How To Memorize ANYTHING!

Improve Your Memory!

How To Remember Anything Part I

Now where did I put my notes for this hub???  Just kidding.  Our capacity for memory, and how to improve our memory, has been one of my hobbies since I was young.  I have read books written by memory masters like by Tony Buzan and Henry Lorayne.  I have researched memory championship challenges like those conducted by Memoriad.  What I learned enabled me to get high grades through school and in college.  But in spite of the incalculable benefits of memory improvement…it is rarely taught any more.  This is a tragedy.  Memory is such a foundational skill, relevant to virtually every field of study that no one can afford to leave this potential underdeveloped.  And anyone can do it!  I am going to write a series of hubs on memory improvement tricks, tips and techniques.  What could you do with an improved memory? Anything you want! 

  • Remember names and faces with perfect accuracy. 
  • Know every single one of your friend’s phone numbers by heart. 
  • Recall all 50 States, with their Capitals, along with the appropriate State bird, flower, and slogan! 
  • Remember every U.S. President in order along with their dates of inauguration! 
  • Go to the store with a list of 30 things…all in your head…perfectly arranged and organized without a paper list! 
  • Recall with razor sharp accuracy the date of every significant annual event. 
  • Or simply remember where you parked your car or put your keys. 

The possibilities are endless. 

 

Memory By Linking or Association

And it is easy.  Most of what you need to memorize anything…you already know!  You just need someone to tell you how.  That is what I intend to do.  To prove to you how easy it is I am going to teach you how to memorize any list of 10 items.  This is just the starting place, but it will lay down some of the fundamental principles.  We could do much more than 10.  What I tell you could enable you to learn 100 items just as easily.  But we will start with just 10.  And all you need to memorize these 10 things is your imagination.

Let’s say you need to get 10 things from Wal-Mart on the way home from work.  Here are the 10 things on your shopping list:

1) Vacuum Cleaner bags

2) Shampoo

3) Motor oil

4) Computer Paper

5) Fish food

6) A birthday present

7) Pepsi

8) Toilet Paper

9) Cash from the ATM machine

10) Your prescription from the pharmacy

Now, what I am going to teach you is something called “association” or sometimes it is called “linking”.  You are going to use your natural imagination to “link” one item to the next.  We are going to create some absurd and silly pictures in your mind to bring them together.  And when we are done, you will recall each and every one of these items in order…effortlessly.

 

 

The first 3 memory links:

Link #1: Let’s begin with the vacuum cleaner bags. We are going to “link” a mental picture of a vacuum bag with the next item, which happens to be shampoo. So, picture yourself in the shower. Don’t be bashful…we can’t see you! You are washing your hair, but with the content of a dirty vacuum bag! Gross! Can you see it? Your hairdresser will never forgive you. But this picture will most certainly bring you from remembering the vacuum bag to remembering shampoo. The image will stick! Now you have remembered the vacuum bags and shampoo.

Link #2: Next picture yourself dumping shampoo into the oil tank of your car. I only recommend doing this in your imagination! Squeeze that whole bottle of oil right into the tank. Yep, that will be one clean oil filter! But look…you have now linked the shampoo to oil for your car. You will remember this. The image is vivid…and memorable. You have moved from remembering shampoo to remembering motor oil

Link #3: Next, picture yourself pouring motor oil over the computer paper which is in your printer. What a mess! The oil is running all over the paper, dripping on the floor, soaking into everything! Disgusting! Better hope that you clean it up before your spouse gets home! But look! You have now moved mentally from the oil to computer paper! Can you recall the first 3 items? Can you picture yourself pouring the contents of the vacuum bag onto your hair…which reminds you of shampoo…which you are pouring into your car’s oil tank? Vacuum bags, shampoo, oil, and paper. Four items…simply and easily linked in your mind.

 

 

The next 3 memory links:

Link #4:           Now, take a slice of that computer paper and tear off little bits to feed to your fish!  Shred it almost like confetti and sprinkle it all over the top of the fish tank.  Those hungry little fish are in for quite a treat!  Ugghh.  Definitely not the most appetizing meal for your wet little pet.  However…the image of sprinkling shredded computer paper into their tank will surely remind you to get them some real food!  From paper to fish food…another mental link has been made.  Congratulations…you are half way there!  You are discovering how to improve your memory with simple, albeit silly, mental pictures.

