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Remembering a Simple List

How to Use the Tool:

The Link Method is one of the easiest mnemonic techniques available.

It works quite simply by making associations between items in a list, linking them either with a flowing image containing the items, or with a story featuring them. The flow of the story and the strength of the images give you the cues for retrieval.

Taking the first image, create a connection between it and the next item. Then move on through the list linking each item with the next. It is quite possible to remember lists of words using association only. However it is often best to fit the associations into a story: otherwise by forgetting just one association you can lose the whole of the rest of the list.

Given the fluid structure of this mnemonic, it is important that the images stored in your mind are as vivid as possible. Significant, coding images should be much stronger that ones that merely support the flow of the story. See the introduction to this chapter for further information on making images as strong as possible.

The Story Method is similar, except that the images are linked together as part of a story. This makes it easier to remember the order of events and create a memorable mnemonic.


Where a word you want to remember does not trigger strong images, use a similar word that will remind you of that word.


Example:

You may want to remember this list of counties in the South of England: Avon, Dorset, Somerset, Cornwall, Wiltshire, Devon, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, and Surrey.

You could do this with two approaches, the link method and the story method:

Remembering with the Link Method
This would rely on a series of images coding information:

An AVON (Avon) lady knocking on a heavy oak DOoR (Dorset)

The DOoR opening to show a beautiful SuMmER landscape with a SETting sun (Somerset)

The setting sun shines down onto a field of CORN (Cornwall)

The CORN is so dry it is beginning to WILT (Wiltshire)

The WILTing stalks slowly droop onto the tail of the sleeping DEVil (Devon).

On the DEVil's horn a woman has impaled a GLOSsy (Gloucestershire) HAM (Hampshire) when she hit him over the head with it

Now the Devil feels SoRRY (Surrey) he bothered her.


Note that there need not be any reason or underlying plot to the sequence of images: only images and the links between images are important.

Remembering with the Story Method:
Alternatively you could code this information by imaging the following story vividly:

An AVON lady is walking up a path towards a strange house. She is hot and sweating slightly in the heat of high SUMMER (Somerset). Beside the path someone has planted giant CORN in a WALL (Cornwall), but it's beginning to WILT (Wiltshire) in the heat. She knocks on the DOoR (Dorset), which is opened by the DEVil (Devon). In the background she can see a kitchen in which a servant is smearing honey on a HAM (Hampshire), making it GLOSsy (Gloucestershire) and gleam in bright sunlight streaming in through a window. Panicked by seeing the Devil, the Avon lady screams 'SoRRY' (Surrey), and dashes back down the path.


Key points:

The Link Method is probably the most basic memory technique, and is very easy to understand and use. It works by coding information to be remembered into images and then linking these images together.

The story technique is very similar. It links these images together into a story. This helps to keep events in a logical order and can improve your ability to remember information if you forget the sequence of images.

Both techniques are very simple to learn. Unfortunately they are both slightly unreliable as it is easy to confuse the order of images or forget images from a sequence.

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