Author Joshua Foer tested a wide variety of memory strategies while researching his book, Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything. Below are his effective techniques to combat your 3 most common memory problems.
Problem #1: You can’t remember someone’s name.
Solution: Associate your new acquaintance with a celebrity or outrageous situation.
How it works: Often when you’re introduced to someone at a party or work function, you’re not really paying attention. Make your brain think about the name by associating it with someone famous or something ridiculous.
For example, if you meet someone named Richard, you can think of Richard Gere, wearing an apron and whipping you up a delicious dinner (the more outrageous the situation, the better). The next time you run into old Richard in the office, your brain will recall your dream date, and you’ll be able to easily make the connection.
Problem #2: You can’t remember where you put your keys.
Solution: Imagine something dramatic happening around your keys.
How it works: Say you left your keys in your coat pocket. Imagine your everyday jacket morphing into Harry Potter’s cloak of invisibility or witnessing your trench spontaneously combust. If you take the time to imagine these situations unfolding, you’ll become very mindful of where you set your keys.
Problem #3: You completely forget your to-do list.
Solution: The “Memory Palace”
How it works: The Memory Place is a technique where you visualize items on your list in a familiar physical place. Take a visual tour of your childhood home house starting with the front door, placing the first item on your list there, and make your way through your house placing each item in different rooms.
The trick is to make yourself care. As you spread out your lists throughout the house, imagine interacting with those items. If you have to buy suntan lotion, imagine someone you’re attracted to lathering up their body. (This trick goes back centuries; it’s true that we find erotic images memorable.)
Click here to see Joshua Foer explain more about why his methods work.
Click here to read and excerpt from Joshua’s book, Moonwalking With Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything.