Memory is not something entirely inherent. In the digital age we memorize anything using devices outside ourselves all the time. I mean come on, how many phone numbers do you know from the top of your head? You probably prefer using your phone’s phonebook. Before the age of recording things externally, the memory was a thing to be trained and cultivated.
Time to Learn: In Order – 5 Minutes / Out of Order – 2 Days
- Simple things: remembering a grocery list? No problem. You don;t need to write down a list of 20 things, you can just memorize it effortlessly.
- Ideas: during the day I often have ideas for projects. The problem is that they come to me when I’m not ready for them. When I’m lying on the beach, almost falling asleep or singing in the shower. Using these techniques I just memorize them and write them down at the end of the day.
- To-Do’s: similar to the one above, little things to do pop up all the time. Not keeping track of then results in an uneasy feeling of “I’m sure I forgot something”. Mentally recording these to-do’s is like emptying your mind’s temporary memory.
- Studying: this one is obvious. Remembering random things is hard for some people, so these techniques are a godsend. If you are interested in study techniques, subscribe at the bottom of the post to receive the learning eBook by Scott Young for free.
What you Need
- A couple of lists with random objects
- A little (really little) patience
Phase 1 – Memorizing things in Order
Take a look at this list:
In a couple short minutes you will learn to memorize it, or memorize anything, no matter how bad your memory is. Sound crazy? Well, it took me 5 minutes to learn…
The Brain likes Crazy
The human mind filters out “normal” things quite easily. A list like the one above is just not interesting enough to allow it in your memory. Your task is to make it interesting.
It sounds weird, but it’s really quite easy. The following technique is referred to as “the Linking Method”. It is based on linking ridiculous images together. The techniques can be broken down in steps.
The Linking Method
1. Make your objects rediculous
The brain likes crazy remember? So to remember TV, you might imagine a giant TV screen, the size of a mountain. There is no way that is a usual occurrence, so it will stick around. There are a number of techniques to make stuff rediculous:
Note: make everything as vivid as possible! See the colors in the images, feel their texture and smell them!
2. Link the objects
To remember your list each object has to be linked to the one before it. Let’s take the first two objects on the list: TV and coffee. Here are some links:
TV – Imagine a TV as big as a mountain. See the sunset behind it and feel the warm air.
Coffee – Imagine coffee pouring out of the screen like a big wave. It is to how you can feel it. It smells like fresh ground dark coffee.
I can assure you that the scene described above will stick around…
3. Keep on linking
Let me run through the list with the associations I would use. For now you try and use the same ones, use your own later on. Read this carefully and use your imagination!
If you have ready this paying attention. Turn away from the screen and go through the list of things. You will find that you can remember every single one.
Now that you can do this, go ahead and try a list of your own!
Phase 2 – Memorizing things Out of Order
Remembering things in order is all very nice, but you will have trouble remembering if a person asks you “so what was number 7?”. In this case you need a different technique. This technique takes a bit longer to learn, but once learned stays with you for your entire life.
The Peg Technique
Imagine your memory to be a wall. You want to hang things on the wall, like a painting. Just pushing it against the wall doesn’t work. You need a small nail or a peg to hang it on. once you put op the peg, you can hang very big paintings from the little thing.
The mind can work the same. Only you need visual pegs. To put a long story short, you will link the numbers 1 through 20 to an image, using a technique I will teach you in a minute. And then use the linking method to link those images you what you want to remember. For example:
1 always means Tie (the thing you wear with a suit)
2 always means Noah (the guy with the big boat in the bible. And no it doesn’t matter if you are religious or not)
If you want to remember the short list:
You would make the folowing associations:
You can do this for many many things. You can make a lot of pegs. But today we start with 20.
Numbers have Sounds
To make sure you will always remember what number means what, we are going to give the numbers an alphabet. Each number will have a sound, the sounds are phonetic. This means that sounds like p and b are the same! Here is the list of numbers, with a sound to associate it with.
Before you do anything, make sure you remember these sounds. Start by learning the top to bottom, and then bottom to top. And afterwards mix them up. For the next step you need these sounds!
The first 5
Look at the list below, and see the objects in your mind. See the number, hear the sound and link it to the object. The sound should be linked to the object. This is as close to brute force learning as this technique gets. Please note that we only pay attention to the sounds of consonants (p,t,k etc) and not vowels (o, a, u etc). Bike for example would be BK, thus 97.
Memorize these objects to the numbers. Once you are done have a look at this list:
Go ahead and remember this list. This is how I would do it:
Now go ahead, turn away from the screen and take any of the random numbers. You will find you can remember any of them out of order. Imagine when you have 20 pegs. Ask a friend to write down 20 things. Give you 5 minutes and give him the paper. Ask him to speak any of the numbers, and you will be able to remember any of them out of order. Imagine the look on their faces… It’s a great party trick…
The 5 till 10
Now go ahead and try the following ones.
Take your time to learn these pegs properly. Being hasty will do you no good. When you have memorized the ones above. Go through all the first 10 again, to make sure you know them in any order. Only when you are sure of these should you go on to the next ones.
10 until 20
It took me 30 minutes to learn these 20. However it took me 2 days to make sure that I knew them in every order, and could say which was which without delay. Make really really sure that you know these pegs. The stuff you can do with this is absolutely awesome. Besides, it makes for an awesome party trick…
Questions or Remarks?
If you run into trouble, or are just very excited about the techniques leave a comment below. As mentioned in the top of the article you can subscribe below to receive Scott Young’s eBook on learning (really useful!).
Thanks for reading!