Most people would love a better memory, whether it’s to learn facts and figures for an exam or to make sure you never forget an important phone number. Fortunately there are several simple tricks to make memorizing absolutely anything easier than ever before, without any of the hard work that brain training involves.
1. Use Visual Images.
Associating a picture with whatever you want to remember can be an extremely effective memory technique, as you’ll be recruiting an extra part of your brain to help out. For example, if you need to remember that the British Prime Minister during WWII was Winston Churchill, you could imagine a proud, undamaged church atop a hill with bombs falling all around.
2. Method Of Loci.
The method of locial utilizes your visual memory, but is most effective for memorizing lists. The idea is to imagine each individual item on your list arranged along a journey you know well.
So to commit your shopping list to memory, you could try picturing your groceries dotted along your commute to work. There could be a bunch of bananas on the steering wheel, bottles of milk all over the first intersection and loaves of bread in the parking lot. Then all you have to do is visualize your daily commute and you should be able to recall the items as you go along.
Information is easier to remember if you can turn it into a rhyme, and it shouldn’t take long to come up with something that works. It doesn’t have to be a work of poetic genius, it just has to stick in your head! ‘In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue’ is a great example – every child learns the rhyme, so everyone remembers the fact.
Forming a word from the first letters of the things you need to remember won’t always be possible, but the technique can be veryuseful if there is a convenient word. In first aid courses, the acronym RICE (standing for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) is often used to help people remember the standard treatment fora sprain or strain.
Using alliteration – where every word begins with the same consonant sound – can give your memory that little extra something to hold on to. Alliterative names like Ronald Reagan or Marilyn Monroe are easier to recall than non-alliterative names, and thousands of businesses use this trick to make their brand names more memorable – Coca-Cola, PayPal and Dunkin’ Donuts are all good examples.
Acrostics involve taking the first letter of each word that you need to remember and creating a memorable sentence from other words starting with those letters. Funny, rude or ridiculous acrostics are particularly effective!
Memorizing the planets in order of distance from the Sun is one of the classic examples – ‘My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nothing’ becomes Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
Whether you’re trying to memorize a phone number, your credit card number or any other long string of digits, you’ll find it much easier if you break it up into smaller chunks. Most people can only hold seven individual items in their short-term memory, but if those items are chunks of numbers, then you can store far more than seven numbers in total. For example, it’s far easier to memorize 555-428-6031 than it is to memorize 5554286031 as a whole.
Using these techniques won’t magically boost your brainpower or give you the memory of Rain Man overnight, but it will enable you to use your current cognitive abilities more effectively. None of the ideas above are difficult, so try them out for yourself and be amazed by how much more you can remember.