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Techniques to Develop your MemoryHow good is your memory? Here's a list of twenty items for you to study. Carefully read through the list for two minutes, then get a piece of paper and write down as many of the twenty items as you can remember - without looking back at the screen!
Apple, peach, drum, settee, snake, chair, table, trousers, wallet, tennis racquet, football, video, CD, chocolate, curtains, TV, keyboard, paper, computer, aeroplane
How many did you recall? If you get around half or more, then you can be pleased with your achievements.
Of course, we've all heard of memory experts who can effortlessly learn lists of items or very long numbers - and even several packs of cards at once.
The assumption tends to be that these people were born with incredible memories, but the fact is that a good memory can be trained and you can increase your ability to remember no end with some simple techniques.
The key element with systems that help you remember is one word: association. Rather than just trying to learn a list literally as a series of bullet points, these systems connect and tie-in each element with a story of some sort, or perhaps a journey.
So, the first step to implement this method in a very simple fashion is to have a journey or story with as many elements as there are in your list.
For instance, think about your daily routine - there is probably a series of steps that you do every day without thinking about it:
- alarm clock goes off, you look at it and see the time in horror: morning already
- get out of bed, visit the bathroom
- go downstairs, boil the kettle
- make a cup of tea
- get out the breakfast cereal and milk
- pull back the curtains
- go back upstairs and get dressed
and so on... we all tend to have several routines, so the simplest way is to use one of your routines as the story or anchor that you associate with as it is already firmly embedded in your memory.
The next step is to attach each word from the list you want to remember to an element of the journey. To do this, rather than just say 'I look at the alarm clock - apple' create a mental image that is very memorable and imagine it as vividly in your head as you can - this will help you remember the list.
So, for instance, imagine that when you look at the alarm clock on waking, you are surprised and confused to see apples arranged in the shape of the time on the clock rather than the usual electronic display. Then when you open the bathroom door, you are almost knocked backwards by a massive pile of peaches that were up against the door and all fell out when you opened the door.
Really imagine the images in your head and make them as silly and as memorable as you can - also feel free to involve other senses in the mental image.
Then to recall the list, simply recall your journey, and because of the wonders of association, when you remember each step on your journey the associated images will also come to mind.
Try it now - write down your familiar journey and formulate it into twenty steps. Now go through and create your own mental picture, imagining as vividly as you can each step on the journey. Once you imagine your surprise at opening the cereal box only to see a huge snake slither out making a hissing sound, you are unlikely to forget it from the list again!
Once you have created the journey and done the association, you will be surprised how you can come back to the list in the future and remember it. Even if you were able to commit most of the items to memory without this method, you will find at best it commits the items to short-term memory. But this new association method is great for long-term memory. It is not uncommon to be able to recall the whole list years later using this method.