Creating a Color Scheme

28 Jun

Photoshop is a truly amazing program. You can edit photos, arrange elements on layers, add styles, create textures, retouch photos, pick and choose any color you like, and a myriad of other assorted things. But from what I’ve seen, most of the educational focus is on one of two things: Photo Retouching and Cool Special effects. In addition, I’ve read over 50 books on Photoshop, and the majority of the material focus on basic skills that can easily be found by reading the documentation that comes free with Photoshop.

Don’t get me wrong, there are several books out there with good intentions, and every once in a while I will read something that really inspires me or sends me in a new direction. But I would really like to see some advances in the material being presented. I’m often found scouring the web for tutorials that break out of the mold and teach you something truly unique, useful, and intriguing. I believe it is with those three things that a really good writer/teacher is found.

That being said, I hope this tutorial will give you a bit of all three. It’s not anything earth-shattering, but it’s something that I’ve yet to see demonstrated anywhere else. In this tutorial I’m going to take a step back and explore a little known functionality of Photoshop, and that is its ability to create color schemes or color harmonies.

What do I mean by this? Well, let’s say you have a website or a print project, and you have explored your layout. You know what you want to present, and you may even have all the elements that you want to put together ready to go. But what you don’t have is a color scheme. A few matching colors that look good together. Colors that will pull out the presentation and work together to produce a good design. I used to struggle to find good color combinations. But after a while I started thinking that there may be a better way to design. There may be a quick solution for finding colors that look good together.

So I started reading some books, and talking to other designers, and what I found inspired me to try to work Photoshop into providing me with color schemes. Adobe has dabbled with this concept before: in an old program called ImageStyler, there was a color scheme palette which produced a variety of colors (6 in total I believe) that were based on a single color which the user chose. When ImageStyler went the way of the dinosaur, LiveMotion took over and adopted this Color Scheme palette. I’m not sure if it is still available in this program or not, but I can tell you there are several color schemer programs and applets out there that will do all the work for you and charge you a fee for your lack of knowledge.

Understanding Color Harmonies

In reality, creating a Color Scheme in Photoshop is probably one of the easiest things to do. All it takes is a little basic understanding of Color Harmonies and how to translate them into the Hue/Saturation dialog. I’ll show you how to do that. In addition, you can download my free set of Color Schemer actions which do the work for you. If you download them, I urge you to review the steps in the action and see how the colors are being created. I also urge you to find your own color combinations that work for you. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to color selection, but there are some general guidelines that you can follow.

Traditionally, there are a few basic color harmonies. This is not an exhaustive list, however, the most common are as follows:

  • Complementary: This scheme uses two colors which are directly opposed on the color wheel (for example: Red and Cyan)
  • Split Complementary: This scheme uses 3 colors. One color and two other colors that are directly adjacent to its complement on the color wheel (for example: Red, Cyan-Green, and Cyan-Blue)
  • Triad: This color scheme uses 3 colors that are equally spaced out on the color wheel (for example: Red, Blue, and Green)
  • Analogous: This scheme uses three colors, one that is in the center, and the two colors adjacent to it on the color wheel (for example: Red, Red-Orange, and Red-Violet).
  • Monochromatic: This color scheme uses colors from the same Hue on the color wheel, but with varying saturation and/or lightness (for example: different shades or tints of red).

These color schemes are what’s known as “harmonious” color combinations, or colors that are in tune with each other, and look extremely presentable when used in tandem. Most any other color combination produce “discordant” color schemes, meaning the colors are less in tune with one another. Since color is a subjective thing, you are the best judge on what works and what doesn’t. However, there are simple principles you can follow to achieve better color schemes than others. Without getting too heavily into the subject, let’s take the following example:

Which image looks better to you? Most people will say the image on the left looks better, and they would have 400 years of tradition on their side. The reason is simple science. By creating Red text on a Cyan background, we are creating a complementary color scheme (Red’s opposite–complementary–color is Cyan). When we place the same red text on a pure blue background, the colors begin to vibrate and the text becomes unreadable. This is because blue is a discordant color in relation to red, and we have set up a discordant color scheme.

Translating Color Harmonies in Photoshop

By taking this theory a step further, we can easily recreate these schemes (and any others) in Photoshop.

