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How to Use the Link or Story Method

Learn how to use the Link or Story Method in this Howcast video about memory techniques featuring memory expert Barry Reitman.


My name is Barry Reitman. I'm the author of "Secrets, Tips and Tricks of a Powerful Memory". I'm going to talk a little bit about the link method of remembering, also the story method of remembering, and then at the end I'm going to tell you something interesting.

The link method or the story method are what they sound like. You're going to take a list of items and link one to the next to the next. The good part is that you only have to remember the first item. The rest are linked in pictures. You're always going to visualize. You're going to focus and picture what you want to remember. So if the first thing I want to remember for my list of chores tomorrow morning is to go to the jewelry store to buy a gift, I'm going to take a wrist watch in my mind's eye and put it on my big toe on my right foot. Toe is one of the ways I always remember number one, so if I want to remember what's the first item, "What's on my toe? Oh, I could see it. It's a wrist watch." I actually had to take off my shoe and sock to see what time it was. That's not true. So the number one item is a wrist watch. That will remind me to go to the jewelry store. Whether I'm going there to buy a gift of a necklace or to get a watch fixed, it doesn't matter. It's my list. It's not someone else's list. I'm putting it together. If I see jewelry store or anything to remind me of jewelry store, I'll know that's number one.

The second thing I have to do tomorrow is pick up sunflower seeds. You know the birds in the backyard, I love them but this time of year it's heck. They're going through a lot of sunflower seeds, I had to buy a big bag of sunflower seeds. Well, I'm going to link those sunflower seeds to the first item. First item was the jewelry store represented by a wrist watch, second item I'm going to represent that bird seed with a parakeet. How am I going to link it? It has to be silly, it has to be stupid, it has to be dopey. So I'm going to picture that wrist watch on the parakeet's wing. "What time is it? What time is it?" That's what I'm going to see the picture of. When I'm walking out of that jewelry store, I don't have to ask myself where I have to go next, because I know I was there because of a wrist watch and I can see the picture automatically of the parakeet wearing the wrist watch.

The next place I want to go is the computer store. I have to pick up my laptop. I hope they fixed it on time. How am I going to remember that? Well, I'm going to link that third item to the second item. The second picture was a parakeet. I'm going to picture a parakeet typing away at this laptop computer entering data. That's silly enough to remember isn't it? So I got out of the house. I saw a wrist watch on my big toe. I know I have to go to the jewelry store. I know that the second item is the bird seed, because I saw that wrist watch on the parakeets arm. The next thing that I have to do on my chores today is go to the computer store to see if my laptop has been repaired. How am I going to remember that? Oh, yeah, the second item, the parakeet is typing away on the laptop. Then I have to go to the party store to pick up some balloons and things for my kid's party. Well, how about if I take the helium balloon, tie it on that laptop computer and watch it rise up to the ceiling, banging against the ceiling. So when I finish with the laptop computer and picking it up, that picture - if I've seen the picture, not just the words, if I've seen the picture I'll see that laptop computer being raised up by a helium balloon, I know I have to go to the party store.

I can make a list that'll take me throughout the day, and I'm going to suggest that it's probably the weakest of the popular systems. Why is that? Because if you forget any one item, everything that comes after can be lost. I encourage you use it for unimportant things, small things, short lists, but I encourage you if something is important, learn one of the numbering systems, the loci system, the body parts system, any of the systems that are within this series. But I will tell you this. I once sat down with a nine-year-old girl who had her mother said ADD, and she was taking medication for it, and I gave her a list that we composed together. I picked an item, she picked an item, her mother picked an item, and we put together 16-item list. And by linking one thing to the next thing to the next thing, this kid who supposedly couldn't learn anything had 16 items fixed.

Think about that.

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