Using mnemonic devices is a common, useful skill for remembering specific things (e.g., a phone number or address), and sometimes we use them without even realizing it. Actively using mnemonics throughout your day-to-day life can help engrain them as standard memory tools, and will naturally enhance your memory over time. They work by organizing the content of your memories into easier-to-remember formats, such as turning a long string of numbers into a phone number or a song. There are a number of useful mnemonic devices you can try if you’re looking to improve your memory in a natural, passive way.
- Using Acronyms – Acronyms are a way of turning a series of letters or a particular phrase into an easier-to-remember sentence or set of words. Taking the first letter of each word (or each letter in the series) and turning it into a new, easy-to-remember word can help you recall the phrase much more easily. One example is in learning to read music: an acronym for the order of the notes on the page (EGBDF) is “Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge.” Using acronyms in this way will aid you in remembering specific things and enhance your memory overall, too.
- Visualizing – Using visuals to remember things is a great way to expand your memory and help naturally enhance the connection between image and memory. If there is something specific you need to remember, such as a job interview or a meeting, you can associate it with a particular image (e.g., associate your keys with the job interview, that way every time you pick up your keys you will be reminded of it).
- Rhythm and rhyme – Using rhythm or rhyme is a timeless technique for memorization – this is how players would remember their lines in Shakespeare’s theatre, and why meter became so important in playwriting. It is much easier to remember someone’s name when there is an associated rhyme (such as “Tony owns a pony”), and it is much easier to remember a phrase or phone number when you can sing it (think of jingles for ad campaigns you heard on television years ago – you still remember them, right?).
- Repetition – It’s been shown that it takes eight seconds to commit something to short-term memory. After that, you have to engage with the short-term memory at least three times in order to commit it to long-term memory. So if you’re looking to find a way to naturally remember things more easily, or enhance your memory overall, remember those rules. When you meet someone for the first time, use their name at least three times in conversation and you’ll be sure to remember it!