The ThinkerScientists have discovered that when you want to remember a fact, the prefrontal cortex of the brain becomes very busy. It has to sort through a lot of irrelevant information.

Once it has edited out all the clutter, the prefrontal part of the brain is free to do more important things, such as make decisions.

Thomas Cook, CEO of Cognitive Research Corp., says one of his favorite prescriptions for better memory is “knowing what and when to forget.” Quoted in Prevention, he says our daily overload of information is just filled with too much stuff. He recommends:

For appointments, meeting dates, birthdays, and events, list them on your calendar so you won’t have to keep them in mind.

Keep telephone numbers, even for family members, stored in your cellphone, computer, or on an easily accessible paper list.

When reading the newspaper, decide to remember only what is important to you.

At a meeting or party, learn only the names of people you want to see again.

Block unpleasant memories. Lingering memories of childhood trauma, emotional rejection, or workplace slight can interfere with mental sharpness.

When such a memory rises, replace it immediately with a happy one. Remember a joyful time in detail and try to relive it. Without reinforcement, the unpleasant memory will fade into a distant corner of your mind.

These steps could lead you toward brain fitness and a greater ability to remember what you need to know.