How to Overcome Focus Problems & Jump-Start Your Memory

Last Updated: 29 Aug 2019
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Focus & memory problems make it extremely difficult to remember information like names, instructions, family matters. The key to making sure that the information sticks is to pay extra attention when you first hear it. According to memory scientist Elizabeth Twamley, PhD the secret to make sure you remember everything lies in one word: LEAP.

L – Listen actively 

Use nonverbal behaviors such as turning toward the speaker and maintaining eye contact (or looking at the person’s nose, if that’s more comfortable).

E – Eliminate distractions

How can you minimize commotion that might splinter your attention? That includes kids and pets, a TV or radio playing, pings from your phone, even clutter on the counter.

A – Ask questions

Seek clarification. Request that the speaker slow down, repeat information, or explain something in a different way. 

P – Paraphrase

Repeat information back in your own words, which will not only ensure you understand it but also “encode” the information in your memory so it’s easier to recall later.

Read More:
Fixes For a Foggy Brain
7 Ways to Work Around Memory Problems & Get Things Done

—Adapted from the Compensatory Cognitive Training Manual at

About the author
Barbara Boughton, a freelance health and medical writer, writes for Reader’s Digest, and other outlets. She lives in the San Francisco Bay area.
1 Comment
  1. I find that I don’t even have to have a concrete distraction to lose track of a conversation or even the minister’s sermon. I just get distracted to the point of having no idea what was said. Granted, I also have OCD, and one of my behaviors is a complicated spelling ritual that also distracts me big time. The only drug that ever helped me with the OCD kept me yawning all the time (this was before my bipolar diagnosis). I even had to get doctors to write me excuses for not doing jury duty to be excused because I was so concerned that between the OCD and BP I wouldn’t be able to pay attention or concentrate on what I was hearing and have to make decisions based on the little bit of evidence I did hear. I used to cry out of frustration when I tried to stop the spelling ritual but have become more resigned to it because I now know that having bipolar finally diagnosed, is more important than stopping the spelling ritual. I feel so much better even while I’m spelling that it has become a lot less important though I’d still like to stop the OCD symptoms. Both the spelling and my distraction mean I don’t hear much of any one subject unless I make a big effort (usually fruitless) to pay attention.

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