The ability to remember things, such as names or lists of items, is a key tool that can be used to help anyone succeed. Most people’s memory exists only in a very basic form, but did you know that you can train your mind to easily remember long lists, the names and faces of the people that you meet, vocabulary words, and many other things? It’s true! Once you master memory techniques it can revolutionize the way you conduct business and live your life!
There is no such thing as a good memory or a bad one, it’s either trained or untrained. – The Memory Book
Three Ways of Remembering
There are three ways we generally remember things. These methods are called Rote, Mnemonics, and Memory Techniques. Descriptions of these methods are listed below:
- Rote – This is the way most of us grew up learning; our brain is naturally accustomed to remembering things this way. When you read something over and over, it will hopefully be permanently engrained into your mind. In order to determine if you truly learned the material you take a test on it to see how well you retain the information. It takes a long time to remember things this way and in my opinion it is a very boring way to learn. Most people keep these study habits for their entire lives and think this is the only way to lock information into our minds.
- Mnemonics – These are things like acrostics or acronyms that enable us to remember things in an easier way. For example, in math we hear “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally” (or sometimes you hear the acronym PEMDAS) to help us remember the order of operations. Mnemonics are useful and fun to use at times but they are not the most effective way to learn and remember information.
- Memory Techniques – Here is what this article is all about. Memory Techniques are EXTREMELY effective and if you want to be on the elite level of learning and retaining new material, then read on.
I came across memory techniques when I was reading a book called “See You at the Top” by Zig Ziglar. Zig recommended a book called “The Memory Book” by Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas. I got it shortly after and I couldn’t put it down. I studied it thoroughly and practiced each section. From then on my life has never been the same. My study habits are very fun and I learn at a rate that I have never been able to do in my entire life. You can get your own copy of this amazing book on Amazon here: The Memory Book: The Classic Guide to Improving Your Memory at Work, at School, and at Play (affiliate link).
You can apply memory techniques to pretty much every area of your life, from memorizing numbers, to memorizing names and faces. I am talking hundreds of numbers and hundreds of names and faces not just a few. Jerry Lucas, one of the authors of The Memory Book graduated top of his class during college. He states in the book that he out-scored everyone in class with a quarter of the time everyone else spent in study.
An Example of how to use Memory Techniques
Scenario: You have a list of five items you need to get for an athletic event you are going to compete in.
- Water Bottle
- Shoe laces
- Athletic tape
- Sweat band
A list of five items are simple to remember just by reading it or writing it on a piece of paper and carrying it with you, but for this example I am only going to do five items to show you how memory techniques work. When you get to a list of one hundred items or more, memory techniques will still be able to keep up.
The first memory technique that I’m going to teach you is called the link system because you are going to link each image together using your imagination, which will enable you to remember your list to an incredible degree. Three ways you are going to use your imagination are going to be picturing images in your mind by multiplying them, making them distorted or cartoonish, or out of proportion. The images have to be tangible, there are ways to make any word tangible but for the purpose of this article I am going to use a list of items that we can easily visualize. If you want to learn how to make words tangible then I recommend you research the Substitute Word System. This alternate Memory Technique is subject of another article.
We will start with the first two: Water bottle/Shoe Laces. I am going to visualize a crowd of people all drinking from their water bottles, but instead of water in the bottle it’s full of shoe laces and they are drinking shoe laces down. At first this might seem odd to you or a bit foolish, but when you see the image in your mind, it makes you remember it much better. The trick is to make it so unordinary that there is no way that it’s possible or likely to happen. The crazier you create the picture in your mind the better.
Next, we are going to visualize Shoe Laces/Athletic Tape. I visualize an entire sports team on the bench rolling up athletic tape and trying to fit them through the holes in their shoes where the laces go. I see them having a very hard time making the strands of tape small enough to use as laces. You can even imagine the stadium laughing at them as they attempt this.
Next is Athletic Tape/Whistle. I see a giant referee, 20 feet tall trying to blow his whistle, but instead of using a whistle it’s a roll of athletic tape and it’s not working and he keeps trying harder and harder with no success. This image makes me laugh and that’s a good thing because when images are comical it helps you remember them better.
Last is Whistle/Sweat Band. I visualize a basketball game and the players are not people they are whistles with hands and legs and they all have over sized sweat bands wrapped around them. As they try to play they keep dragging their sweat bands around.
Now I have my link and it has been put into my mind a lot stronger than if I had only glanced over the list. Now I want to review my list so I go back through my link. One note is if you want to remember where you start you would associate for example List/Water Bottle so you would know where the beginning of your list is.
First item is water bottle which that reminds me of drinking shoe laces
Next is shoe laces which reminds me of players getting laughed at trying to use athletic tape.
Next is athletic tape which reminds me of a 20 foot referee using it as a whistle with no success.
Next is a whistle which reminds me of whistles playing basketball dragging around sweat bands as they play.
As I said above, five items are easy enough that you can use rote, but the link method will work much more effectively when you have a much larger list.
There is a lot more you can do using memory techniques, but in essence all of them have some form of association as we used in the link system. Memory techniques are very effective and I recommend The Memory Book to anyone who is interested in training their memory and using their mind in ways that most people have no idea of. These techniques have made learning fun for me and have allowed me to use my imagination which transitioned my habit of day dreaming to an advantageous practice. I hope they will work for you as well.
Other Great Books on Learning Memory Techniques (Affiliate Links)
Get these great titles on Amazon today!
How to Learn Almost Anything in 48 Hours by Tansel Ali
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on the links we may make a commission at no additional cost to you.