Link #5:           Now you need to move from the fish food to a birthday present.  Sorry, I can’t tell you what to get for your husband, wife, or child for their birthday.  You know them better than I do anyway.  But I CAN get you to picture an enormous can of fish food with a HUGE birthday bow wrapped around it.  Make the image ridiculously big.  The jar of fish food should be the size of a large outdoor trashcan.  Now picture it all decorated up with a pretty bow like a gift.  Bingo…you have just remembered to shop for a birthday present!  Good luck.  Don’t be cheap (I just saved you the money of buying a memory book…so you have more to spend on that gift!).  Can you recall the pictures from these first 6 items?  Can you see the images you imagined as we have moved from vacuum cleaner bags to shampoo to motor oil to computer paper to fish food to birthday present?  Do you see how easy this is?  Let’s keep going.

Link #6:           Next picture “so and so” opening up their birthday present.  Imagine their surprise when inside they see you got them a 2 Liter bottle of Pepsi!  Just what they always wanted!  How thoughtful of you!  Not diamond earrings or a spa treatment or a 50 inch Plasma TV.  Nope, you just got them a nice big bottle of genuine Pepsi Cola.  Don’t expect anything much for Christmas this year!  But that is okay.  It is the thought that counts.  And these thoughts are helping you link this list together.  Keep it up!

 

 

The last 3 memory links:

Link #7:  We need to get from Pepsi to Toilet paper now.  Remember, the sillier these pictures are, the easier they are to remember.  You don’t remember what you had from lunch 3 days ago.  It was ordinary and thus not memorable.  But you can probably recall something from “America’s Funniest Home Videos” that you saw a year ago!  Why?  It was silly, different, unusual or unexpected.  That is how our memory works.  So, picture a can of Pepsi on the roll where the toilet paper should be!  You are spinning the Pepsi can around…but no paper is coming.  In fact, it is spraying Pepsi everywhere!  You keep spinning and it keeps spraying.  This crazy image will move you from the Pepsi in the previous link to toilet paper…which is the next thing on your list.

Link #8:           You are starting to get the idea by now.  So I’ll make these last 2 short but sweet.  Toilet paper is coming out of the ATM machine where the cash should come out.  Tons of toilet paper!  Pouring out onto the floor around your feet and filling the store!  You are pushing buttons to try to stop it…but nothing works.  Got the link?  See the picture?  Do a quick review.  Think through the list and the pictures 1 more time: Vacuum cleaner bags…shampoo…motor oil…computer paper…fish food…birthday present…Pepsi…toilet paper…cash from the ATM.  See every picture.  Make the mental image vivid.  It will stick.

Link #9:           Finally, picture cash dropping from the ceiling of your local pharmacy.  The pharmacist is running around trying to grab all the money because he didn’t get a raise this year and he isn’t making as much money on hubpages as he had hoped…yet!  Cash to pharmacy.  You now will remember to pick up that prescription.  Please don’t forget!  We put them back on the shelf after 10 days…and then it will have to be filled from scratch again. 

 

 

You Did It! You have begun the road to memory improvement!

There you have it! You created 9 links which hold together 10 items. You can recall them with ease. In fact, if you have really pictured them and created these silly images…I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that you will remember them tomorrow too! I have taught you how to remember virtually anything!  Try it with your own list. Are you going to the grocery store? Link your list. With some practice, the silly images will come faster and clearer. You will be able to recall any number of items no matter how long the list. This is just the first of several important memory techniques. Hope you have enjoyed it!

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Comments 46 comments

Stephanie Phillips 7 years ago

Hi, I was just wondering how you were able to remember all the crazy drug names through school. I am in my 4th year of my science degree, and am horrible at memorizing. I am more logical, once I understand something I will never forget it. But there are those odd times when I need to memorize, cycles, scientific names and things I can barely pronounce..How do I link those together in a crazy, silly story..Thanks! :)


pharmacist profile image

pharmacist 7 years ago from Whitinsville, MA Author

Stephanie,

GREAT question. In my opinion, and I have learned this from other "memory" instructors, the key is to make an association that SOUNDS like the word you are trying to memorize, and then LINK it to something that defines it or explains it. For example, say I wanted to remember that the drug Fluoxetine could cause weight gain. The drug name is hard enough to recall. BUT I could PICTURE an OX that FLEW on TIME. FLEW OX on TIME sounds enough like fluoxetine to make it stick. Now I just have to picture that Ox is VERY FAT!! Now I have the drug name and the effect. The sillier the association or picture the better it will stick...that is how our memory works. Hope that helps. Good luck in your studies.


