The causes of short-term memory loss and practical solutions for improving short-term memory.
Short-term memory is created when the information in your flash memory is moved into an area for holding until it is consolidated into a long-term memory. Having problems with short-term memory means that you are not making a successful transition from what you have seen and heard in the last few minutes into short-term memory where it is processed for more permanent storage.
In normal experience, you forget the vast majority of what you see and hear. Think of driving down the highway. You see about 100,000 images every few seconds during daylight hours. Nearly all of that is lost within a few seconds unless something remarkable occurs. Of the thousands of words that you hear each day, only hundreds are retained without special effort being made to hold onto more. You take notes in a classroom because you will forget most of what the instructor said within an hour after the class ends without those notes.
Not retaining short-term memories is not a problem until you fail to retain information that you would normally have remembered. At that point, it is important that you sit down and determine why those memories are being lost before they can become long-term. A number of reasons exist to cause this to happen. Some are relatively easy to fix. Some are not.
Short-term memory can be affected by trying to hold too much.
If you have taken on several extra duties or projects in recent weeks, you may simply have too much to deal with each day. This means that like images on the highway, too much information is coming at you at once for you to retain it all. Multi-tasking is a wonderful thing. However, when you start to have to multi-task while multi-tasking, you will forget important material. This one can be difficult to fix in the short run. The only real solution is to take some of the commitments away from your schedule. For type-A people, this is like asking them to sell off their children, but it really is the only solution that brings lasting results.
Stress will impact short-term memory.
If you are worrying about major problems in your life or job, it can consume so much brain power that little is left for retention. Nothing works right when a person is under excessive stress. The big items crowd out the lesser ones, and short-term memory suffers. Until you are able to get the stress eliminated, the memory problems will continue.
Fatigue will reduce the ability to remember.
Your brain requires rest. A severly sleep-deprived brain will lose its ability to focus on information long enough to retain it. When this happens, you will see a serious decline in short-term memory. Fortunately, this one is easy to fix. Allow yourself to get adequate sleep for a few days, and memory should show a marked improvement.
Illness, age, and early dementia can be the culprits to steal short-term memories.
When your physical conditions deteriorate for any reason, it will often affect your ability to remember. For most people, if the physical conditions can be improved by healing or medicines, memory will improve fairly quickly. In the case of dementia, it may just be that fewer memories will be lost as quickly.
Using a few techniques can help short-term memory.
Keeping a log of what you hear and see can enhance your ability to remember. Making sure to write down the important things to be remembered will give you a written record that can be reviewed later. Being able to repeat your exposure to information will build up your memory and cause a greater amount of recall. This is the same trick that overtaxed students have been using for years to pass upcoming tests.