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Last Updated on September 3, 2020

How to Build a Memory Palace to Remember More of Everything

How to Build a Memory Palace to Remember More of Everything

With every advancement in technology, there has been a decline in something else. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but it’s the price we pay for convenience. To really show that, let’s take a walk down memory lane before we learn about the memory palace.

How many times have you gotten home from the grocery store to realize you forgot something? What about that new person’s name from work? How about the new words from your language learning class?

While these are all minor inconveniences, all these things have one thing in common: they rely on our ability to memorize things.

There’s nothing wrong with using technology to create lists to help us with our short and long-term memory, but it comes at a price as places, dates, specific items, and more become more difficult to remember without technology as an aid.

Thankfully, the memory palace is here to help. It is immensely powerful in unlocking memories and being able to retain them with ease. By learning what a memory palace is and using the technique, you can change your life and remember more of what you need to.

What Is the Memory Palace?

Another name for this technique is the Method of Loci or the mind palace, though most people will call it the memory palace. It’s a memorization technique that was first developed in ancient Greece. Back then, paper was expensive and limited, so people relied heavily on their own memories to retain and recall information.

You can see an example of how this method works below:[1]

The Memory Palace for a recipe

    Going further into the technique, many people see a memory palace as a metaphor for any sort of place that you can visualize. It’s essentially a place you can go to to recall vivid memories and then apply them in the real world.

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    Does It Really Work?

    Short answer: yes. Extremely well.

    One example to look to is Dominic O’Brien[2]. He was an eight-time world memory champion who used this method. Through this method, he was able to memorize 54 decks of cards in sequence while only having seen each card once.

    That’s 2,808 cards that he memorized.

    Another worth noting is the memorization of Pi.

    While this is a number without end, many people memorize the numbers for fun. But that’s not the case for a man in India.

    On March 2015, Rajveer Meena was able to recite 70,000 decimal places of pi[3]. That feat is only overshadowed by a Japanese man who memorized 111,700 decimals.(The Guardian: He ate all the pi: Japanese man memorises π to 111,700 digits)).

    “But these are all extreme cases,” I hear you saying. Yes, they are.

    But these individuals all started somewhere, and that somewhere is the memory palace.

    As I said, a memory palace is a place to house vivid memories. However, under the right circumstances, you can leverage it for a wide variety of things. One of the most common is obviously to memorize patterns.

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    5 Steps to Build and Use the Memory Palace

    There are many practical methods for a memory palace outside of setting world records. You can use this technique to recall long to-do lists, grocery lists, names, a foreign language and more.

    Here’s how to build a memory palace to use in real life.

    1. Select Your Palace

    Before even starting, you need to have a place in mind that you are familiar with. This technique works best if you can mentally see and walk around the area effortlessly. It’s why I suggest your office, home, school, or a familiar route you walk every day.

    You should define a particular route within your memory palace. It’s helpful to keep the route simple, by going from room to room, for example. Or if you are in one particular room, going around the room to familiar objects.

    2. Identify Distinctive Features

    Once you have a palace, you need to pay especially close attention to the features. For example, if you used your home as your palace, distinctive features could include the front door, basement, kitchen, office, etc.

    If you choose to stick to one room, find distinctive objects. For example, if you want to use your bedroom as your memory palace, you can use your bed, dresser, TV, closet, etc. as the distinctive features.

    The idea behind all of this is to create memory slots. These are clues that will contain a single piece of information to help you jog your memory. By paying close attention to the actions and details around the area, you can create more memory slots.

    3. Imprint Your Palace

    For this to have any effectiveness, you need to have both the place and the route 100% imprinted in your head. For those of you who are exceptional at visualization, this shouldn’t be a huge struggle.

    However, for those who do, consider these tips:

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    • Walk the actual route physically when possible, and repeat out loud the distinctive features when you see them.
    • List the selected features on a piece of paper and mentally walk through them.
    • Always look at the features in the exact same direction.
    • Understand visualization is a skill and takes practice.

    When you think you have your memory palace memorized, give yourself a break and go through your memory palace a little later.

    One study from Purdue University found that quizzes spaced out over periods of time improved retaining information[4]. This same principal applies to the memory palace as you’ll be quizzing yourself later on the sequence of steps you memorized earlier.

    Once the palace is imprinted into your mind, you can then start to leverage your palace.

    For more visualization techniques to practice, check out this article.

    4. Begin Association

    Now that the palace is in your mind, and you can recall the memory slots, you can now start to fill those memory slots.

    All you do is take a known image—otherwise known as a memory peg—and place it with an element you wish to memorize.

