The oldest known mnemonic strategy is the loci method, which dates back to 500 B.C. Loci is the plural of locus, which means place or location. This method is based on the assumption that people best remember familiar locations; therefore, these locations serve as clues to help remember information associated with them.
To use the loci method effectively, all you do is link something you want to remember with a location. When you want to recall the information, you simply remember the location. This works well for people who are good at visualizing.
Here is how you start:
• Choose a place you know well, such as your house.
• Visualize a series of locations in that place in a logical order. For example, begin at your front door, go through the hall, turn into the living room, proceed through the dining room and into the kitchen. As you enter each location, always move logically and consistently in the same direction, from one side of the room around to the other. Each piece of furniture can act as an additional location.
• When you want to remember information, you will associate each piece of information in the order it is to be remembered with a particular location in the house.
Let’s say you want to remember a shopping list: printer paper, onions, hamburger, ice cream, carrots.
As you visualize your front door, imagine the paper plastered all over your front door. Don’t just imagine the words ‘printer paper’ – really see the paper, pure white sheets all over your door. Now open the door and enter the hall, where you see a huge yellow cooking onion sitting on the steps in your front hall, sipping on a pina colada. Now turn to your living room, and visualize a tall carrot wearing a red bandana standing by the fireplace. Sitting in a chair by the fireplace is a giant Big Mac (hamburger) and the Big Mac is eating a vanilla ice cream cone.
When you want to remember your shopping list, all you have to do is visualize your front door. You will instantly see printer paper. As you enter the front hall you will see the onion pop into your mind. The more ridiculous and unusual you make your images, the easier you will remember them. This method is effective for remembering lists, speeches, names, or things to do – almost anything you want to remember. Have fun with it, and try it the next time you go grocery shopping – you’ll never forget anything again!