In order to do that, we must first translate our Color Wheel into the Hue slider on the Hue/Saturation dialog. Here is how it’s done:


There are two main things to note at this point:

  1. The Color Wheel (which is circular) is translated into the Hue/Saturation dialog (which is linear). This is why +180 and –180 on the Hue slider in the dialog will give you the same color. Just as 0 and 360 on the color wheel give you the same color. Just keep in the back of your mind that adjusting the linear Hue slider actually moves the colors around the color wheel in a circle.

  2. The Hue/Saturation dialog uses relative color shifting. This means that whatever color you initially select, the numbers in the color wheel shift relative to that color. For example: the above color wheel is valid only if Red is your starting color. If you select Blue as your starting color–located at position “–120”, all the numbers will shift so that Blue becomes the new “0/360” position (all the other numbers above will shift accordingly). Note that it is not the colors that change, but the numbers that calculate the colors. The color wheel itself stays constant. By contrast, if the Hue/Saturation dialog used “Absolute” color shifting, then the color Red would always be located at position “0/360”.

It is this second point that is the key to unlock the power of Photoshop when it comes to creating color schemes. Since the numbers will shift depending on the color you initially select, you can easily create an action that finds all the appropriate color schemes based on a single color of your choice. Once the action user selects his color and places it as the foreground color, you can have the action create a new document and place all the colors in any of these color schemes into this document as swatches of color. The end result is a useful timesaver to pick all the color harmonies.

Here are the Color Scheme locations in relation to the sliders on the Hue/Saturation dialog. Note that all schemes except Monochromatic use the Hue slider to find the appropriate colors. Indeed this is really the only slider you need to adjust for most of the color schemes.

Complementary Color Scheme:

Split Complementary Color Scheme:

Triad Color Scheme:

Analogous Color Scheme:

Monochromatic Color Scheme:

Automating Color Schemes Using an Action

Here is a step-by-step process that I used to create my action that finds all color combinations based on the methods above:

Step 1

First, create a new image. 400×400 pixels should give us enough room to work comfortably.

Step 2

Next, fill the layer with 50% gray. This is good because we can view our colors against a neutral background. When that is done, create a new layer, and make a simple square selection on the new layer. We are going to place each of our colors on a different layer so they are easy to manipulate.

Step 3

Next, fill the square with any color. This will be the base, or original color that will be used to base all other colors within the color scheme. Be sure to keep the selection active during this process.

Step 4

Next, duplicate the color layer. Move the square below the original color. This is going to be our complement color. On the duplicate layer, click Ctrl/Command+I to get the inverse of the original color. If you like, you can label this layer “Complementary”. In our example below, since Cyan is the complement to red, the square is filled with Cyan.


Step 5

Next, create 2additional layers and move them below the two color squares. These will be our Triads. Be sure they are the same color as the original square (red in this example).

A triad is a group of three colors that are separated on the color wheel by 120 degrees in either direction. So the easiest way to create your Triads is to use the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer over each of the two squares and change only the hue by a positive 120 and negative 120 respectively. Since the Hue/Saturation dialog shifts colors relative to the original color, you will achieve the correct results because you are moving 120 degrees in either direction relative to the original “red” color.

Step 6

When you are done, group these layers with their respective color squares by holding the Alt/Command key and hovering your mouse over the line between the adjustment layer and the layer below. When you see the link cursor, click with your mouse. This will group the adjustment layer with the layer below it. You can merge each of these grouped layers down if you would like to save space and reduce the number of layers in your document.


You now have the two additional colors to make up a traditional triad (these two colors plus the original red color make up the triad).

Step 7

We’ll work on the Split Complements in the same way. Split Complements are separated by 150 degrees on the color wheel in either direction, so perform the same operation as you did with the split complements, only this time change the Hue in the Hue/Saturation dialog by negative 150 and positive 150 degrees in either direction. You will end up with the following diagram:

Step 8

Next, let’s try our hand at Monochromatic colors. Monochromatic colors simply mean the same hue, but a variation in the tint, shade, or saturation of the color. These are perhaps the easiest colors to recreate, the only difference is that instead of changing the Hue, you will need to change the saturation. Note that you can also change the lightness slider as well, but I would start off slow and change the saturation in any increment level you like.

