How Your Smartphone Can Help Your Memory

It’s easy to take memory storage systems like writing for granted, but thousands of years ago, human beings had to rely on impressive feats of memorization to retain information. Back then, if you wanted to have access to a poem, for instance, you’d either need to memorize it yourself, or else find someone who had already stored it away in their heads through painstaking practice.

Given how much data we all process these days, that sort of memorization is no longer an option. Nobody can remember everything, and luckily, we don’t have to! We have come such a long way when it comes to the technology of recording our thoughts that our smartphones now work as a kind of external storage for our brains. Regardless of whether you have a phone running Android, BlackBerry 10, iOS, or Windows Metro, the handy device in your pocket or bag is capable of helping you remember things. From keeping track of dates, to retaining that idea that you had in the middle of the night, there’s always an app for storing, organising, and accessing those things you can’t afford to forget. Here are four of the best.

1. Evernote

In this connected world, we can do a lot better than scribbling notes onto memo pads. The mark of a good note-taking application is its ability to give you access to your notes wherever you are, and Evernote has become one of the widest-used note apps for precisely that reason. The text and images you produce can be accessed not just from your smartphone, but from pretty much any browser-enabled device. With all your notes stored in the cloud, you will never misplace an important note ever again.

2. Wikipedia

One of the most extraordinary developments of the modern world is Wikipedia, a go-to resource for all your fact checking. Gone are the days when row upon row of physical encyclopaedias were needed. Instead, Wikipedia apps are available for most platforms and that means that you now have portable access to an unimaginably large collection of information. We no longer have to remember long lists of facts, when we have such a powerful research tool and repository of general knowledge.

3. Google Calendar

Given how busy life is, we could all do with some help organising our time and making sure important dates are marked down. The problem with a physical calendar, of course, is that if you don’t remember to look at it, it can’t remind you of anything. Online calendar apps like Google Calendar, on the other hand, can be set up to send you email or SMS reminders. At the same time, you can share parts of your calendar with your co-workers, family or friends, making organisation of your life a collaborative affair.

4. HabitRPG

Sure, it’s easy enough to make lists of things you want to do in the future, but what is actually going to motivate you to get through these daily tasks? Luckily, programs like HabitRPG encourage you to tick off your tasks, essentially by making them into a game. On HabitRPG, whenever you complete a particular task, you gain experience and gold; and whenever you either do something counter-productive, or let things slide, you lose points. The idea is that when you successfully perform tasks in the real world – like exercise, or study, or work on a project – your character goes up a level. Best of all, the tasks you can include in HabitRPG are very customisable.