(Men’s Health) Even brainiacs lose their keys. They just know how to jump start their memories, says Scott Hagwood, who memorized the order of nine decks of cards in an hour to become the first American Grandmaster of Memory. Here are his tips on recalling:
- Long List — Walk into a grocery or music store without a list and chances are, you’ll forget something you came for. Mental lists can dissolve when you’re faced with an abundance of similar choices. The brain booster – visualize each choice. “The more unusual, the more easily it can be recalled,” says Shane Bush, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist on Long Island, NY. Imagine Keira Knightley holding the milk in one hand and a loaf of bread in the other, wearing nothing but a miniskirt make out of your favorite cereal. Bizarre? Sure. Effective? Definitely.
- A Date’s Details — Remember little things: her dog’s name, her favorite color – and she’ll be eating out of your hand. But that laundry list of information is difficult to sort out, particularly when you’re paying more attention to her lips. The brain booster – use the room technique. “You’ll be able to recall a tremendous amount of information quite quickly,” says Hagwood. Pick a room that’s familiar to you. As she’s telling you things about her life, imagine her doing them in different parts of that room. If she likes running, picture her jogging in the corner. If she watches “Gilmore Girls,” imagine her watching it on your TV. And so on.
- Phone Numbers — The brain’s buffer can handle only so many numbers. So, “combine them into bigger units,” says George W. Rebok, Ph.D., professor in the department of mental health at Johns Hopkins University. The brain booster – find meaning in sections of the number. Phone numbers are already broken up, but rechunk them to simplify. Look for three and four digit patterns and link them to years, area codes, whatever.
- Introductions — “It doesn’t matter how good you are at remembering things,” says Hagwood. “Even the best experts can forget information if it’s delivered too quickly.” The brain booster – the key here, says Hagwood, is to control the flow of information. As you’re being introduced, pause at the third person. Make a comment on his or her name, outfit, or resemblance to some celebrity. As others are responding, mentally review the names of the first two people you just met. Repeat with every third person you meet.