How would you rate your memory? Like most of us, probably not so good. Ever heard of Mnemonics?
Ancient Greek history recounts Simonides of Ceos as the catalyst for Mnemonics, the memory technique. After performing a poem at a banquet in Thessaly, Simonides stepped outside, suddenly the entire banquet hall collapsed and killed everyone inside.
With bodies disfigured and unidentifiable, Simonides stunned everyone recalling each guest exactly where they were sitting. Ever since, mnemonics has been practiced. Individuals using mnemonic techniques in the World Memory Championships are known to remember entire dictionaries, numerous decks of cards, and ridiculous sequences of Pi numbers.
Memory is not only a crucial building block for knowledge, but for life itself. While technology makes things easier, we don’t want to completely outsource this mechanism of the brain to the point we’re absolutely dependent upon technology.
You’ll surely see significant improvements in your personal and profession life as you exercise your memory muscle. Here are 7 basic mnemonic techniques:
1. Acrostics & Acronyms.
F.O.C.U.S can be used to remember the phrase “Follow One Course Until Success. “Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge” is often used to remember the music treble clef lines EGBDF.
Create your own acronym and acrostics for phrase or pieces of information you are trying to remember.
2. Staring Is Caring.
To remember names and faces, identify an unusual or prominent feature on a person and tie that together with their name. Maybe you’ve just met Fred with the big nose, unless you’re wanting to get off to a bad start, just say in your head “big nose Fred.” Along with using their name as quickly as possible, you can associate their name with something—Jack can become “Jack-fruit.”
Useful for remembering lists in a specific order; rhymes are used to connect numbers with items.
1 becomes Bun.
To remember a daily schedule of 1) taking the trash out 2) returning books at a library 3) paying bills 4) doing laundry 5) picking up kids from school, you would creatively associate them: bite into a bun that’s filled with trash, put on books as shoes, going to your tree to pay bills, laundry hanging off your front door, pulling your kids out of a beer hive.
4. Sing A Song.
There is probably a song stuck in your head right now. Music has the ability to stick. Think of a jingle or your favorite song and replace the lyrics with what you’re trying to remember.
5. Smash It To Pieces.
Something you’ve already noticed being used, particularly with telephone numbers, is called Chunking, breaking into smaller pieces. The average memory can hold five to seven pieces of information at a given time. So instead of trying to remember 8178847709, it’s broken up 817-884-7709.
Also helpful for long words and phrases—similar to the “Keyword Method” of mnemonics. Med students use this when memorising technical terms. The “trigeminal nerve” is broken up to “tri-gem-inal,” and then adding another association—perhaps think of a triangle in a gem.
6. Tell A Story.
Get creative with this, in fact, the more ridiculous the more likely you’ll remember it. Involve all your senses of touch, taste, sound, sight, and smell. A story about your dog crying uncontrollably and picking up the phone to call your friend Reece to remind you to: get dog food, tissues, pay your phone bill, and buy Reeces Pieces.
7. Go For A Walk.
Mnemonists refer to this as the Loci method or a Memory Palace. The mind is better at remembering visual imagery than words and numbers. Choose a location that you’re very familiar with—your house, or your route to work or school. Then take the information you’re trying to remember and place them in different rooms or different positions on your walk.
You can even use your body—visualize beans falling out your ears to remind you to grab some from the store.
The common thread and key for all these techniques is the amount of associations you’re able to apply. Also, have fun and be creative. Let your imagination run wild.
Further Resources | Great Books on Memory & Mnemonics:
Joshua Foer recounts his journey from being a Journalist to winning the World Memory Championships in Moonwalking With Einstein.
The Memory Book by Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas