Imagine yourself in this scenario: you’re at a friend’s party having a good time. You are introduced to a friend of a friend–a HOT, GORGEOUS friend of a friend. Her name is Cathy. You two are really getting along. All the signs say she’s totally into you, but she suddenly needed to run. Before taking off, she manages to tell you her phone number. “Call me!” she says. As you reach for your phone to save the number, you realize in horror that the battery’s gone dead. Worse, you can’t find anything else to write with, and you can’t possibly risk borrowing your buddy’s phone to punch in a gorgeous girl’s number…
You have no choice but to commit Cathy’s number to memory. Do you think you’ll still remember it 2-3 hours later when you get home?
Many of you may say yes. Piece o’ cake. Some of you though, may be unsure.
In the information age, there are many tools to help us remember. It seems we don’t need to exert unnecessary memorization efforts anymore. But what do we do when technology fails us? Shouldn’t we have a contingency?
That’s precisely what I’m writing about today, and it’s going to focus on the simple task of remembering a number, and remembering it really well.
One of the most common techniques for memorizing information is to recite it over and over until is in ingrained. Some people need only a few repetitions while others need more. In either case, there’s still a chance that it may be forgotten it after a few hours.
Let me give you a handy memory technique that could help. Once you learn it, you’ll be surprised how much easier it is to remember numbers.
Assuming you remember Cathy’s name and face, and let’s say that in your area, you’ve got 8-digit phone numbers. And suppose Cathy’s number is 41650239. Try picturing this scene as vividly as you can in your head:
Cathy is sitting in a sailboat. She’s holding a magic wand and is balancing a bomb on top of it. The bomb explodes with a loud bang. As the smoke clears, a seahorse appears. The seahorse lays and egg, which hatches into a white swan. The swan takes out a shiny fork. A red balloon flies by and the swan jabs the balloon with the fork, popping it.
Why the ridiculous story? Because the story is a code for the phone number. Embedded in the story are symbols that represent each of the 8 digits.
Here’s how it works.
This system of memorization is called the Picture Code method. You first have to familiarize yourself with each number’s symbol. In this example, this is the set of symbols used:
0 = an egg
1 = a magic wand
2 = a swan
3 = a fork
4 = a sailboat
5 = a seahorse
6 = a bomb
7 = a crowbar
8 = an hourglass
9 = a balloon
Remembering the set should be relatively easy because the objects are shaped like the number they represent. You’re free to use any set of symbols that work for you (they don’t have to be the ones above). You only have to remember one set of symbols, then use it over and over.
To memorize someone’s phone number, start by picturing this person. Imagine this person doing a specific action with the first digit’s symbol. Then have that object interact with the second digit’s symbol. Then the second with the third, the third with the forth, and so on. Make sure the symbols come into the scene in the correct sequence.
Exaggerate the scene as much as possible. Make it funny, vivid, and engaging to your senses. ‘Hear’ and ‘feel’ the bomb explode. ‘Smell’ the breeze. ‘See’ the vibrant colors.
When you have the whole story, run it through again to make sure you remember it. The more exaggerated and funny the story is, the easier it is to remember.
From this point on, the story is ingrained and it won’t easily be forgotten.
To extract the number, run through the story and pick out the symbols in sequence. Convert each symbol to its respective digit. From our example, the following can be derived: the sailboat, the wand, the bomb, the seahorse, the egg, the swan, the fork, and lastly, the balloon. That’s 41650239. You now have Cathy’s phone number!
Believe it or not, the story will remain with you a long long time. Even if you haven’t thought about it or a while (weeks, months, etc.), you’ll still be able to recall the story when you need to.
Why does this all work? Because the brain likes to associate. It remembers best when it can link or associate something you want to remember with things you already know. In the scene, you know Cathy. As she interacts with the first object, there is now a link. When the object interacts with the next one, another link is created. The links lead your memory flow down the right path, enabling you to extract the embedded information you need.
The Picture Code method is one of the most basic memory techniques. There are others that are more complex but are also much more powerful. They can help you remember not just numbers but also names and faces, events, lists, etc.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to learn these techniques. They can do wondrous things. You’ll be surprised how much better your memory can become when you have the rights tools to help you.