Ken 7 years ago

How to remember the associations to remember the things they link to?

In the example for fluoxetine, how do I remember that I had used the fat ox as the association after a long while?


pharmacist profile image

pharmacist 7 years ago from Whitinsville, MA Author

Hi Ken. The key seems to be frequent repetition of the links and images (e.g. 5 times daily) for a while, and then slowly tapering down the repetition (once a week...once a month..etc). Eventually...it sticks...like any other permanent memory like your name, address or phone number.

Good question. Hope that helps.

Jason


marc ymel 6 years ago

do eating can make your memory well?

if yes examples are?

how well it is?


pharmacist profile image

pharmacist 6 years ago from Whitinsville, MA Author

Hi Marc,

I am unaware of any clinically proven foods or supplements for memory improvement. Of course, that does not stop supplement makers from making some outrageous claims. Diet and/or exercise may play a roll. But I think the most important thing is just to keep using your memory. Use it or lose it. Always be memorizing something. Verses, dates, anything. This will be the best way to improve. Practice, practice, practice.

Jason


scheng1 6 years ago

I learnt mind-mapping in one of company's sponsored training. Just too bad that it wasn't taught in school anymore, could have saved us a lot of time in studying.


pharmacist profile image

pharmacist 6 years ago from Whitinsville, MA Author

Hi Scheng1,

It really is surprising that they do not teach a memorization class of any sort in most grade schools or high schools. Too often it is just looked at as a skill you either "have or you don't have." That just isn't true. It can be learned, as you discovered, and just about anyone can vastly improve their memory with a few tricks.

Thanks for the comment,

Jason


???? 6 years ago

how do you memorise dates ,then?


pharmacist profile image

pharmacist 6 years ago from Whitinsville, MA Author

Hi ????,

This article did not address dates. That is a very good question. The answer that most experts seem to give is that you must use a method to convert numbers to words or pictures. You can do this several ways. I have a "picture" in my mind for every number, 1-10. With these pictures you can create a scene for any number, however long, using basically the same "linking" technique described above. Hope that helps! Thanks for a great question!


???? 6 years ago

But how do you remember the pictures of your numbers and the numbers of your pictures?

thanks anyway


pharmacist profile image

pharmacist 6 years ago from Whitinsville, MA Author

????,

I highly recommend you pick up a copy of "The Memory Book" by Harry Lorayne. You will find an awesome system described in great detail for memorizing numbers, dates, etc. Best wishes!


Rita CA 6 years ago

Just wanted to pop you a quick comment and say Wow! Thanks for sharing your knowledge! This is very interesting. Memorizing CAN be taught!


pharmacist profile image

pharmacist 6 years ago from Whitinsville, MA Author

Rita,

Yes...it CAN be taught. Sadly it isn't. And this is just one technique. There are many more.


Kim 6 years ago

Thank you for the suggestions! I am in nursing school presently, and am about to start pharmacology. I was intimidated at the thought of having to learn all of the drug names. What you shared will help. Do you have any other suggestions?


pharmacist profile image

pharmacist 6 years ago from Whitinsville, MA Author

Hi Kim,

Flashcards...lots of flashcards :) You'll do great I'm sure!! Best wishes!


Elwyn Richards 6 years ago

Hi Jason,

I'm from the UK and I'm passionate about committing to memory everything about the USA,which for me is the best country on the planet. So can you tell me,Jason, if your system would enable me to remember the geography,history,including dates etc of the USA?

