Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Memory - Observation tool: Trigger Questions

Oxford dictionary defines observation "Notice or perceive (something) and register it as being significant". So, there are two parts in observation:
- Perceiving 
- Registering it as being significant

One of the tool which has been very useful to me during the process of observation is "Trigger questions technique". Tool is very simple and hence it has been often ignored by many memory books. Tool involves asking a inventory of questions during the process of observation and making a mental note of the answers. 
   What is the need to observe this thing? Is it really worth spending few minutes observing this thing? Answer has to be a "BOLD YES" and mind has to spell out the need clearly. Without need and motivation there is no perception and hence mind is not attentive
   Go through the inventory of questions (example below) and answer each of question as honestly as i can. (Framing questions should cover question about "all 5 senses", "emotional moods", logic) 
   Did i spend at sufficient time (which is relative) observing? Is it worth spending more time observing and registering more information
   Finally, Summarize the significant information collected in the process of observation and give a command to mind to remember the information

There are many reasons why this tool works for me:
- First of all it force me to slow down. Most of time i will be in auto steering mode, where i walk around like a zombie rather than conscious intelligent being
- Secondly, inventory of questions force my attention on specific things. Some people also call this convergent observation where you perceive each and every detail of all possible information in the process of observation
- Thirdly, summarizing helps me to evaluate quality of observation and correct things if needed

When i started practicing this it was very tiresome and i felt dizzy sometimes. Sometimes i felt there is no sufficient time to do go through all questions, but believe me with practice mind can do this in a matter of a glance.

Danielle.C.Lapp in her book "Don't Forget" writes about observing a picture:
   First concentrate on the most striking feature of the picture, this would be different for different person. But this provides motivation for you to continue. Ask questions:
       What is the most striking feature in this picture? 
       Why does it impress me? Is it the color, shape, size, smell, sound, background, foreground..etc 
       Does it reminds me of any other pic/place/person..?
    Secondly, concentrate on the emotions stirred in you by the picture.
       Is it pleasant/unpleasent, stimulating/boring, happy/sad...etc
       Why does particular emotion is stirred? possible reason for this association 
Many research has proved that emotions/moods and memory is closely interlinked. If you want to recall some information give it a try to go into the mood when you stored the information in memory
   Thirdly Rational Awareness of the picture 
       What is the subject of the picture? What is the central idea that the painter is trying to portray?
       What is the structure of the picture? Like what is color, shades, pattern?
       What are other significant items in picture? Why particular items are important in the context of the picture 
       What is the painter's emotion when he is trying to portray the picture..etc