Learning broad principles, rather than memorizing bulk details, can help you organize your life. You go through a process of externalizing information by using identifying principles. For example, knowing where an element fits in the periodic table tells you about its qualities. Sometimes, you can’t externalize the information, as when you meet someone and have a great conversation, but can’t remember his or her name. If you want to remember something, give your mind time to encode it – at least five seconds. Repeat a person’s name, look at his or her face, and focus on making an association.