How to Remember Numbers

Learn how to remember numbers in this Howcast video about memory techniques featuring memory expert Barry Reitman.


Hi, my name is Barry Reitman, and I'm going to talk to you about how to remember numbers. There are a number of ways to remember numbers from very simple to fairly complex. I think they're all worthwhile. The simple ones you started to learn when you were three or four years old. One, two, buckle my shoe. Three, four, close the door. Five, six, pick up sticks. Seven, eight, close the gate. Nine, ten, big, fat hen.

Well, there's the even numbers from 2 through 10. And you can use those rhyme schemes, and then, of course, you can make your own for 1, 3, 5. One can be a gun or a hamburger bun. Whatever you decide, make it what you always use for your rhyme schemes. Three can be a tree. Five can be a beehive or someone doing a jive dance. Seven can be heaven. Nine can be a glass of wine. You'll come up with the ones you like, and again repeat them. Whenever you're going to use rhyming schemes for numbers, use the same ones each time, and then associate that which you want to remember by the numbers. Include it with that picture that you've decided on.

So if you had a shopping list and you wanted to get milk and eggs and bread from the store, the first thing you do in that picture in your mind, because we want to focus on what we want to remember and we want to picture it, and I'm going to picture myself taking a gun and shooting a quart of milk or taking a hamburger bun and pouring a quart of milk on it, getting it all soggy and squashing it together. Number one on my list was milk.

Number two, buckle my shoe or tie my shoe, or I guess now it's Velcro my shoe. And number two on my list that I wanted to get from the store, eggs. Well, you know what's going to happen. I'm going to imagine myself taking a bunch of raw eggs, putting them in my shoe, and forgetting about them until I put my foot in and squish and break all those eggs. When I'm at the store, that'll come back to me.

Number three, tree. And the third thing I wanted to get from the store is a loaf of bread. I'm going to see in my mind's eye a tree. Not leaves hanging from it, not fruit hanging from it, but rye bread and white bread and whole wheat bread, loaves of bread hanging from it. Now here's the trick. When I get to the store I'm not going to say, "What did I want to get? What did I want to remember?" All I have to do is take the vocabulary that I know so well: bun, shoe, and tree, and say, "What was on that hamburger bun? Oh yeah, I got it all wet with milk. I have to get milk." Number two, well, number two was my shoe, and I can't even get that thought out without seeing myself, oh, squishing my foot into a shoe full of raw eggs. Third item on my list, well, that's the tree item. Oh yeah, I see it. I don't even have to ask myself. I see loaves of bread hanging from the tree.

So that's one simple way to do numbers.

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