Have you ever had to give a speech, and prepared as set of three by five cards, all bulleted with the points you wanted to cover? You perhaps practiced in front of the mirror several times, and ever were sure that you had memorized all the main points, only to forget them when you stood up in front of your audience?
How about going to the supermarket? Have you ever made a mental list of things you wanted to get, but mysteriously forget them as soon as you arrived? Then of course, as soon as you got home you instantly remembered what they were, and vowed to write out a list next time?
If you’ve ever had this happen, don’t worry. It’s extremely common. It doesn’t mean that you have a bad memory. It only means you are using it incorrectly. There are two kinds of memory. Short term, and long term. Your long-term memory is largely unconscious, and stores things that are important, and things that you use on a regular basis. Where you live, your friends’ names, all the important stuff.
But when you store something in short-term memory, it has a tendency to get thrown out. It isn’t something the brain deems very important, so it doesn’t use a lot of resources to save for any long period of time. Of course if you repeatedly use the information, your brain will get the hint. If you buy a jar of salsa every single time you go to the store, pretty soon your brain will figure it out that salsa is important, and you will remember it after a trip of two.
But what do you do if you want to be able to remember something you store in short term memory, without all the hassle and repetition usually required to convert short term memory into long term memory?
You want to remember your shopping list, but you don’t want to study it every night for a week before going to the store.
The answer is pegging. This is a memory technique that has been around for a while, and despite most people knowing about this, it is not usually used. Most people have a misconception about memory. Most people are under the assumption that it is the job of memory to recall information, and how you first input the information has no impact on this ability. This probably stems from most schools teaching that the only way to remember something is through rote repetition. As a consequence, most people spend very little effort inputting information, and a lot of effort (usually fruitless) trying to recall the information.
Luckily, this isn’t the case. How you store information has a dramatic impact on how easily you can recall it. And by putting in a little effort up front, you can dramatically increase the ease with which you remember stuff.
Ok, back to pegging. What you do is simply connect the thing you want to remember, to something you are already intimately familiar with. Something that is so deep in your long-term memory, there is no chance you will forget it.
And when you connect them together, do so with in a way that will naturally lead you to make the connection.
In order to do this, you will need to create a “peg list.” This is a list of things that you know by heart. Like parts on your body, rooms in your house, things in your bedroom, or the ingredients to your favorite recipe. Any list of things that you will have no problem remembering the name and order of.
Most people start off with a list of body parts, from the ground up. So lets go with feet, ankles. Shins, knees, thighs, hips, stomach, shoulders, face, head. And lets remember a shopping list.
The first item on the shopping list is tomatoes. So you will need to attach the new information (tomatoes) to the known information (your feet). The best way to do this is to create a fantastic, obscene, graphic, cartoonish moving picture connecting your feet and some tomatoes. Like maybe you are on top of a giant tomato that is rolling down the street, and you are barefoot. And while trying to keep your balance, you feel your feet sinking into the mushy cold wet tomato, and you can feel the tomato juices and little tomato seeds squeezing between your toes.
Next is a bag of flour. New information (flour) to known information (ankles.) So lets imagine that you are being attacked by a ninja death squad, but instead of throwing those ninja stars at you, they are throwing bags of flour. And each time they throw a bag of flour, you do a spinning kick, and burst each flour bag open with your ankles as they come flying at you, covering the ninja’s black ninja clothes with tasty white powder.
Get the idea? It’s really easy to learn, and fun to practice. As an added incentive to make it easy on your brain, when you include images/pictures/elements of pain and sex into your pictures, it will be virtually impossible to forget.
You can really amaze your friends with this after you practice a few times. This is the secret behind those guys on TV that can remember the orders of decks of cards, or the names of everybody in the room. It’s not that they are super smart, or have genetically gifted photographic memories, they’ve just learned this trick, and practiced it enough to get really good. And how you know the secret, you can do the same thing.