By: Ken Austin
You are walking down the aisles of the grocery store in what appears to be a daze; at home you were so clear on the three items you needed, but as soon as you arrived at the store, your mind became a blank canvas and you are desperately hoping for a sliver of memory as you walk down the sections of the store.
Similarly, you are running errands and have the nagging feeling in the back of your mind that you are forgetting something really, really important. Two hours later you remember: your dentist’s appointment -- for which you are now one hour late.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to remember these little things without the need of copious sticky notes, reminder messages on the voice mail, and other mnemonic aids? Is it even possible to remember so much? The answer is a resounding yes, and five simple ways will help you to remember practically everything!
First and foremost, determine what amount of information you would like to remember. Let’s take the grocery list we mentioned earlier. A relatively short list of items (such as the three things most commonly found on a shopping list: milk, eggs, and bread) can still be a stumbling block to many.
Larger lists, such as an entire shopping list for a week’s worth of groceries, will require different methods of memorization, while very large lists, such as a shopping trip with a large shopping list and a variety of other errands that accompany the trip to the grocery store will again make use of a different technique. Once you have determined the amount of information to be remembered, you may now link this information with an adequate memorization tool
Know how to remember short lists. Short lists are perfect for the “link method” which is a very simple yet effective mnemonic technique. Using the items of your shopping list, create associations between them and a vivid image containing these very items.
Thus, a list containing “milk, eggs, and bread” may suggest the image of a farm, where wheat is ground into flour to make bread, while the farmer’s wife is milking the cows and collecting the eggs from the henhouse. Since all the items naturally fit into the above scenario, it will be easy to retrieve this information.
Remember the medium sized lists. If you are attempting to remember the shopping list for an entire week‘s worth of groceries, for example, you may wish to employ the “Roman room system.” Using this tool, you are encouraged to imagine a room in which all of the items on your list are strategically placed. You may wish to imagine your kitchen, for example, with its refrigerator, stove, and cabinets.
Imagine yourself opening the refrigerator and seeing milk, eggs, and yogurt. For unusual items, such as chestnuts, you may wish to add an open fire to your imaginary kitchen, over which chestnuts are roasting. Water chestnuts, on the other hand, may be remembered as roasting over an open fire located underneath your sink. In your imagination there is no end to the possibilities!
A mental map will help you to remember not only the trip to the grocery store, but also the trip to the dentist’s office, veterinary clinic, dry cleaner’s, and gas station. Picture a town square with a tree. In this tree is a cat, while underneath it a car is parked. The car has a vanity plate with two teeth, and inside hangs some dry cleaning. If you picture this town square with this particular tree as vivid as possible, you will have not problem remembering to run all the other errands that are tied into your trip of the grocery store.
The fifth and final way to easily remember practically everything is the avid use of acrostics. While these little sayings may actually involve the use of pencil and paper, they are powerful indeed, and will eventually be remembered easier than the litany of information they actually contain.
Simply use the first letter of each word you are trying to remember and then use these letters to make a complete sentence. “Go East Lad, Never Down” may be a very useful acrostic to help you remember the names of the first five book of the Hebrew Bible, namely, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Number, and Deuteronomy.