How to... Remember Long Lists and Numbers

Peg systems are more reliable than this!

© iStockphoto

Systems Needed

Using the Tools

Remembering lists are what many mnemonics are for. You can code almost any information into these mnemonic lists. All that you need is the imagination to come up with the relevant associations.

To memorize short lists, use:

To remember intermediate and longer lists, use:

As with lists, using mnemonic systems, remembering numbers becomes extremely simple. There are a number of approaches, depending on the types of numbers being remembered:

1. Short numbers

The easiest, but least reliable, way of remembering numbers is to use simple Number/Rhyme   images associated in a story  .

A better way is to use a simple peg system, where, for example, you can associate digits from the Number/Rhyme System   into positions organized with the Alphabet System  .

2. Long numbers (e.g. Pi)

You can store long numbers most effectively with the Journey System  . At a simple level, single numbers can be stored at each stop on the journey using Number/Rhyme   or Number/Shape   images. At a more advanced level you can increase the number of digits stored at each stop by using the Major System  .

By using all the simple techniques together you should be able to store a 100 digit number with relatively little effort. Using the more powerful systems, holding it to 1000 digits might not be too much of a challenge.

3. Telephone numbers

These can be remembered simply by associating numbers from the Number/Rhyme   system with positions in either the Alphabet Technique   or the Journey System  . You can then associate these with the face or name of the person whose number you are remembering.

For example, to remember that someone's phone number is 735-3458, I can imagine myself traveling to their flat: with my destination firmly in mind, I envisage the following stops on my journey:

  1. Front door: the door has sprouted angel's wings, and is flying up to heaven! (7)
  2. Rose bush: a small sapling (tree, 3) is growing its way through the middle of the bush.
  3. Car: some bees have started to build a hive (5) under the wheel of my car. I have to move it very carefully to avoid damaging it.
  4. End of road: a tree (3) has fallen into the road. I have to drive around it.
  5. Past garage: Someone has nailed a door (4) to the sign. Strange!
  6. Under railway bridge: the bees are building another hive (5) between the girders!
  7. Beside the river: A rusty farm gate (8) is blocking the road.

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