Numbers and Lists

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gifele.gif (3048 bytes)  Numbers are abstract and do not generally carry as much meaning for us as do words.   They are therefore much more difficult to remember unless you find numbers fascinating.
There are however many different ways of making them more memorable 
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  • Break up long numbers into shorter and more easily remembered sections, 2 or 3 digits only or as many as you find comfortable.

  • Arrange numbers in ways that you are already familiar with e.g. if you like running or some other activity involving numbers, try to arrange the numbers to be remembered in similar groupings.

  • Patterns and other meanings can often be found in numbers by using a little ingenuity.  There may be a familiar date or house number or perhaps the number of a car we used to own.  It is surprising how often it is possible to find something of this sort on which to base a memory.
    There may be a  number sequence to be noticed, or a backwards sequence, an all odd or even telephone number, or one in which a small number crops up again as a multiple.                                                   e.g.    268       2, 6 (3x2), 8 (4x2).
             721         7, 21(3x7)

  • Use the different sensesSay the number out loud to yourself and listen to yourself saying it.  Listen to the owner of the number saying it to you when he/she answers the phone, and remember how it sounded.
    Write the number down and have a good look at it, see the shape and try to memorise how it looked.

  • Car registration numbers and letters.  It can become quite a private game to find ever more bizarre and memorable ways of remembering these.  If you are the sort of person who does not usually use bad language in your everyday life, it certainly makes letters more memorable if you remember them as words you never normally use.
    e.g  A 123 BMT  could be A 123 Bloody Mary Tudor


  • Peg Word System.  If you are only going to learn one system for memorising things and want it to be a simple but effective one, then you probably can't beat the Peg Word System.
    It is based on the old nursery rhyme, 'One two, buckle my shoe, three four, open the door' etc.
    All the numbers have been given a symbol as follows
    One is a Bun
    Two is a Shoe
    Three is a Tree
    Four is a Door
    Five is a Hive (the old fashioned straw skep type)
    Six is Sticks
    Seven is Heaven (Make your own image)
    Eight is a Gate
    Nine is Wine (in a bottle)
    Ten is a Hen
    Zero is a Hero (Tarzan or whoever you like)

    Learn the  items thoroughly before attempting to use the system.  
    Then when you have them in your mind, make a mental picture of the first item on your list associated very strongly with a bun.  For instance, if the item to be remembered was a wristwatch you had to collect from the menders, you could have a picture in your mind of a bun wearing your watch round it.
    If the second item was a hockey stick, you could think of a shoe with a hockey stick in it instead of a leg.

    The system may sound ridiculous, but it really works, which is all that matters.   Give it a try.

  • Narrative Chaining
    If you like making up stories, then you may prefer this method of remembering lists.
    This can be used for a list of any length, and involves the items to be remembered being incorporated into a story, which is then run through in your mind when you need to recall the items.

  • Loci
    Loci is the Latin word for places, and this system was first used by the Greek orator Simonides.  On one occasion the great man had just left a banquet when the building was razed to the ground and all the diners were killed.  No-one really knew who had been at the dinner, but Simonides was able to recall them all by seeing the scene in his mind's eye and recalling where each diner had been sitting. 
    In the modern version, you select a room of your house and decide which of its features you are going to use for your 'game' and in what order you will approach them.  
    As you look at the items to be remembered you mentally 'place' each one in one of the allotted places in your room.  Really see the tin of dogfood sitting on the piano keys and the cabbage in the fireplace.  Then when you are in the High Street, all you have to do is to take a mental walk round your room and see the extraordinary placing of the required objects.

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