Today, more than in any other time in history we are bombarded with information. Facebook, Instagram, blogs, emails, infographics…data, data, data.
While it is important to filter out what is signal and noise by using rapid reasoning, once you have worked that out, there are lots to recall, therefore, improving your memory is not an option if you want to be competitive, it’s critical. For those that have had a classical education, the following technique, I am about to share with you is not a new “hack”, it’s tried and tested and has been used by the Greeks, Romans, British, and is commonly employed in memory competitions. It’s a technique used by Royalty to recall the inventory of their collections, hence the name the “Memory Palace.”
The Memory Palace, or otherwise, known as the method of the loci (latin for “location”) is a technique which uses visualization and spatial learning to place and then recalls information. When you need to remember anything you imagine yourself on a journey or in a room you know well and “take the first step” of the journey by having the same starting point every time. Choose a journey or location you know well and can recall the details, all you will do is place the items you wish to recall in certain places of the journey. In order to make it most effective, it should be integrated with elaborative significance (i.e., adding visual, auditory, or other details) to strengthen the mental picture. However, due to the strength of spatial memory, simply mentally placing objects in real or imagined locations without further elaboration can be effective for simple associations. Follow these steps:
1. Decide on a blueprint by choosing a familiar place or location. This can be a building, your room, journey you take to work or the gym etc. (need picture of building or walk). 1. Decide on a blueprint by choosing a familiar place or location. This can be a building, your room, journey you take to work or the gym etc. (need picture of building or walk).
2. Choose a route, its important that you know the order to the items you will “walk” past, therefore you will need a specific route you know really well.
3. Highlight specific locations on your way along this journey. When you first use this system you will need to place things in specific locations, therefore draw attention to what are landmarks on the walk. For example if you are using from you bedroom, to your bathroom, to you kitchen etc..make a clear mental note the very first object you notice in the morning, then as you get up, the second thing that you see..then what you notice most about entering your bathroom..you get the gist of this.. 3. Highlight specific locations on your way along this journey. When you first use this system you will need to place things in specific locations, therefore draw attention to what are landmarks on the walk. For example if you are using from you bedroom, to your bathroom, to you kitchen etc..make a clear mental note the very first object you notice in the morning, then as you get up, the second thing that you see..then what you notice most about entering your bathroom..you get the gist of this..
4. Imagine you are taking that journey. You must be able to commit to memory the location of the events on the journey, its much better to choose places you know really well and are everyday occurences to you, don’t’ trouble yourself with places you don’t’ know that well, just the most familiar. Practice going through the building when you are not there..close your eyes and mentally rehearse going through the building or location, ensure your mental image includes their colors, sizes, smells, and any other defining characteristics. You want to recall as much detail as possible.
5. Place things you want to recall on your journey. Once you have constructed your building or journey, your “palace” and find it easy to recall important aspects of it in your mind, you are ready to use it. Insert a manageable amount of information in each place. For example, if your palace is your house, and you are trying to remember a speech you might place the first few sentences next to your bed and the next few on the first thing you see when you get out of bed. However, its imperative to refrain from too much information in any one place, furthermore to keep certain things separate from others, put them in different places. Make sure that you place things along your route in the order in which you need to remember them, if applicable.
6. Use meaningful symbols and images. Store in each location an image or a symbol that will trigger your memory of whatever it is you would like to associate, be creative, if you are trying to remember something look for a shorthand version or metonymy that you can associate..if you need to remember, here are some examples of a variety of metonymy in everyday usage:
* Crown – in place of a royal person
* The White House – in place of the President or others who work there
* The suits – in place of business people
* Dish – for an entire plate of food
* The Pentagon – to refer to the staff
* The restaurant – to refer to the staff
* Ears – for giving attention (“Lend me your ears!” from Mark Antony in Julius Caesar)
* Eyes – for sight
* The library – for the staff or the books
* Pen – for the written word
* Sword – for military might
7. Creativity. The images you put in your palace work well when they are as memorable as possible. Images are most memorable if they are bizarre and absurd or if they are attached to some strong emotion or personal experience. To recall numbers here is a useful visualization technique, creating a visual link with the number itself.
0 = ball
1 = magic wand
2 = swan
3 = fork
4 = sailboat
5 = seahorse
6 = bomb
7 = crowbar
8 = hourglass
9 = balloon
Therefore, if you wanted to recall the number 778595:
Two crowbars fall onto an hourglass cracking it open and revealing a seahorse holding a balloon with a picture of a seahorse on it.
8. Explore your “palace.” Once you have placed what you need to recall in your palace with evocative images, it’s imperative you go through your journey. The more often you wander through your palace, the more easily you will recall its contents on demand. In your mind you want to see a drunken cartoon stag leaping over the sofa, for example, sitting on your there and was really an integral part of your bathroom decor.
In addition to the memory palace
For more information on how to improve your memory
and the decision making process click here.