You should also bear another note in mind as you do this exercise. Depending on the color you first select as your original base color, it may already be saturated in a specific direction. For example, the red I chose is highly saturated, so that increasing the saturation upward (shown in the image below left) will not yield any increase in saturation (we have already selected a highly saturated color). Note, however, that decreasing the saturation in the red squares at the bottom left yields a change in the saturation of the color. So it’s a good idea to produce color squares that yield both an increase in saturation results, and a decrease in saturation results, so that whatever color is chosen, you will get at least one or two results from your monochromatic colors. In this respect, finding monochromatic colors is hit or miss when you create a color schemer action such as the one I’ve created. However, if you are doing things manually, you can see the increase/decrease in saturation on-screen as you adjust the saturation slider.


Step 9

Lastly, follow the same steps to produce Analogous colors by increasing or decreasing your Hue slider to +30 and –30 respectively. In the action I created, I also included two other analogous colors with +60/-60 Hue shifts just to make it a little more interesting.

Here are the results of the action when it was run using red as the original color. This automatically creates the Complementary, Split Complementaries, Triads, 5 Monochromatic colors, and 4 Analogous colors of the original color. Depending what color you initially select in your foreground, the results will be different each time. Once the action is run, you can sample from any of the squares to place the color in your foreground, or save the colors in your Swatches palette.

So where do you go from here? Well, you can save this document as a color reference where you can sample colors, or you can sample each color and create customized swatch files out of the created colors. I guarantee this method will be a great way for you to build your own color schemes for your web pages, designs and layouts, and it sure beats the hunt and peck method to find colors that work well together.

I hope you find this tutorial useful. Feel free to download the action here. And try creating your own color combinations based on the hue/saturation dialog, or even try applying the same methods to the channel mixer dialog to come up with some interesting results. Until next time, good luck with all your Photoshop projects.


15 May

Target IE only with CSS – the easy way

Using the methods below, you can target IE only with CSS. This is very useful, as many times Internet Explorer and Firefox display pages differently, and it is much easier to write different code for the browsers than to try to use weird hacks to fix IE bugs.

Easy Method #1

This will allow you to target not only IE, but also different versions of IE. Does it work in IE 6 but not IE 7? This is the best way to fix it!

Add the following code in the <head> section of your page, and create the linked CSS files (ie.css) and upload them.

IE only

<!--[if IE]>
<link rel="stylesheet" href="ie.css" type="text/css" />

IE 6 only

<!--[if IE 6]>
<link rel="stylesheet" href="ie6.css" type="text/css" />

IE 7 only

<!--[if IE 7]>

<link rel="stylesheet" href="ie7.css" type="text/css" />


Less than IE 7

<!--[if lt IE 7]>

<link rel="stylesheet" href="ie6.css" type="text/css" />

Greater than IE 6

<!--[if gte IE 7]>
<link rel="stylesheet" href="ie7.css" type="text/css" />

It should be noted that this only applies to IE. So you’ll want to code for Firefox, then override it with these CSS files. The best way to do this is be more specific. So if you want to override a navigation link:

Normal CSS for Firefox

#nav a { padding: 4px; }

CSS in ie.css

#container #nav a { padding: 6px; }

Quick IE 6 hack

If to only need to apply css to internet explorer 6, use this simple hack in your normal css file:

Add “* html ” in front of any declaration

* html a { font-color: #000; }

This will only be used by IE 6

IE Targets

15 May

IE8 and Below

The key to targeting Internet Explorer 8 and below, with a hack, is to append “\9″ to the end of your style. For example:

  1. body {  
  2.  colorred/* all browsers, of course */  
  3.  color : green\9; /* IE8 and below */  
  4. }  

It’s important to note that it must be “\9″. Unfortunately you can’t replace this with something along the lines of “\IE”, like I attempted to do so. Even “\8″ won’t work; it must be “\9″.

IE7 and Below

As we learned in the quick tip from January, we can use the * symbol to target IE7 and below, like so:

  1. body {  
  2.  colorred/* all browsers, of course */  
  3.  color : green\9; /* IE8 and below */  
  4.  *color : yellow/* IE7 and below */  
  5. }  


Lastly, we have the underscore hack, which most designers are familiar with by now. Rather than the * symbol, we use the underscore. This will target only Internet Explorer 6.

