# Remembering can be improved by deliberately creating cues
If Forgetting is a healthy process of inhibiting irrelevant memory, remembering then is about circumventing the inhibition so that we can pull relevant memory. Based on this definition, if we want to remember more important information when we need it, we have to make those memories more relatable to others.
There are two types of memory strengths: retrieval strength and storage strength. When a piece of memory has a high retrieval strength, that particular memory is easily retrievable, especially given a cue or environment. Therefore if what we're interested in is to remember important information when needed, we need to increase the information's retrieval strength. Increasing memory retrieval strength can be done by deliberately adding more cues to the memory. The easiest way for me to remind myself to post a package the next day, for example, is to put the package by the front door. Practicing zettelkasten is the practical example of deliberately creating many cues at scale, so that notes are inter-connected to each other.
Ahrens, How to Take Smart Notes (p. 42)
The collection of good ideas is diluted to insignificance by all the other notes, which are only relevant for a specific project or actually not that good on second sight. [...] It is not surprising that my friend has a bookshelf filled with notebooks full of wonderful ideas, but not a single publication to show.
Ahrens, How to Take Smart Notes (p. 101)
Robert and Elizabeth Ligon Bjork from the University of California suggest distinguishing between two different measurements when it comes to memory: Storage strength and retrieval strength (Bjork 2011).
Learning would be not so much about saving information, like on a hard disk, but about building connections and bridges between pieces of information to circumvent the inhibition mechanism in the right moment. It is about making sure that the right "cues" trigger the right memory, about how we can think strategically to remember the most useful information when we need it.
- Zettels should be optimised for retrieval strength
- Understanding requires elaboration, and elaboration is an act of connecting ideas to as many contexts as possible. Connecting new ideas will be difficult if you can't retrieve your previous notes easily. Remembering can be improved by deliberately creating cues, therefore zettels must be optimised for their retrieval by creating more cues. These are the approach that you should take to make them more retrievable:
- Zettels should be linked
- You need to connect and build on top of other concepts to generate insights. To connect one concept to another, you’ll need a mechanism to remember the previous concepts that you have written before. Links are good cues to finding your previous notes (Remembering can be improved by deliberately creating cues). Your cues will be even stronger with contextual backlinks.
- Retrieving memories makes them easier to retrieve
- Retrieving the memory can be easier when you have a mechanism for it, such as making the time to review what you've learnt, or perhaps creating cues for it (Remembering can be improved by deliberately creating cues).