Supporting our Working Memory

Supporting our Working Memory


Working Memory is a type of short term memory function and is the ability to process and retain information at the same time. It acts almost like a mental jotting pad! The main components of working memory deals with attentional, visual, articulatory and episodic information. The working memory applies to real life tasks: reading (phonological loop), problem solving (attentional) and navigation (visual and spatial processing).


It differs from our long term memory, as once information is forgotten in the process it cannot be regained, as the memory trace is not there. Information can be lost from our working memory because of a distraction in our environments (phone ringing), or by switching our attention to another activity altogether.

Working memory capacity increases from child to adulthood, although there are individual differences in capacity. Working memory difficulties can be associated with incomplete recall of information, forgetting tasks and instructions, losing track of belongings, place keeping errors, difficulty with new vocabulary, and task abandonment. These difficulties can impact the way we work and learn, but there are effective strategies to support our working memory.

Tips to improve your Working Memory

  • Develop a routine for tackling your workload
  • Reduce the memory load and break tasks into smaller chunks
  • Write lists to keep track of information
  • Try and keep a verbal log of information
  • Use colourful visual reminders
  • A quick break of 1 – 2 mins can help to refocus
  • Mindfulness techniques (see my other blog!)

Finally… get a good night’s sleep! Researchers have found that individuals who get a full eight hours of sleep perform up to 58% better on working memory tasks than individuals who get less.

Written by Jessica Lanham

The Learning Support Centre: Empowering you to fulfill your potential.