5 Tricks to Help You Memorise Anything
The subtle art of harnessing the full potential of your memory
Whether it’s a grocery list or a string of tricky scientific terms, memory plays an important role in our day to day lives. If you’ve been blessed with a good memory, remembering things may be a walk in the park—though for the rest of us, a little help can go a long way in improving the way things stick in our brains. We’ve compiled five awesome ways that you can strengthen those memory muscles, whether for your studies, day to day life or even to learn a neat party trick!
1) Word association
One of the most powerful ways you can remember lists of specific words, and even numbers, is by assigning related images to each of the list members and forming one big, crazy image or scene.
For example, you may be trying to remember the ingredients of a cake: flour, sugar, butter, eggs, baking powder and milk. Flour may remind you of a flower, which is growing in a field of lollipops sticking up from the ground (symbolising the sugar). Butter is yellow, the colour of the sun, so it sits in the sky in your image, and there are chickens (eggs) and cows (milk) that are growing bigger and bigger as they walk around (baking powder) the flowers and lollipops. Voila! With this vibrant image in your head, recalling a cake’s ingredients becomes a piece of cake!
2) The Loci method—A.K.A The Mind Palace Technique
This technique may be familiar for all you fans of the super sleuth Sherlock, involving the much quipped concept of a ‘mind palace’. This involves using visualisations of places you’re already familiar with to store potentially huge amounts of information. To use this technique, you’ll first need to choose your mind palace—it should be a place you know very well and would be able to mentally walk through with ease (for example, a childhood street).
A route is often more effective than just a still image within the ‘palace’. You will then need to recall distinctive features about this place, analysing it methodically. The place and its features should be imprinted clearly on your mind. You then make image associations, similar to what was talked about **above** with whatever you are trying to memorise and certain ‘physical’ landmarks within your palace (eg. If you are remembering eggs, there may be scrambled eggs on your ‘kitchen table’). Ideally, the objects/numbers should be so well connected with areas within the ‘palace’ that you are familiar with that they can be recalled readily by merely thinking of parts of your palace.
3) Musical memory
Music can be one of the most powerful ways to memorise things, as there are so many components of our interaction with it. Ever gotten a song stuck in your head? Harmonies, melodies and rhythms are often what stays with us the longest after hearing a catchy tune, and associated lyrics, with enough exposure can also be mentally-fused alongside these. With this in mind, why not take advantage of the powers of music to help you memorise things? Even a list of things as large as the countries of the world can be mastered through music!
4) Master some Mnemonics
Mnemonics are fantastic ways to memorise systems of information that would otherwise be quite difficult to recall. By taking the first letter, first few letters or even key sounds from each of the terms being learned and forming each of the resulting words into a quirky sentence or story makes it far easier to recall—similar to the technique of word association.
For example—memorising the specific terms and order of the hierarchy of life could prove quite difficult to learn on their own– kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus and species. However, using the mnemonic ‘Kings Play Chess On Fine Gold Squares’, the terms can be remembered without too much difficulty.
5) Interval repetition
Memorising something for the short term is one thing, but if you wish to retain as much as what you attempt to memorise as possible, it’s vital that you have a system of spaced repetition for the information you have just learned.
It is recommended that if you wish to store information for the short term, you revise information straight after learning, after around 20 minutes, after 6-8 and again once more after 24 hours after your initial learning of the info. If you want to store things in your long term memory it recommended that you revise once again straight after learning, and subsequently with larger intervals in between—30 minutes after, after a day, after 2-3 weeks and again after 2-3 months.
There you have it! With these 5 tricks, you should find that your memory is able to improve quite substantially given a bit of time and practice. Remember also to stay hydrated, eat well and get lots of sleep—these are perhaps the biggest factors affecting your ability to store things in your brain!