  1. body {  
  2.  colorred/* all browsers, of course */  
  3.  color : green\9; /* IE8 and below */  
  4.  *color : yellow/* IE7 and below */  
  5.  _color : orange; /* IE6 */  
  6. }  

A Note About CSS Hacks

It’s worth noting that I’m not advocating the use of hacks in your stylesheets in any way. On the contrary, you should almost always use conditional comments. However, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t helpful to know what you can technically get away with, whether it be for debugging, or showing off to your friends!

The biggest concern is that hacks aren’t future proof, at least not really. For example, what if, with the release of Firefox 4, they, too, recognized properties prepended with the * hack. They probably never would for compatibility reasons, however, if they did, that could potentially ruin a portion of your layout. Ultimately, just be wise when using hacks. If you only need to change one or two properties to make IE6 happy, then I don’t see any harm in using the underscore hack directly in your stylesheet. The world won’t end. However, if there are a handful of changes, be sure to use conditional comments!

  1. <!–[if lte IE 7]>  
  2. Make IE7 happy.  
  3. <![endif]–>  

Thanks for reading and watching!

How to Get a Friend Back

7 Nov
  • Determine why your friend has changed his or her tune. Maybe you’ve done something wrong that you can apologize for, or perhaps your behavior needs to change.
  • Be as nice as you can. This will make your friend start thinking that maybe you’ve changed. It’s a start! Don’t try to upset your friend in any way.
  • Start a conversation if you can. Start saying “hi” or “how you doing?” when you see them. Say “looking good” or “love your hair”. It’s hard for people to resist compliments.
  • Watch your friend for cues to start talking more. Maybe she or he will smile at you or say “hi” back. Don’t miss your chance!
  • Invite them to your house or to hang out at the mall. Casual, no-pressure situations will help them ease back into being your friend.
  • Talk to them and ask whether you can still be friends. Being as direct and honest as possible is best.
  • Take it slow
  • If it is their fault; tell them you forgive them and then take it from there.
  • [edit] Tips

    • Take it slow. This plan won’t work if you go too fast.
    • Have a lot of patience.
    • Smile a lot.
    • Tell people your friend is awesome

    How to Have a Great Conversation

    7 Nov

    Listen. This is the most important part of any conversation. Pay attention to what is being said. Make acknowledging noises or movements to indicate that you are still listening. A conversation will not go anywhere if you are too busy thinking of anything else, including what you plan to say next. If you listen well, the other person’s statements will suggest questions for you to ask. Allow the other person to do most of the talking. They will often not realize that it was they who did most of the talking, and you get the credit for being a good conversationalist – which of course, you are!

  • Find out what the other person is interested in. You can even do some research in advance when you know you will have an opportunity to talk with a specific person. Complimenting them is a great place to start. Everyone likes sincere compliments, and that can be a great ice-breaker.
  • Ask questions. What do they like to do? What sort of things have they done in their lives? What is happening to them now? What did they do today or last weekend? Identify things about them that you might be interested in hearing about, and politely ask questions. Remember, there was a reason that you wanted to talk to them, so obviously there was something about them that you found interesting. However, try to space out your questions or they’ll feel like you’re interrogating them which is very bad and closes off friendships.
  • Forget yourself. Dale Carnegie once said, “It’s much easier to become interested in others than it is to convince them to be interested in you.” If you are too busy thinking about yourself, what you look like, or what the other person might be thinking, you will never be able to relax. Introduce yourself, shake hands, then forget yourself and focus on them instead.