    Where exactly do these go?

    These go with the particular features that you selected in the memory palace.

    To see this in practice, let’s go with a simplistic approach. After all, while we can use this palace technique to memorize a lot of information, it’s better to start small.

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    Say you’re memorizing a grocery list. For the sake of the argument, let’s say you chose your house as your palace.

    Need to pick up some apples? Visualize the apples sitting on your bed.

    How about ground beef? Visualize ground beef filling the bathtub.

    All of these things physically wouldn’t happen and can serve as mental cues. They give you pause and remind you to pick up those specific items as you walk through each room of your memory palace at the grocery store.

    5. Visit Your New Palace

    The last step is to spend some time in the palace. If this technique is new to you, going through it once may not be enough for you. That’s not to say you need to do this a lot, but doing quick rehearsals and repeating the journey a few times definitely helps.

    This technique demands a lot of visualization, and rehearsing in of itself is developing those skills, too. The better you are at visualizing, the more relaxed you’ll be, and the easier it’ll be to memorize things in the future.

    And if you want to upgrade your learning ability in addition to building a memory palace, I recommend you take a FREE Learning Fast Track Class offered by Lifehack. It’s a 20-minute intensive class called Spark Your Learning Genius, and will surely upgrade your learning skills right away. Find out more about it here.

    Final Thoughts

    The more we grow older, the more important it is for us to retain memories. If we do not exercise our minds, we risk exposing ourselves to more and more inconveniences.

    Like your body, make a habit of developing your mind. The memory palace could be just the thing you need to get started.

    More Tips on Enhancing Memory

    Featured photo credit: Kat Stokes via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Developing Human Brain: Method of Loci
    [2] Peak Performance Training: Dominic O’Brien
    [3] Guiness Record: Most Pi places memorised
    [4] American Psychological Association: A powerful way to improve learning and memory

    More by this author

    Leon Ho

    Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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    Last Updated on September 24, 2020

    Learning Methods to Help You Learn Effectively and Easily

    Learning Methods to Help You Learn Effectively and Easily

    You’re never too old to learn, and this isn’t just some fancy statement; this is many people’s motto in life. If you agree, there are various learning methods to help you ensure that you continue to learn day in and day out.

    We have all been learning since childhood—our parents teach us morals, our teachers teach us math, society teaches us acceptance, our work teaches us how to do our job, etc. Even if you’re 70, life has a whole new book of things to teach you; you just need to have the heart and willingness to learn.

    What you learn today will always benefit your current and future self. The question is, with such limited time in life, how can we learn effectively?

    In this article, I’ll introduce to you the essential learning methods and some of the best ways to learn.

    The Best Ways to Learn

    There are so many different ways of learning, and here, I’ve handpicked some of the best ways that will definitely help you in being an effective learner[1].

    Here Are The Best Learning Methods for Retention

      1. Your Comfort Zone

      For most people, staying in their own comfort zone opens their minds and helps them retain information. For instance, many learn and retain information when they’re taking notes on a piece of paper; others learn by watching videos and documentaries relevant to the topic.

      By finding out how you’re comfortable learning will surely help you in effectively retaining new information, and you will remember it for a longer period of time.

      2. Learning Through Play

      Just like children learning actively, you can learn through play. This doesn’t literally mean building blocks out of plastic Lego, but by implementing what you have learned[2]. If you’ve just learned a new way to make quiche, the best way of making sure you know it properly and remember it is by immediately making it at home.

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      3. Pass That Information on

      If you’ve learned something, avoid passive learning, and, instead, pass the information on to someone else.

      When you go through what you’ve learned and are explaining the process to someone else through this teaching method, you will learn and remember better.

      One study found that teaching information is so effective in introducing it to our long-term memory because it forces us to retrieve that information over and over again[3].

      In classrooms, there is a frequent activity of dividing students into groups, and one of them explains to other classmates what the day’s lecture was about. This not only helps the speaker understand concepts better, but when other classmates are being reinforced with the lesson, they also remember better.

      4. Rote Learning Is a Big NO

      Many people try to memorize word by word what they have been taught, as if they were sitting in a written exam. Teachers discourage rote learning in students as well because by only memorizing some words, the goal isn’t met. The main point here is to truly understand and connect the dots of what you’ve learned.

      The generation today has grown up with computers and is used to getting all the information needed at the click of a button, which means they don’t really absorb the true meaning of what they’re learning.

      Rote learning is just like that. You just pick up the information from somewhere and learn it word for word, which doesn’t really help you understand anything, only to memorize.

