Here’s a simple but very effective way to memorise a number of items in order, without writing them down. The ancient Greeks invented this technique so they could remember their public speeches and it’s officially known as the Loci System.
All you need is a journey or a route you already know well. Then by mentally linking the items you want to remember to points along the route, you’ll be able to recall them not just in the original order, but backwards too.
Here’s how to do it:
Decide on the route you’re going to use. It should have as many stop-off points as there are items on your list. It could be a walk you take every day, or just a mental journey around your house, room by room. The key is you need to know it very well.
What’s your first landmark (or room)? Let’s say it’s your front door.
What’s the first item you’d like to remember? Let’s say it’s vegetarian sausages.
Now – and here’s the key – use your imagination to link an image of sausages, to your front door. You might think of the door as being totally covered in sausages, including the handle which squidges in your hand as you open the door …. Or perhaps there are giant sausages swinging from the ceiling that bash into you as you try to get out. Whatever image you choose make it UNFORGETTABLE. Crazy, action-packed and full of noise and maybe even smells.
Now repeat step 4 for your next item, at the next location.
And do this again and again until you’ve created images for everything on your list.
Now test yourself! Take yourself back to the beginning of your route and think of your first location: your front door. And what item do you see there? (Correct answer: sausages. Easy!)
Advantages of this system:
Even if you forget one of the items, you can skip onto the next one no problem.
Use this technique for:
- Remembering what to get at the shops.
- Memorising a to-do list you think up while you’re on the running machine at the gym.
- Memorising key points you want to make when you’re giving a talk or a presentation (the Ancient Greeks invented this system, and used it for exactly this).
- Remembering lists for revision – for example the abiotic factors in biology that limit a species’ success.
Transform your humble memory route into a ‘Memory Palace’ by progressively adding in more and more memorable landmarks along the way.