  • Practice active listening skills. Part of listening is letting the other person know that you are listening. Make eye contact. Nod. Say “Yes,” “I see,” “That’s interesting,” or something similar to give them clues that you are paying attention and not thinking about something else – such as what you are going to say next.
  • Ask clarifying questions. If the topic seems to be one they are interested in, ask them to clarify what they think or feel about it. If they are talking about an occupation or activity you do not understand, take the opportunity to learn from them. Everyone loves having a chance to teach another willing and interested person about their hobby or subject of expertise.
  • Paraphrase back what you have heard, using your own words. This seems like an easy skill to learn, but takes some practice to master. Conversation happens in turns, each person taking a turn to listen and a turn to speak or to respond. It shows respect for the other person when you use your “speaking turn” to show you have been listening and not just to say something new. They then have a chance to correct your understanding, affirm it, or embellish on it.
  • Consider your response before disagreeing. If the point was not important, ignore it rather than risk appearing argumentative. If you consider it important then politely point out your difference of opinion. Do not disagree merely to set yourself apart, but remember these points:
    • It is the differences in people–and their conversation–that make them interesting.
    • Agreeing with everything can kill a conversation just as easily as disagreeing with everything.
    • A person is interesting when they are different from you; a person is obnoxious when they can not agree with anything you say, or if they use the point to make themselves appear superior.
    • Try to omit the word “but” from your conversation when disagreeing as this word often puts people on the defensive. Instead, try substituting the word “and”, it has less of an antagonistic effect.
  • Consider playing devil’s advocate – which requires care. If your conversation partner makes a point, you can keep the conversation going by bringing up the opposite point of view (introduce it with something like “I agree, and…”). If you overuse this technique, however, you could end up appearing disagreeable or even hostile.
  • Do not panic over lulls. This is a point where you could easily inject your thoughts into the discussion. If the topic seems to have run out, use the pause to think for a moment and identify another conversation topic or question to ask them. Did something they said remind you of something else you have heard, something that happened to you, or bring up a question or topic in your mind? Mention it and you’ll transition smoothly into further conversation!
  • Know when the conversation is over. Even the best conversations will eventually run out of steam or be ended by an interruption. Smile if you’re leaving, and tell them you can’t wait to talk to them again soon. Ending on a positive note will leave a good impression and likely bring them back later for more!
  • Make a good first impression. Smile, ask questions that require more than a yes/no answer, and really listen. Maintain eye contact and keep as friendly and polite as possible.
  • [edit] Tips

    • If, after the conversation concludes, you come away feeling full of yourself there is a chance you maneuvered the talk to serve your own agenda and steam-rolled your counterpart. You used the occasion to show off your wit and knowledge. Try to keep from using a conversation to boost your ego.
    • Try to get them talking about something they enjoy thinking about and something that you’re interested in hearing or else the conversation isn’t fulfilling and one of you will feel unsatisfied with it.
    • Don’t be worried about the conversation and where it will go. People have natural conversation reflexes built into them. Why can’t you ever remember how a good conversation started? The reason is because you had a conversation starter and then you let the reflexes kick in. This made the conversation transition smoothly, enjoyably, and naturally. Thinking too much will make an awkward conversation that is difficult to keep going.
    • The best conversations come from gaining new understanding about the topic discussed or the person. Try to lead into personal stories and anecdotes. These give limitless conversation and are revealing about the character of a person.
    • It’s okay to talk about yourself some as long as the person listening is interested and getting new information about you or the topic. People don’t like to rehash things they already know or have thought about so try to give a new perspective or way of thinking if you’re the one speaking.
    • Always think before you speak. Do not take a long time to answer but listen well to keep on the right track with the conversation. Try not to make an embarrassing mistake, such as giving an opinion which may disrespect someone else. Choose your words carefully, but do not create pointless silences by keeping your conversation partner waiting for 5 minutes before you answer a simple question.
    • Remember that sometimes if a conversation isn’t going well, it might not be your fault! Sometimes the other person is distracted/lost in thought, isn’t willing to contribute, or is having a bad day. If they don’t speak or listen, then they are the ones not using good conversation skills, not you.

