A very effective memory technique

I often find myself in a situation where I need to take a note of something but it isn’t really possible at the time. It is either that I don’t have any piece of paper on me or it would be rude to take out my phone to put it down there. In such moments a little known memory technique comes in with a helping hand. I want to share this with you. Its effectiveness is due to the mode of action in the brain neurons. It works perfectly when a piece of paper is missing.

Its greatest advantage is that you can plan exactly when and where a given fact is going to cross your mind.

For example, you can plan a given fact to come to your mind while you’re leaving the house, at the end of the class, when entering a shop, at the moment when the alarm sets off, etc. Because of that, after remembering one thing you don’t have to think about it again, knowing that it will pop up in your head in the right, planned before moment.

What is this technique all about?

This is a visualization technique. Using it involves the creation of connotations in one’s mind and influencing every sense (we will mainly affect the sight, touch and hearing). If you cannot do it well yet, read the article on the art of visualization. This technique is very similar to the method of creating associations in order to memorize the vocabulary of a foreign language.

The easiest way understand it will be by providing an example. Suppose you have an important phone call to make and you want to make this call as soon as you get home. In the first case, for example, imagine a door handle of your front door along with a picture of your phone. It is important that both of these items were on the same image. So you can imagine that you are standing at the door and looking at the handle, and you see that there is also a telephone.

It can be glued to the door, hung on it, whatever. Let the image be vivid and clear. Visualize this for a moment and then add another sense - hearing. Let the sound occur at the same time of the door handle being pressed or opened - the phone ringing. Remember, you have to hear it. Both sounds must occur simultaneously. After a few seconds, add the touch to the visualization - feel the handle and the phone in your hands. You can feel it all at once or you can also feel the handle and the phone quickly one after another. Imagine it for a while more and then end it.

And that's it! You can do something else and be sure that you remember about making that phone call. Why did I choose this example? This is how I tested this method for the first time. After this exercise I started doing something else and completely forgot about this important phone call.

I haven’t thought about that call since doing the excercise and I would have totally forgotten about it if it wasn’t for the door handle...! As soon as I saw and touched it, a big sign of a phone appeared in my mind and I screamed "PHONE CALL!". I was stunned by the effectiveness of this technique.

It works in a variety of situations in which a sheet of paper wouldn’t be helpful anyway. Examples? When you want to remember to say something to somebody when you meet them, to get something from the shop, take something with you when leaving the house. In such moments, even a note wouldn’t do but creating an association in your mind always works.

How does it work? In one of the last posts I wrote a little about the activities of neurons. You probably know that when the two stimuli appear together, connections between the neurons are formed. When the stimulation is strong enough, associations formed are so powerful that later activation of a stimulus activates the second stimulus. And that is precisely the effect of this technique. In short we can say that the representation of the door handle visualized in our brain creates a strong visual connection with the representation of the phone. The fact that we use for that three or more of the senses is also important, because it allows the information to be recorded in different parts of the brain.

Finally, there are three important things to consider when using this technique:

- At the beginning, when creating an effective association you will need about half a minute, but with time you will get better and better at this, and you will do it faster.

- Make sure that your images are ridiculous and absurd. Referring to my example - I thought it was a good idea to imagine my phone, dancing on the door handle to the rhythm of its ringtone :-)

- Remember that if you want to save some actions or activities, either way you visualize objects. In my example, entering the house and making a phone call were the actions, and the objects I chose to visualize were a door handle and a telephone. Other objects could be, for instance, a wicket and the person you want to call. Visualization would be quite different, but the purpose would remain the same.

Try it yourself and let me know in the comment section below how it worked out for you!

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