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Remembering Long Lists

Contributor ,

ind it difficult to memorise long lists without forgetting essential elements? It is a common problem, yet one that can be easily combated by the use of simplistic memory training.

People learn by association, which is why young children learn the alphabet by use of recognition ie A- Annie Apple; B- Bouncing Ben and so on.

A slightly more advanced, but equally effective technique is the journey method. This works by associating information with landmarks on a journey you are very familiar with. For example, the trip to work in the morning; the route you take to your parent’s house or the supermarket. In fact, once you have mastered the ability to associate information with everyday journeys, you may soon be able to invent new journeys that fix in your mind and apply them.

In order for the technique to work most effectively, it is advised to mentally prepare the journey in full first. By doing this you have a clear map of each of the landmarks before you attempt to apply information. A good idea is to write down the most prominent destinations in order, then try to remember the less obvious, and then the trivial.

The next step is to nominate a segment of your list to one of these easily recognisable landmarks. It helps here if you associate paramount information with prominent landmarks. The list is extremely effective and works with objects, times, people and dates. The longer the list is the more trivial landmarks will be needed, and the shorter the list, the shorter the journey!

Here is an example of a simple journey list, along with memory hints, applied to a shopping trip:

• Front door: washing up liquid (spilt on doormat)
• Rose bush in front garden: bunch of tomatoes (look similar to roses)
• Car: potatoes/veg (sitting on drivers seat)
• End of road: French bread rolls (similar to road markings)
• Traffic lights: (wrapped in cling film)

It’s really that simple. By training your mind to associate simple elements with familiar landmarks your memory can improve dramatically, ensuring you do not forget any essential information.

Sheila Mulrennan

Sheila Mulrennan from Professionaldevelopment.ie specialises in writing articles relating to Personal Development Training, Communication Skills, Presentation Skills and Time Management . Visit her website at for more.


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