      Learning is all about being able to express what you have understood about a particular concept. It is being able to give your own opinion about a certain event, instead of just knowing the facts. Somewhere along the line, we do want to learn new things, but some of us have the attention span of a goldfish or simply don’t know the smart learning methods.

      Some people may be more receptive to one kind of method, and some to another. A smart person would try and find out which method of learning is best suited to them, and use that to enhance their learning process. The following learning methods will be helpful for you.

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      Types of Learning Methods

      Essentially, there are 7 types of learning methods that researchers have compiled over time. If one resonates with you, it’s likely that it’s your preferred learning method.

      Visual

      This type of learning requires visual material to understand. This could be in the form of videos, graphics, and images. This method helps people in visually understanding what they see.

      You may be this type of learner if you often imagine faces to remember someone’s name, use landmarks to give directions, or need to write down information to remember it.

      Aural

      This kind of learning style uses audio like music and sounds to understand. You may like this learning method if you often remember information after lectures or are good at memorizing the words to songs.

      Verbal

      This method is usually for people who like to speak and narrate their stories in order to learn. This can be done through scripted speeches, impromptu narrations, or even just daily conversations.

      Logical

      Many people like learning through logic; they won’t understand a concept if they’re just spoon-fed it.

      They want proper reasoning to why and how something happened for them to properly learn something.

      These people are often very good at forming arguments, problem-solving, and participating in debates.

      Social

      This is when people learn better when they’re divided into groups and are with other people. These social groups help expand their horizons and give them confidence to ask questions and solve problems.

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      Solitary

      This learning style is usually best for people who prefer to learn alone in a confined place that has no distractions whatsoever. They are either easily distracted with other people.

      Physical

      This is a learning technique where people learn through physical acts, like using their hands or simply by the sense of touch.

      This technique is used when a child actively participates in order to learn. For example, to help them understand what “fluffy” means, they are asked to touch a cotton cushion or a hairy cat. This is how children learn and understand better.

      However, many adults learn with this learning method as well. If you enjoy building or designing things, this may be your preferred learning method.

      What types of learning methods suit you better? You can find out in this article: How This Learning Style Quiz Can Help You Make the Most of Your Life

      In order to support any kind of learning listed above, you have to be physically fit and healthy. Your mind and body need to be nurtured in order for any kind of learning method to be effective. Here are some of the things that can be done on a daily basis to maintain a receptive mind and body.

      Habits to Help You Learn

      To be an effective listener, you also have to be able to retain that information. People learn new things every day, but only a portion of those people are able to remember what they learned by the end of the day.

      There are some tried and tested home remedies that have worked like a charm for people who are looking to enhance their memory.

      Sleep More

      An active brain is one that sleeps almost 8-10 hours a day. If you’re overworked and sleep for barely five hours, there are chances that your brain needs rest to retain information.

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      But if you’re somebody who sleeps for 11-15 hours a day, you may just be too lazy and need to engage in healthy activities to keep your brain active.

      Eat Healthy

      Include lots of protein and Omega-3s in your diet. Drink lots of water and generally stay away from refined carbs.

      You don’t have to quickly switch over to salads, but just generally try to adapt to a healthier eating pattern. Limit the use of alcohol and caffeine because they slow down your brain, causing a hindrance in your learning journey.

      Here are 15 Brain Foods You Should Be Eating Regularly to Keep Your Mind Sharp.

      Socialize

      By meeting new people every day, you’re not only giving your brain a chance to open up, but you’re also having your brain exercise by getting new information. Talking to people and engaging in daily conversations helps the flow of information.

      Do Activities That Challenge Your Brain

      If your brain hasn’t yet been exposed to challenges where you really have to think and work your mind, you may not be an effective learner, despite engaging in the above learning methods. There are many activities that increase your motor skills, like puzzles, mathematical questions, or even solving crosswords in your daily newspaper. You can also try these 11 Brain Training Apps to Train Your Mind and Improve Memory.

      When your brain is active and running, you possess a better chance of learning new things and actually retaining that information.

      Final Thoughts

      Learning has been a safe haven for so many people, whether it’s about learning to cook a complicated dish for a family gathering or simply about sewing a button on a shirt.

      The best among us are people that don’t let anything get in the way of their learning process; these people make it their life motto to wake up every day and learn at least one new thing before going to bed. And these people are all around us; we are these people.

      The knowledge we gain today can benefit our career, relationships, and our everyday life, so get started now.

      More on Utilizing the Learning Methods

      Featured photo credit: Sarah Noltner via unsplash.com

      Reference

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