Whether you are an average person wanting to reduce forgetfulness, a university student studying for finals, or an academic thrill seeker wanting to perform mental feats, this list will unlock doorways into your own memory that you’ve probably never witnessed before. These 25 fooproof techniques to enhance your memory have been specially listed, from the basic methods that you can learn overnight to advanced methods that may take weeks to perfect. Although we’d love to explain detailed examples of each technique step-by-step, we didn’t want to make a post so long that it would bore you to death. So, have a tab open for Google, and get ready to memorize like you’ve never done so before!
Chunking is perhaps one of the oldest methods in memorization. It works by breaking down one long complicated bit of information into smaller “chunks” that are easier to remember. Take a phone number, for example. The number 7773451869 can be better memorized by separating it into three parts: 777-345-1869. We can also apply this method to memorizing patterns categorizing groups with similarities.
“Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.” If this sounds familiar, then alliteration is no stranger. Alliteration is the repetition of a same letter or sound at the beginning of closely connected words. This method is most prominently seen in tongue twisters, plays, and poetry. Despite its silly sounds, this method did trigger retention in a study conducted by Brooke Lea of the Department of Psychology, Macalester College.
Try finishing this: “I do not like them Sam-I-am, I do not like…” Whether you are a Dr. Seuss fan or not, “green eggs and ham” would have immediately come to mind. Nursery rhymes and songs engage children during elementary school. And, guess what? It’s the same for adults. Whether we are memorizing a poem by Edgar Allan Poe or singing aloud with the radio to our favorite pop artist, we’ve witnessed rhyming in action. Perhaps, it is the play on words that allow us to make memorizing a few sentences fun.
Acronyms and Acrostics
What do USA, MLK, and LOL all have in common? They are all acronyms. Acronyms are simply words derived from the first letters of whatever phrase is being memorized. Each symbol in an acronym serves as a mental cue for another word. Turn this sequence into a sentence and you have an acrostic. These techniques are extremely common. For example, the acronym above depicts the colors of the rainbow in order. Whoever Roy G. Biv is, I’m sure he’d appreciate that you can memorize the colors of the rainbow without looking it up.
Repetition can be the most effective memory method, but only if you know how to use it. Our brains naturally default to specific neural pathways that allow us to recall certain information more quickly with repetition. Essentially, we convert short term memory into long term. And yes, this method also applies to muscle memory in sports. But in many cases, we simply don’t have all the time in the world to spend on repeating every single bit of information we need to know. While repetition is the most effective method for long-term memory, it is number 21 on this list because most people rely on repetition only as a mindless, monotonous, and time-consuming exercise. But if you combinine a variety of techniques below with repetition, and after conscious review, it will most certainly be a powerful tool.
Organization plays a significant role in memorization, and we’ve all come to find that diagrams help accomplish this role- tables, pie charts, line graphs, you name it. Diagrams summarize information by categories. Not only do they separate similarities and differences in a neat fashion, they also appeal to our spatial memory for convenient recall of information. This technique utilizes the concept of chunking, and it allows us to string together bits of information via detailed characteristics. In classes, you can best utilize this technique by immediately summarizing your notes into one large diagram after every lecture
Lo and behold the idea of study groups is born! After reviewing information, you can enhance retention by teaching, and a group of students serves as the perfect audience. Teaching is an active form of repetition and more importantly, builds confidence in the recalling of information. Study buddies help by critiquing and asking questions, which leads to a better understanding of material. What’s that you say? Your friends are out partying and procrastinating instead of hitting the books? No matter; simply find an empty room and lecture to yourself. Chances are you’ll find many questions that you’ll end up answering on your own.
