How to use the memory palace technique

If you are looking to learn how to remember things quickly and easily then one of the most powerful memorization techniques is know as a memory palace (it’s also known as the ‘method of loci’).  The memory palace technique is a system of memorization using visualization.  You create a route in your imagination with a number of objects or waypoints in.  Each of these waypoints are then used to hook one thing that you want to remember onto.

Creating the memory palace

A memory palace can be created from anything you can imagine, but when you are starting out it is best to use a route that you are familiar with – for example it could be a route around your house or your journey to school or work.

  1. Start out by choosing what you want your memory palace to be, for example, a common memory palace is the house where you live.
  2. Take some time to run through your memory palace in your mind.  Become familiar with it, pay attention to the objects and rooms in the palace, these can be used as waypoints where the items that you want to remember can be hooked onto.
  3. Once you are familiar with your memory palace, the next step is to decide what objects and rooms you want to use as your waypoints.  Run through the memory palace in your mind a few more times, so that you are familiar with the palace and all of the objects and rooms that you will be using for hooks.
  4. The more you run through your memory palace, the more vivid and easier to remember it will become.

For more about creating your memory palace, have a look at my tips for creating a memory palace.

Connecting what you want to remember with the waypoints

When a memory palace has been created, it is time to take what you want to remember and and connect them together.

  1. Break down what you want to remember into individual items, for example, each item might be an item on a shopping list or a point in a speech that you want to remember.
  2. Run through your memory palace – when you reach the first waypoint you need to hook it up to the first item to remember.
    1. The idea here is to take the item that you want to remember and create a visualisation of it at the waypoint.  For example, your waypoint is a picture in your living room and you want to remember to get some milk.  You can create a visualisation of milk pouring out of the picture and into the living room.
    2. Try to use different senses – visualize the milk pouring out of the picture, but also feel it as it laps around your ankles, get a glass and taste it as you drink some.
    3. Rather than just a static scene make it dynamic, for example, imagine a horde of kittens running into the room and watch them start lapping up the milk.
    4. Use humour or the bizarre to make it more memorable – watch as a yacht sails through your living room on the milk sea.
    5. Basically, the more memorable you make it, the easier it will be to memorize.
  3. Move to the next waypoint and hook it up to the next item on your list to memorize, as explained above.
  4. Repeat this process for every item that you want to memorize.
  5. Run through your memory palace a few times, making sure that the visualization at each waypoint is clear in your mind.

Recalling your memory palace

Now that you have created your memory palace, it should be a simple matter for you to recall everything.  All you have to do is run through the memory palace, stopping at each waypoint and recalling the visualization for it.  If it is going to be a long time before you actually need to remember everything, then it is sensible to run through everything now and again, to make sure that it stays fresh in your mind.

A practical example of using the memory palace technique

If you want an example of using the memory palace technique, here goes!  I am going to memorize a short shopping list, using the house that I live in as the memory palace.

The shopping list consists of the following:

  • Bread
  • Milk
  • Some bin bags
  • Dog food
  • Bananas
  • A pizza

Here is the memory palace that I create for this shopping list:

  • I get to my front door but can’t open it – it’s made of bread!  Instead, I have to tear off pieces of it and literally eat my way through!
  • As I finally tear my way through the front door and into the hall I look in amazement as milk pours out of every picture on the wall, it quickly collects around my ankles until the bread door becomes so soggy that it breaks apart and the milk then flows out, into the street.
  • I walk into the kitchen, but am horrified when I find that the bin there is overflowing with rubbish.  It’s all over the floor and I have to virtually wade through the stinking rubbish to get to the cupboard where the bin bags are, I get some bin bags out and being to put all of the rubbish into it.
  • Once the kitchen it tidied up, I begin to go back to the hall but am stopped by my dogs.  They’re standing upright and point at the empty dog bowls in their other paw – the poor things look starving!
  • I’m back in the hall and immediately slip on a banana skin!  Looking around, I see a monkey on the stair rail, eating bananas and throwing the skins on the floor in front of me.  I run up the stairs to it as it continues to throw banana skins at me.
  • As I run up the stairs I get to the landing – but the floor collapses around me.  I now find myself up to my armpits in a pizza floor.  I’m still pretty full from eating the bread front door, but there’s no option as I start eating the pizza floor to free myself.

That’s the end of this memory palace but if there were more items on the list, it would be really easy just to keep going with more waypoints and more visualizations of everything on the list at the waypoints.  Now that I have worked out what is in my memory palace, I run through it a few times to make sure that I am happy and can remember it all.  And that’s all there is to it!

I hope this article has been helpful to you and you can now create your own memory palaces to help you to remember things.  If you want to really take your knowledge of the memory palace technique to the next level, then I can really recommend the Power Memory Formula, which is a fantastic course that will take to from the basics and help you to develop a virtually photographic memory.  Follow this link to read my review of the Power Memory Formula.

 

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