the underlying music?
The analysis should be followed by an evaluation in which, among other things, the credibility is checked, open questions are collected and the conclusiveness of the images that are shown is determined.
Specifically training your concentration and memory may feel unfamiliar at first, and you may have to overcome some resistance. This is no different from practicing piano etudes or doing warm-up exercises and stretching when you run. But if you are undeterred, after a while you will notice that you have boosted your mental fitness, and then the training will actually be fun.