I use the term “blindfolded” because you won’t be able to refer to your notes when recalling information. This method can be practiced after reading an article or listening to a lecture. In the case of going to a class, make sure you take sufficient notes. Afterward quickly review your notes. Take a few minutes to let the information absorb, and without looking at your notes, close your eyes, and try to recall everything that you went over in lecture. (Essentially you are being “blindfolded”). Don’t give up easily either; try your hardest to remember every detail from the voice of your instructor to your writing on paper. Afterward, review your notes once more. This exercise enhances our ability to recall information through focusing and ignoring distractions. It improves are ability to pay attention, helps us to naturally categorize topics via main ideas, and better prepares us for examinations. You can also perform this technique by writing down everything you recall on a piece of paper
Here, we approach our very first tool for memory enhancement, and I’m talking about beginning to scratch the surface of super memory. Visualization is derived from the fact that concrete images are much easier to remember than raw, abstract information. For example, when we you see the word APPLE, you don’t see the letters A-P-P-L-E in your head. Instead, you visualize an apple. Perhaps, you can see the bright red color of the skin; you can taste its sweet, juicy flavor; you can hear the crunch when you bite into it. Each of our senses contributes a unique characteristic to an image leaving it engrained in our brain. Utilize this technique by applying some sort of concrete image to anything you learn, and make it a daily habit. Trust me; you’ll end up remembering more than you think.
Palming is nothing more than a practice exercise that enhances visualization. The goal is to improve natural eyesight movement through relaxation of the brain, and thereby increasing visual memory. Sit with good posture, keep your back and neck in line, place the palms of your hands over the eyes as shown above, and relax. The specific hand placement is important. There are many variations, but each yield the same concept. You can practice by inventing your own images and visualizing them flowing in your mind. Or better yet, take objects around you, “palm” them into your mind, envision them in different areas, then open your eyes, and visualize them in different locations in your surrounding.
Visual Association in Vocabulary
Our brains store information based on past experiences, and we tend to automatically relate new information to these past events in order to remember them. This is association. However, you can also apply visual association to learn new vocabulary. Take the word ‘risorius,’ for
example. The risorius is a facial muscle that helps make us smile. By breaking down parts of the word, you can create an association. In this case, “Risorius” sounds like “Why-So-serious?” famously spoken by the Joker from the Batman series. And what better way to memorize the function of the risorius, than to picture that wide crimson grin from the Joker, himself. Having this image implanted in your mind whenever the word risorius pops up will guarantee that you never forget it.
Link, Chain , or Story Method
Once you’ve learned how to convert ideas to objects and pictures in your brain, you can now begin “linking” them together. This method is best used for memorizing long lists. Say you want to remember the presidents in order beginning with Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison. With a bit of word manipulation, your story may go like this. A man washes a ton (Washington) of clothes in a river. Suddenly, the river goes dry as he finds that the water has been blocked by two huge dams (Adams) that grew out of the ground. The man asks his “deaf son” (Jefferson) to take the clothes back home, but he can’t hear him. So the dad gets mad at his son (Madison). The fundamental key here is to create a silly story with the images that coincide with the items on your list. Why? Because our brains want to be entertained. The wackier the story line, the easier the story will be to remember.
This revolutionary method of memorization was popularized by creator Tony Buzan in the 1960s. Mind maps are made to utilize both sides of the brain in order to create organized associations with a certain spatial orientation and color. All in all, it is a method that improves recall, creativity, and problem solving. A map always begins in the center of a page with an idea represented by a vivid picture. Branches of information then radiate outward from this idea in order to establish mental connections to that specific central idea. It takes practice and time to make efficient maps. Yet, once one is made, it will likely stick in your memory for a long period of time.
The Peg System
Peg systems are predetermined lists that are best used for memorizing items in a particular order. Each system attaches an image to a basic or commonly known sequence- such as the alphabet or a set of numbers (as you’ll soon find out). The trick here is to use the same image for each “peg.” That way, you retain the order of items simply by attaching it to an image. With appropriate preparation and utilization, you will come to find that this system can store almost infinite amounts of information when mastered. If this sounds confusing, don’t worry. A few detailed methods are incorporated below.
The Alphabet Peg System
The alphabet peg system applies pictures to a sequence that almost everyone knows- the alphabet. The letters can represent animals, or you can make up your own images. Regardless, this method will get you to remember a series of information in exact order. So, unless you’ve never made it pass pre-kindergarten, this method works. As an example, we’ll remember a list of the following errands: walk the dog, mail a letter, and buy a hammer. Using the alphabet, ‘Ape’ represents the letter A. ‘Bean’ represents the letter B. ‘Sea’ represents the letter C, and so on. Now, attach the image to the pegs. Perhaps, you visualize an ape walking your dog, a jumping bean trying to escape a sealed envelope, and finally, attempting to ride your boat over a “sea” completely filled with hammers. Remember, keep the story lines silly! this way, you never forget your list.