    How to Improve Your Memory

    7 Nov
    1. Convince yourself that you do have a good memory that will improve. Too many people get stuck here and convince themselves that their memory is bad, that they are just not good with names, that numbers just slip out of their minds for some reason. Erase those thoughts and vow to improve your memory. Commit yourself to the task and bask in your achievements — it’s hard to keep motivated if you beat yourself down every time you make a little bit of progress.
    2. Exercise your brain. Regularly “exercising” the brain keeps it growing and spurs the development of new nerve connections that can help improve memory. By developing new mental skills—especially complex ones such as learning a new language or learning to play a new musical instrument—and challenging your brain with puzzles and games you can keep your brain active and improve its physiological functioning. Try some puzzle exercises everyday such as word cross, sudoku and some other games as easy to put into your mobile phone and practice it maybe once for 30 minutes per day.
    3. Exercise daily. Regular aerobic exercise improves circulation and efficiency throughout the body, including in the brain, and can help ward off the memory loss that comes with aging. Exercise also makes you more alert and relaxed, and can thereby improve your memory uptake, allowing you to take better mental “pictures.”
    4. Reduce stress. Chronic stress, although it does not physically damage the brain, can make remembering much more difficult. After prolonged stress the brain will be damaged. Stressful situations are recognized by the hypothalamus, which in turn signals the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland secreted adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)which influences the adrenal glands to secrete adrenaline and later cortisol(corticosteroids). The corticosteroids can weaken the blood-brain barrier and damage the hippocampus(the memory center). Ironically, the hippocampus controls the secretion of the hormone released by the hypothalamus through a process of negative feedback. After chronic stress it will be damaged and it will not be as efficient in regulating the degenerative corticosteroids and memory will be harmed. Neurogenesis (formation of new neurons) indeed exists in the hippocampus but stress inhibits it. To recapitulate and synthesis, chronic stress will affect your health and your memory, it will damage the brain so the best option is to learn to control stress. Stress will never be eliminated, but it definitely can be controlled. []Even temporary stresses can make it more difficult to effectively focus on concepts and observe things. Try to relax, regularly practice yoga or other stretching exercises, and see a doctor if you have severe chronic stress as soon as possible.
    5. Eat well and eat right. There are a lot of herbal supplements on the market that claim to improve memory, but none have yet been shown to be effective in clinical tests (although small studies have shown some promising results for ginkgo biloba and phosphatidylserine). A healthy diet, however, contributes to a healthy brain, and foods containing antioxidants—broccoli, blueberries, spinach, and berries, for example—and Omega-3 fatty acids appear to promote healthy brain functioning. Feed your brain with such supplements as Thiamine, Vitamin E, Niacin and Vitamin B-6. Grazing, eating 5 or 6 small meals throughout the day instead of 3 large meals, also seems to improve mental functioning (including memory) by limiting dips in blood sugar, which may negatively affect the brain.
    6. Take better pictures. Often we forget things not because our memory is bad, but rather because our observational skills need work. One common situation where this occurs (and which almost everyone can relate to) is meeting new people. Often we don’t really learn people’s names at first because we aren’t really concentrating on remembering them. You’ll find that if you make a conscious effort to remember such things, you’ll do much better. One way to train yourself to be more observant is to look at an unfamiliar photograph for a few seconds and then turn the photograph over and describe or write down as many details as you can about the photograph. Try closing your eyes and picturing the photo in your mind. Use a new photograph each time you try this exercise, and with regular practice you will find you’re able to remember more details with even shorter glimpses of the photos.
    7. Give yourself time to form a memory. Memories are very fragile in the short-term, and distractions can make you quickly forget something as simple as a phone number. The key to avoid losing memories before you can even form them is to be able to focus on the thing to be remembered for a while without thinking about other things, so when you’re trying to remember something, avoid distractions and complicated tasks for a few minutes.
    8. Create vivid, memorable images. You remember information more easily if you can visualize it. If you want to associate a child with a book, try not to visualize the child reading the book – that’s too simple and forgettable. Instead, come up with something more jarring, something that sticks, like the book chasing the child, or the child eating the book. It’s your mind – make the images as shocking and emotional as possible to keep the associations strong.
    9. Repeat things you need to learn. The more times you hear, see, or think about something, the more surely you’ll remember it, right? It’s a no-brainer. When you want to remember something, be it your new coworker’s name or your best friend’s birthday, repeat it, either out loud or silently. Try writing it down; think about it. The key lies in “Spaced Repetition” learning. I’m sure everyone is familiar with flash cards. They’re usually used when you want to revise for an exam. It’s essentialy a card with a question on one side and the answer on the other. In the course of learning a topic you would have a stack of cards and would go through them testing yourself. Those that you got right you would put to one side and review a few days later. The more difficult ones might take several days to fix in the brain. However, when is the ideal time to review the cards that you have temporarily remembered. Leave it too long and, like all memories, it may have faded and we forget the answer. If we review it too soon then we waste time looking at it. We need some system to know exactly when to review each card. Here enters the exciting world of “Spaced Repetition Software”. This software automatically works out the most efficient time to test you on each card for optimum memory retention. There are a number of free bits of software out there for you to use.
    10. Group things you need to remember. Random lists of things (a shopping list, for example) can be especially difficult to remember. To make it easier, try categorizing the individual things from the list. If you can remember that, among other things, you wanted to buy four different kinds of vegetables, you’ll find it easier to remember all four.
    11. Organize your life. Keep items that you frequently need, such as keys and eyeglasses, in the same place every time. Use an electronic organizer or daily planner to keep track of appointments, due dates for bills, and other tasks. Keep phone numbers and addresses in an address book or enter them into your computer or cell phone. Improved organization can help free up your powers of concentration so that you can remember less routine things. Even if being organized doesn’t improve your memory, you’ll receive a lot of the same benefits (i.e. you won’t have to search for your keys anymore).
    12. Try meditation. Research now suggests that people who regularly practice “mindfulness” meditation are able to focus better and may have better memories. Mindfulness (also known as awareness or insight meditation) is the type commonly practiced in Western countries and is easy to learn. Studies at Massachusetts General Hospital show that regular meditation thickens the cerebral cortex in the brain by increasing the blood flow to that region. Some researchers believe this can enhance attention span, focus, and memory.
    13. Sleep well. The amount of sleep we get affects the brain’s ability to recall recently learned information. Getting a good night’s sleep – a minimum of seven hours a night – may improve your short-term memory and long-term relational memory, according to recent studies conducted at the Harvard Medical School.
    14. Build your memorization arsenal. Learn pegs, memory palaces, and the Dominic System. These techniques form the foundation for mnemonic techniques, and will visibly improve your memory.
    15. Venture out and learn from your mistakes. Go ahead and take a stab at memorizing the first one hundred digits of pi, or, if you’ve done that already, the first one thousand. Memorize the monarchs of England through your memory palaces, or your grocery list through visualization. Through diligent effort you will eventually master the art of memorization.


