If there are facts and figures you need to remember the best way is through spaced repetition . This basically involves refreshing your memory of a particular fact just before you are about to forget it. To start with you might need reminding every day but quickly it will become once a week or once a month. Handily the task of working out what you need to revise each day is solved by using spaced repetition learning software - and one of the best is Anki.
The tutorial is for anki is here: http://ankisrs.net/docs/manual.html. You can get it on your phone and use it on desktop - they sync with each other nicely.
I was going to write out a tutorial and some key points but someone else has written exactly what I wanted to here (staring at "a few general points"). Consider this required reading - I failed to get into the habit lots of times because I was making these mistakes: http://lesswrong.com/lw/5n7/srs_advice/454l
The next link is how to get the most out of it. Highly recommended but not essential. If you don't read the article then for the first load of cards use "cloze deletion" with really short sentences (fill-in-the-blanks style cards). http://www.supermemo.com/articles/20rules.htm
The next and final link is the academic reasons why this stuff works and the minor details that change how effective it is. Really interesting to me but not at all essential. http://www.gwern.net/Spaced%20repetition
In summary here are my own key points:
- make sure you use it for 15 mins every day/workday (maybe when eating breakfast)
- don't download other peoples decks - make one big one for all your cards
- use cloze deletion - a sentence with its parts missing and replaced by three dots. For example, "Bill ...[name] was the second US president to go through impeachment"
- start by adding the cards that tell you how to use anki properly
- Add cards on everything you feel is important to remember - quotes, peoples names, habits you don't want to forget about, mental maths.
- If, over your lifetime, you will spend more than 5 minutes looking something up or will lose more than 5 minutes as a result of not knowing something, then it is worthwhile to memorize it with spaced repetition. Otherwise it is not.
That is all.
Good luck with it.
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