The link method, also known as the chain system, is the most basic of mnemonic strategies used to boost your memory. It can be used for memorizing short list of items, such as shopping lists, in which each item is linked to the next. Here is how it works:
• Form a visual image for each item on the list
• Associate the image for the first item with the image for the second item
• Associate the image for the second item with the image for the third item, and so on
• Begin with the first item and proceed in order as each item leads to the next one to recall the list
Try not to associate every item with every other item; instead, you are just associating the items two at a time. Here is a sample grocery list that can be easily remembered using the link method:
Milk, eggs, pork chops, syrup, peas
First, form a visual association between milk and eggs. You might imagine an egg trying to cram itself into a glass milk bottle. Next, create a link between eggs and pork chops. Perhaps you could visualize a pig dancing with a giant egg. To associate pork chops with syrup, imagine a pig dipping its tail into a pool of maple syrup.
When you are creating your visual associations, make sure you see them clearly in your mind.
There are limitations with this method; each item is linked to the previous one, except for the first item. You will need to come up with a way to cue that first item on your list. If the list is a shopping list, try linking the first item with the entrance way of a grocery store.
If you can use the link method to successfully remember ten items, you can use it to remember twenty or thirty items, as well. There is no limit to how many items you can remember.
Here is how you can practice using the link system. Have someone give you ten concrete words – not verbs or adjectives – and write them down as they are called out. Writing them down will enable the other person to check your responses, and it will give you a brief amount of time to think of links. Whatever the first word is, associate it with the person who is calling out the words. If the first word is elephant, imagine seeing an elephant sitting on that person’s head. Once you have mastered linking ten words, try for fifteen, then twenty, and so on.