This may be the last list you'll ever need. Wired gets the inside scoop on memorization from Dominic O'Brien, a British man who has been World Memory Champion eight times; he's also written a book on the subject. Among his tips:
- To remember a list of words—say, a shopping list—create links between the items in your mind. O'Brien offers the example of a flashlight, grapes, a ring, and sherry: Imagine you're shining the light on a grape, revealing a ring inside. Squeezing the grape causes the ring to fall into a glass of sherry.
- You might prefer to associate objects with certain parts of your body. For example, if you're shopping for cheese, milk, and eggs, you could imagine cheese on top of your head, a half-gallon of milk on your shoulder, and an egg on your nose.
- Put items into a journey through a location you know well. Take a list of numbers: 24337864. A clock in your front hall might represent the 24, while a pair of birds on the stairs could stand for 33. Then an old 78 record could be sitting in a bedroom, while Paul McCartney sings "When I'm 64" in the shower.
- Always forgetting your PIN? Associate the digits with words that have a corresponding number of letters. For the number 4626, for example, you might use "this number is secret."
- Once you've gotten the information into your head, don't forget to review it five times (the "Rule of Five," as O'Brien calls it). First, review it right away; next, review it a day later. Then review it a week later, a month later, and finally, three months later.
Click for the rest of the tips
, plus a quiz to see how well you can use them.