    • Most people’s brains are not very good at remembering abstract information, such as numbers. This is one of the things that separate those with eidetic memory from those with a great, normal memory. The key to being able to recall such things is to build associations and links that evoke the memory. This is why almost anybody with normal brain functioning can dramatically improve their ability to recall things using mnemonics. While building a memory palace, for example, actually requires that you “remember” more, by associating the thing to be remembered with other things (emotions, other memories, images, etc.) you build more mental “links” to the memory, thus making it easier to access.
    • A large number of memory improvement products are available (a search on the internet will produce hundreds of such products). Most of these products actually teach you mnemonic strategies, and while some are no doubt bunk, some are legitimate.
    • One easy method to help you remember people’s names is to look at the person when you are introduced and say the person’s name: “Nice to meet you, Bill.”
    • Try memorizing the order of a deck of playing cards. Although this may seem like a pointless task, it will allow you to discover memorization techniques that work best for you.
    • Try a tray of objects (say, 10 objects). Study them for 30 seconds. Take the tray away and write down all the objects you can. Increase the number of items for more mind excercise. Or get someone else to find the objects on the tray; this makes them harder to remember and will test you more.
    • Put black ink at the end of your palm to remember any important thing for the next day or for that day itself. Whenever you see the black dot, you’ll remember what to do.
    • Visualize whatever you have to do as part of something you see every day. For example, if you have to give your dog some medicine, visualize your dog in your fridge every time you walk past it or look inside. This will keep your dog fresh in your mind.
    • Write the event or task down immediately. If you don’t have a pen, one thing you can do is change the time on your watch; later on you will remember why it is set at the wrong time. You could also wear your watch upside down.
    • Write in a diary or journal every day without fail. Even small issues should be written down — this is a good way to make sure you don’t miss anything.
    • Leave yourself a telephone message reminding yourself of important “to do” tasks.
    • Memorize your favorite song or poem until you can say it to yourself without any help. Try to do this often.
    • A study by Harvard University shows that people who sleep tend to remember things better. So sleep and see how much you remember things better.
    25 Jul

    Smashing Magazine 2009-07-25T06:00:52Z WordPress Vailancio Rodrigues 2009-07-24T18:43:47Z 2009-07-24T14:37:36Z 51 Jean-Baptiste Jung 2009-07-23T10:22:00Z 2009-07-23T08:31:18Z 51 Smashing Editorial 2009-07-25T06:00:52Z 2009-07-22T15:43:49Z 109 Alexander Komarov 2009-07-22T16:45:02Z 2009-07-21T22:29:53Z 86 Cameron Chapman 2009-07-23T08:39:04Z 2009-07-21T08:00:37Z 51 Cameron Chapman 2009-07-20T09:00:23Z 2009-07-20T08:43:22Z 107 Christian Baeuerlein 2009-07-20T12:00:30Z 2009-07-19T08:12:13Z 57