It is said that for memorization purposes, there are forty minutes each day in which our memory is vastly more receptive than it is during the other 23 hours and 20 minutes. This 40-minute “super memory” period is divided into two parts: the 20 minutes before we sleep, and the 20 minutes after we first awake.

The theory supporting this is pretty simple. First, the last information you input into your brain before a good night’s sleep has a better chance of taking root than information acquired during the hustle bustle of normal daily routine; and, second, your mind is free of distraction when you first awake in the morning — so more receptive to inputs, like a blank slate.

As far as language study goes, it’s not only useful for memorizing vocabulary. It’s also a very useful window of time in which to listen to the language you’re studying, even as background noise, and even if it’s at a level you find difficult to comprehend. It might be audio language study aids, or just radio, TV or whatever.

Beyond our years of formal education, memory skills are hugely important in any career.

How many times have you heard a speaker read their speech from a prepared text, or read the word-by-word content of a powerpoint presentation as they present each slide?

These are annoying, distracting, boring, and ineffective ways of communicating. They are almost guaranteed to lose the audience’s close attention and interest, let alone persuade or inspire anyone to do anything. And yet lots of people still make this mistake.

If you use the “forty minute” technique, you may not succeed in memorizing your presentation contents on a 100% word-by-word basis, but you’ll be familiar enough that you can spend much more time making eye contact with your audience. You will engage them in the process, while glancing at your text instead of staring at it. This will also free up your hands and arms to add some emphasis through gesture.

The technique really works, but like many things, it takes practice and discipline to hone and perfect it.