Thanks.


pharmacist profile image

pharmacist 6 years ago from Whitinsville, MA Author

Hi Elwyn,

This system I describe, known as "linking" has a wide variety of applications. As for memorizing dates and numbers, there are other techniques, and any good book on memorization will teach them. The simplest is just to create a mental "picture" for each number 1-10 (e.g. 1 = wand (looks like a wand), 2 = bicycle (has 2 wheels)). Then, with these images firmly in place, you can link them to create any date. Best wishes!


Rupert O'Neill 6 years ago

First of all, this is awesome, thanks so much for sharing. I've read 3 of harry lorayne books and then moved to Kenneth Higbee's. So basically i learned all those PEG, Loci, and phonetic stuff. One question I've always wanted to know though - how long it takes for you to memorize say 20 simple items?


pharmacist profile image

pharmacist 6 years ago from Whitinsville, MA Author

Rupert,

Sounds like you have mastered all the basics. Great reading list. To answer your question: I don't know. Never timed myself. sorry! How about you?


ahmed 5 years ago

hi i all ways had this idea that a machine that had all the things you needed to memorize and you just put on some glasses or what not and it would start going in fast mode and make you memorize it


beth811 profile image

beth811 5 years ago from Philippines

I remember how it was hard for me to memorize scientific names. No method I applied then, just kept on murmuring until I memorize them.


seon shrestha 5 years ago

how can we remember all those chemical reactions? and manufacturing process in chemistry? i am really having trouble memorizing them.


pharmacist profile image

pharmacist 5 years ago from Whitinsville, MA Author

Hi seon,

Give me an example. Bottom line...it is all about making a silly picture or image that you will remember. Our brains remember the funny stuff...


P-nut 5 years ago

Hi, I have to preach in a week and I have it all written out but I can't seem to memorize any of it what should I do? Thanks beforehand


pharmacist profile image

pharmacist 5 years ago from Whitinsville, MA Author

P-nut,

Really? Have you ever heard the expression "In the first place..." Know where that came from? Orators used to memorize their speeches by imagining a "location" for each point. As they moved from point to point they would mentally connect their points to actual locations on a real journey. So....use this approach. Create an imaginative way to attach your first point to a familiar location. Then attach your next point to the next place you would travel to from the first point. Link it all. The trip is already "memorized." So you just need silly pictures to connect your points to the "points" on your journey. Hope that helps.

Jason


aps 5 years ago

plz tel me hw to remember scintific names???


pharmacist profile image

pharmacist 5 years ago from Whitinsville, MA Author

aps,

The basic principle with scientific names is to find another more "common" name that "sounds" like the scientific name. Then create a silly image in your mind with the more common name. Your brain will do the rest. For example...if you want to remember that "paroxetine" can cause weight gain...picture a "teen" (teenager) "ox" making "par" on the golf course. (PAR - OX - a TEEN). Now picture that OX getting fat.

See? Silly sticks. Remember that and you will do well.


Halp! 5 years ago

How can I memorize prices of things? I am running the school store and there's about a hundred things on the list which I need to memorize. Such as all the spritzer flavours, prices, snacks, school supplies, and school clothing.


pharmacist profile image

pharmacist 5 years ago from Whitinsville, MA Author

Hi Halp,

Prices are just numbers. There are a couple choices here. The first is to create a picture image for each number 0-9. For example 1 = wand (kind of looks like a magic wand). 2 = bicycle (has 2 wheels!). Etc. Then you just link these together. Another approach is called the "phonetic alphabet" but that takes a bit longer to explain. Best wishes!


brendan 4 years ago

i am in school right now haha... highschool and need help memorizing things for tests and quizzes. i have tried note cards and they help a little but not as much as i would like them to help.i was wandering if you have any other suggestions that could help me in school .

thanks.


pharmacist profile image

pharmacist 4 years ago from Whitinsville, MA Author

brendan,

Buy (or borrow) almost any book on memory development. You will be amazed how easy it is.

The trick, most of the time, is to create images or pictures to link your information to. Our brains like images. They stick.


Sivan 4 years ago

Hello,

How could I memorize key words and rxns of organic chemistry. Or for example for IR (infrared) how to remember each signal and what it means (bond or functional groups). Sometimes I feel like my memory is getting worse the more I try to remember, or the more I learn, especially when it is similar terms (scientific ones) that I need to remember for an exam (in my long term memory because it will be in the MCAT) and there are so many of them... Thank you.


