Technology has made so many aspects of life easier and more accessible, but it does also have drawbacks. When technology does things for us, we tend to switch off and think about things in far less depth than we usually would. For example, when we use GPS navigation to drive somewhere, we are less likely to remember how to get there without it, even after visiting the same location a few times. This is simply because we don’t need to worry about remembering it, as we can always use the satnav next time. The days where people memorised one another’s phone numbers are now also a distant memory, because our smartphones hold every number we could ever need.
Sometimes it can help to go back to basics to really engage and develop your mind. Consider using a paper map every now and then and really making a conscious effort to remember your route, or trying to learn a couple of phone numbers that you know you will use regularly.
An example of how memorising routes can benefit your brain is to look at London cab drivers, who have to build a map of London in their minds. Before they can become licenced cabbies, they must memorize 25,000 streets and 20,000 landmarks. And research has shown that the average London cab driver has a larger-than-average hippocampus (the part of the brain which is responsible for storing memories).