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How to Use Mnemonics

Standing in the wrong parking lot looking for your car -- again? You're not losing your mind, but you may find these memory devices useful.


  • Step 1: Break info into small bits Break information into small bites and memorize, then add another item and build a list. Write the information down in small groups and repeat it.
  • TIP: Reading and then reciting words takes the few seconds necessary to convert short-term recognition to long-term memory.
  • Step 2: Memorize landmarks Try the Method of Loci, which involves memorizing landmarks and surroundings and the items in the room or location. Practice mentally going about a location, picking up objects you have set near architectural specifics.
  • Step 3: Group the information Group information with related things you already know, so the association with old knowledge helps you remember new information .
  • TIP: Studies suggest that there is less interference and less loss of memory when the information taken in is associated with other similar facts or things.
  • Step 4: Remember facial features Link a face with a name by noting and committing to memory distinctive facial characteristics.
  • Step 5: Use acronyms Rely on acronyms, to remember the Great Lakes -- Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior -- for instance. Use small packets of shortcut information to trigger the larger supply.
  • Step 6: Create acrostic links Create acrostic links by making up silly sentences that create a sort of acronym shortcut. Remember the grocery list with "Mean Mr. Mustard sleeps on the dock," so that you recall: mayo, mints, mustard, saltines, and dog food.
  • Step 7: Rhyme, create songs Rhyme words to hold them in mind, like "I before E except after C." Make up songs that rhyme the words you don't want to lose.
  • Step 8: Remember constantly Practice remembering things constantly, as a personal challenge or a game. Go out of your way to test your ability and improve it.
  • FACT: Greek orators conceived of the Method of Loci around the fifth century BCE, when Simonides of Ceos was able to identify the bodies after a building collapsed because he had noted where all the people had been standing.

You Will Need

  • List
  • Concentration
  • Acronyms
  • Acrostics
  • Rhymes

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