Ellie 4 years ago

How about multiplication facts my son has tons of trouble memorizing them


pharmacist profile image

pharmacist 4 years ago from Whitinsville, MA Author

Hi Ellie,

Well, repetition is the way these are usually learned. Write them, use flash cards, go slow. But if he really struggles, then the approach is to create an image for each number 1-12 (e.g. 1 = magic wand, 2 = bicycle, 3 = tree). Then multiplying just means putting those two images together in your mind along with another image to represent the answer. This can take a while to come up with pictures that can easily be associated, but it does work. As one partent to another...best wishes!


Ehab Isaac 4 years ago

Hello sir, I am from Bethlehem, Palestine. Here... they do not care about this memorizing issue for jesus sake... Anyway, I am a last year student in my high school, but I am facing a very big problem in remembering especially in history material, where a question has seven or more points to memorize that are not less than a one big long line. It is very hard to memorize that. For me it is impossible, I always fail at memorizing anything... Can you help me please?


pharmacist profile image

pharmacist 4 years ago from Whitinsville, MA Author

Ehab,

The key is to connect those 7 things - in a mental image - to 7 things you already know. Your 7 closest relatives...7 specific places you pass on your way to work...the first 7 books of the Bible....you choose. Then draw a mental picture to link them. You can do it.


Bokshil123 4 years ago

Hey,

My spanish teacher assigned the class 40 some hispanic people to memorize their dates of birth, dates of death, etc...

I read the former posts and know how to do the b= bycycle thing, but I don't know how to match the dates to the people. Can you help me?


pharmacist profile image

pharmacist 4 years ago from Whitinsville, MA Author

Bokshil123,

The secret to names and dates is still "picture" association. I would assign a mental picture to each month "e.g. December = snowman" Then, you need to develop pictures for all numbers 1-20. Then you link the person (again, a funny picture for their name) to the other images to get the dates. It is hard at first...but once you start doing it you get better and it comes quickly.


Vaibhav Namdev 4 years ago

Hi, I am good in understanding everything and i never forget those things. I am a XIIth class student and preparing for medical so i have to memorize some facts which is difficult to me


Mekenzie profile image

Mekenzie 4 years ago from Michigan

This was one awesome hub! I am beginning to notice my memory is not as good as it used to be. I was able to remember all 10 items by using your method. I am a visual learner so this method works exceptionally well for me.

You mentioned that this would be the first hub in a series on memory. I do not find a link to the next article. I'll go back and search your hubs.

I appreciate this hub more than you know.

Thanks! Voted Up and Awesome. Shared with my friends on FB.

God Bless YOU!

Mekenzie


pharmacist profile image

pharmacist 4 years ago from Whitinsville, MA Author

Hi Mekenzie,

Thank you! I do intend to post a few more on this topic. Haven't done so just yet. Thanks for the encouragement!!


iti 4 years ago

Hi,

I'm studying Maths and Physics, but I have a lot of trouble to remember equations, definitions, they're so abstract to me..

example : http://www.quantumintro.com/quantum_orig/scrod.gif I've to understand the formula, remember it and know how to use it in each problem, have you any solution? (I've like 400 equations in each test to remember..)

I find particular hard to remember proofs in math like http://ars.els-cdn.com/content/image/1-s2.0-S00313... where I cannot make a picture in my head :(

thanks :)

(sorry for my bad English :p)


pharmacist profile image

pharmacist 4 years ago from Whitinsville, MA Author

iti,

Every symbol can be converted to a picture or image. Then link them in order. You can do it!


ben 4 years ago

How can I improve my intellectual ability? I know I'm smart but I keep doubting myself. I'm really interested in becoming a pharmacist but some how I feel I lack intelligence (aka: ability to memorized). Now, for last few semester some how I did manage to hold down 3.9 so I guess I'm doing something right.

Any tips on how I can improve thinking speed?

Thank you


pharmacist profile image

pharmacist 4 years ago from Whitinsville, MA Author

ben,

In my opinion, nothing will make you a better "thinker" than to become an avid "writer." Write...write...write. It presses the brain into organized categories. Write well though! Use well-structured paragraphs and good grammar. It will work. Best wishes.

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