What’s the biggest problem with memory tricks? Remembering to use them, of course. There are many memory techniques that work well, but you’ll forget them when you need them most – unless you make using them a habit. So when you take the time to learn a technique, use it until it becomes automatic. Here are some to try.
Using a Story-List
I went to a party as a child. There was a game that involved looking at a table covered in 15 various items. After a few minutes, we were taken to another room, and each child was given paper and a pencil. We had to write down as many items as we could remember. I recalled seven or eight, but one boy won the prize by remembering all 15 items.
Years later I learned why he won. His father taught him a simple trick that none of us other kids knew. The technique is to tie the items together in an imaginative story. For example, what if you want to remember a list of the following things: Soap, milk, honey, fork, and flowers.
Start a vivid story in your imagination, adding each item to it as you go: At the sink, you reach for the SOAP. The soap dish is full of MILK, so you wash your hands in that. Then you comb HONEY into your hair with a FORK, and finally pick up a bouquet of FLOWERS and smile at the mirror. Say each item while mentally reviewing your “movie,” and you’ll remember all five things, even the next day.
Some Other Memory Tricks
Tell yourself to remember. When you learn a person’s name, for example, tell yourself, “remember that”. This signals your unconscious mind to rank this input as more important.
Know WHY you want to remember something, and HOW you’ll remember it. To remember a person, for example, ask why they’ll be important to you in the future, imagine where you’ll see them next, and connect that to anything you notice about them. Seeing the importance of remembering really helps, and additional associations (where you expect to see the person next) set the memory more firmly in your brain.
Do you ever forget where you put your car keys? You’ve probably tried retracing your steps, at least doing it in your imagination. This can work well, but even better is to prevent the forgetting beforehand. When you set the keys on the chair, see yourself walking in and setting the keys on the chair. You won’t forget where they are.
There are many more of these memory tricks. If you want them to be useful, though, don’t just read about them. Make a memory technique or two into a habit, starting today.