Sunday, April 26, 2009

How to remember ten things: the number rhyming system

Here's a simple system, the Number Rhyming system, you can use when you don't have a way to write something down. Me, I'm always getting ideas, for stories, superpowers, jokes, evil pranks that end up being too much work, you name it.

I got this technique from Make the Most of Your Mind, which is a great little book about memory, but it predates the book. It's pretty simple. Like many memory techniques, it relies on making striking images. However, for this one, you also use the numbers one through ten, and rhyming words.

For each number, there's a rhyme:

one bun
two shoe
three tree
four door
five hive
six sticks
seven heaven
....Ok, I never get past seven, so I don't have rhymes for that. You can use these rhymes, or any rhymes you like.

One way to use this is to remember short lists of things. So, to remember something, you create an image involving the rhyme word and the thing you want to remember. If you want to remember how you had an idea for a book about aliens eating Austin, maybe you imagine a hamburger bun, and when you bite into it, it opens up to a bug-eyed alien that's taking a bite out of the capitol building.

Well, that's what I'd do. You do what you like. Apparently people use this to remember number sequences, like a phone number. I don't do sequences that way at all, but here's a page with a set of rhymes and some examples. Seems to me it's easier just to repeat the sequence a lot, than to create a bunch of different images. But I like this system for when I have five ideas and I'm afraid I won't remember them long enough to write them down.

1 comment:

  1. there's an article in the latest issue of Wired about how we make instinctive use of tools like maps, written notes, and computers to expand our innate mental systems, storing data. This makes me wonder how efficient developing a powerful memory is in a modern society vs mastering other skills.