Strategies for memorization
If you’re running a small business, you probably have approximately a million things to remember: names, faces, products, numbers, an unending to-do list of tasks, and more. How can you possibly expect your brain to recall everything?
Joshua Foer, winner of the 2006 USA Memory Championship and author of the book Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything has released a video revealing one of his strategies for memorizing unbelievable quantities of information.
The Major system
Memorizing the first 100 digits of pi, for example, should be humanly impossible. But Foer shows a simple (well, ok, it’s a little involved, but it does seem to work) method for memorizing long strings of numbers. It’s called the Major system.
In the Major system, each number is assigned a letter or sound like “D” or “Sh.” Groups of numbers are translated into sounds, then combined to make word forms that call up an image. For example, 141 is translated to DRD, which evokes the image of a druid.
Visualizing in your memory palace
Once Foer has compiled a list of images corresponding to the digits of pi, he visualizes them placed around his “memory palace” – and imaginary house inside his mind populated by nymphs, a wolf peeing on the floor, Michelle Pfeiffer taking a shower, and Michael Jackson moonwalking in the kitchen. The images help him recall the letter combinations, which he translates back into numbers.
Okay, so maybe you don’t need to know pi
Admittedly, there are very few times when you’ll be required to memorize a string of 100 random numbers. But Foer’s method could be useful for other situations.
For example, let’s say you have to give a presentation that will involve a lot of numbers, percentages, and statistics. If you want to look like you’re really on top of your game, and spend less time glancing at your notes, you could use the Major method to use visual images to help you remember numbers. To use more examples from Foer’s video, if you needed to remember that something cost $5272, you could translate that number into LNKN, then picture Abraham Lincoln, rather than trying to memorize the number directly.
Give it a shot!
The memory palace could be used to keep track of long lists of tasks. Visualize an image corresponding to each item on your to do list, then place them in your memory palace. When it’s time to take action, close your eyes and imagine yourself walking through the memory palace, and voilá! You will see the images in your memory palace and remember the items on your to do list.
Don’t forget to try it out next time you need to remember something.