There are many memory techniques out there to help you remember all sorts of information. For example, many people say the memory palace technique is the best. A memory palace is a series of locations in a specific order where you store information and then recall it by walking through these locations.
It’s a powerful technique I use all the time, but it has one issue… You need a palace to use it! However, I believe there are 3 top memory techniques everyone should know because they form the basis of all others.
1. The Story Method
Let’s say you have a grocery list to remember for shopping. Most people write down the list or try to memorize it. However, they often leave the paper at home or forget an item at the store. Once, on Thanksgiving, a store clerk told me some people came back 5 times because they kept forgetting items!
The idea behind the story method is you make a story between all the items on the list. You make the story creative, imaginative, and fun to really make the story stand out and memorable. Then to recall all the items on the list, you just recall the story.
Let’s say you have a list of: eggs, milk, chips, and bananas.
You walk into the the story ready to shop but you ran into an egg trying to get a cart. You ran into the egg to hard and the egg starts to crack and a cow burst out of the egg. The cow tries to spray milk everywhere but instead of milk coming out, chips start to fly of the cow. You try to run away from this crazy cow but slip on all these bananas on the floor.
To recall your shopping list, all you have to do is recall the story which should be triggered when you walk into the store.
I am walking into the story and I see this egg trying to get a cart. Egg is one of the items I need to buy. I ran into the egg… You would just continue the story from there until you recalled all the items.
2. The Peg System
Image you are planning your day for tomorrow, but the tasks need to be done in a specific order since some tasks are more important than others. Now most people think they will remember the important tasks since they are IMPORTANT!
Well, it turns out they forget some of the important things and mess up big time! I am totally guilty of this haha This is a situation where you want to remember things in a specific order because you want to do the most important tasks first.
The basic number rhyme system involves creating images for numbers 0 to 9 based on sound, then attaching tasks to these images. For example:
0 - Superhero
1 - Sun
2 - Shoe
3 - Tree
4 - Door
5- Bee hive
6 - Brick
8 - Skate
9 - Mime
Let’s say these are the tasks you have in order of importance:
- Pay electric bill
- Pick up birthday cake
- Wash clothes
- Walk dog
There is a sun laughing while he shoots electricity at me. I have this beautiful birthday cake, but a shoe jumps out of the cake scaring me. A tree is taking a bath in the washing machine and is having fun as it spins around. A door is walking my dog, but my dog is walking too fast and ends up dragging the door.
To recall the tasks and the order of importance, you just have to think of the number. It would look like this:
What is the first thing I have to do today? First is 1 and 1 is sun. Oh, I see this sun shooting electricity at me. I need to pay the electric bill. What is the 2nd thing I need to do? 2nd is 2 and 2 is shoe. That’s right, I see a shoe jumping out of a birthday cake. The next thing I need to do is to pick up the birthday cake. And so on.
Chunking is the simplest technique and is often used naturally. For instance, remembering a long string of digits like 798003168765164651 is challenging. Most people break it down into smaller groups, like how phone numbers are formatted (970-965-8851). Chunking makes large amounts of information more manageable.
Have you seen a phone number? 970-965-8851 A phone number is chunked into parts. If you someone is giving you a phone number, they give you the number by the first 3 digits then pause, the second 3 digits then pause, and finally the last 4 digits.
Chunking alone won’t make memorizing big numbers a simple task but it is something we do naturally because we make the information we are trying to remember seem more manageable.
Some might say these techniques are not all that great since you can’t use them to memorize and learn at a high level which is true to an extent. But these 3 techniques are the foundation most other techniques are based on.
These techniques form the foundation of all other memory techniques. A memory palace is essentially a peg system using familiar locations. Chunking is used in creating systems like card or binary systems, where groupings of cards or digits form the basis of an image code. And most techniques involve creating stories, whether long and elaborate or short and simple.
What do you think are the most important memory techniques and why?
What is your favorite technique to use?
- Story Method
- Peg System
- Memory Palace
- Russian Doll Method
- The Major System