Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Use your memory to make things easy

Sometimes in the effort to make things in our lives easier, we overlook the obvious. Most of us are aware of the need to “capture” our ideas, tasks, and appointments in a little notebook we carry around with us, for the most part this works out very well.

It’s during those times when recording information in a notebook doesn’t work that we should have something to fall back on to help us, a microcassette would work, but I’m thinking even simpler; your memory. A little preplanning to create a list, just a small one and you’ll be on your way to remembering all kinds of information with ease. It doesn’t take much effort, and those moments when you can’t write down the information, will become simple because you can remember it until you can write it down.

First you start with a list of objects, real things that you can visualize and the best choices are items in a familiar room in your own home. I’ll make a list here of my items in my office, you can use the same items or different ones if you wish.

1. Refrigerator

2. Cat perch

3. In-box

4. Desk lamp

5. Computer

6. Monitor

7. Printer

8. Trash can

9. Chair

10. Stereo

These are all items, or in memory terminology, “pegs” where information can be visualized and hung or pegged to for easy recall. For example, if I got a call while I’m driving and I was asked to pick up eggs and bananas at the market, I’d just get a quick mental picture of me throwing eggs at my office refrigerator, watching the shells slide down the front making a sticky mess, then for bananas I’d just hang them on the cat perch and visualize the cats swatting them and clawing the peels off.

The secret to this whole process is to pick familiar objects, put them in a list order; I usually go clockwise around my room to get a mental photograph and in the time it takes to create the list you’ve usually got it memorized. Once you’ve done this you can start “pegging” things you want to remember to your item list. Just make your mental pictures of the peg and the item you want to remember outrageous and nonsensical, plus it really helps to have things happening, lots of action.

This is not a replacement for writing important information in your capture notebook, but it is a way to make a mental note until you can write down the information. You also may find that you don’t always have to write things down. As an added bonus this technique is fun and exercises your brain. Feel free to make longer lists if you wish, then you could “peg” more items and you’ll have more information readily available without looking it up.