Imagine you are holding the code to your bank card in your cupped hands like it’s in liquid form. You need to concentrate really hard to make sure you don’t let it slip through your fingers….

Now imagine you’ve got to remove one of those hands to open your banking app and remember where the right part is that you need to send a payment to a friend. You turn back to your other hand to get your code but realise that while you weren’t paying attention your code has slipped through your fingers and gone!

This is what it’s like to have poor working memory. Holding the memory in your hands tightly is what happens when you are given information such as a bank code and you keep repeating it in your head to try to remember it.  Working memory is when you have to access that formation and do something with it.

Working Memory

This is where it gets tricky for a lot of people, especially children when they are trying to use their times tables that they could remember 5 minutes ago but can’t seem to recall now that they are trying to work out their maths homework. Sound familiar?!?

The good news is that there are techniques that can be taught to help with this kind of problem and support the working memory process. A bad memory can’t be ‘fixed’, but with the right teaching, it can be worked around so it’s not such a big problem.

1) Group information from one large piece into several smaller manageable pieces.
This helps to stop that horrible feeling of being overwhelmed and not knowing what to do or where to start. By breaking information into smaller chunks, it enables you to work through a task by focusing on one smaller part at a time until you have finished the job.

This works for remembering information such as telephone numbers too, 01534 765 890 is easier to remember than 01534765890.

Working Memory

2) Write it down!
It is handy to always keep a notepad and pen handy, or voice notes on your phone. This then allows you to make notes of ideas as they come to you, and you can review and make sense of them later. This is particularly useful if you are trying to write an essay, solve a multi-step math’s problem, or even just remember what you need to get from the shops on your way home!

3) Experiment with different memory techniques and find one that works for you.
We all have different ways of remembering things, some of us are better if the information is put to a tune (such as learning times tables or the rhythm to perform CPR). Others are more visual and can use methods such as The Memory Palace, or maybe you need to add actions to words to help you remember them.

I am terrible at remembering names, so I always try to link the name of someone new with a famous person or character with the same name, picturing the person alongside the character and taking a mental picture.

Working Memory


There is no right or wrong way to use, but if you can figure out if you are more of a visual, auditory, or multi-sensory learner, this can help to identify the best techniques for you.