I first learned about the peg system through pickup. The idea was simple: rather than bore a girl with dumb stories about work and parties like every other guy, you teach her an interesting skill. The next day the one guy she remembers is the one who stood out and taught her something.
And they say romance is dead.
One such example is the peg system, a quick and dirty way to memorize lists of ten items in about twenty seconds. The way it goes is this: the girl writes down a list of ten items, you memorize it almost instantly, prove that you have it memorized, and then teach her how to do it. If you're particularly crafty, you show off the skill and then tell her you'll teach her next time you see her. (This backfires when Mystery happens to meet the same girl the next day and teaches her the same thing... but I digress...)
Fast forward five years and not only do I still remember the peg system, I've also taught it to just about everyone I know, boy or girl, and I use it on a regular basis to memorize lists. I showed it to someone a few weeks ago and they suggested I make a blog post about it. Viola.
To see it in action, watch this video. Just in case you can't follow along and learn how to do it through the video, I've written out the instructions below.
The key to the system is memorizing this short rhyme. Say it out loud to hear the rhyming:
The easiest way to memorize this list is to associate a picture with each pair. For example, for one I imagine a giant cinnamon bun with a "1" birthday candle jammed into the middle of it. The more jarring the image the better you'll remember it. For three you imagine a tree with a trunk shaped like the number three. And so on.
You'll find that if you just go through the list once, making mental pictures for each number, you'll be able to recite the list by memory. If you get stuck, just start thinking of words that rhyme with the number.
Once you have that list down, it's easy to associate the new images with new lists to instantly commit them to memory. Take this excerpt from a list:
For number one, imagine a cinnamon bun with a teapot smooshed on top of it. For number two imagine pencils acting like legs with big red converse sneakers covering the points. For three imagine a tree with books hanging from every branch.
These weird images work instantly - no need to review. Just go through each item on the list, associate the matching image with it, and move on. It won't feel like you have it memorized, but you actually do.
There are a couple hidden advantages to this method of memorization:
One last tip: if you're doing this to impress someone, casually watch and memorize the list as they write it. When they're done, pick it up, stare at it for one second, and then declare that you've memorized it.
(By the way, I hope you guys like these videos. I have two more lined up for Tuesday and Friday)
Thanks Tynan, I tried this with 10 different playing cards a few days ago to see how well it worked, I still remember all of them today!
I very much enjoyed this. Great for memorizing short shopping lists. There is nothing worse than running out for a few things, and forgetting a necessary item. The power of the mind...
Neat. I wonder, though, if I come up with a particularly compelling image for one of the numbers for one list, might it get jumbled up, I'll always have a hard time replacing that number with the one from future lists?
I also don't understand why a dentist needs to know any more about the teres major or subscapularis than I do.
Hey Tynan, I think I might be able to help add to your knowledge about memory techniques -- a popular british illusionist called Derren Brown wrote a book including a couple of memory techniques like the one you explained. He actually included a more 'advanced' technique that's quicker called Memory Palace, and a different peg system that lets you remember long numbers.
You could check out his book, 'Tricks of the Mind' or if you're interested I could explain them here =)
This week I've been going through the seven plastic boxes of stuff that I've had stored in my dad's garage. I thought I only had two or three, but when it's not stored at your own place, it's easy to lose track. He asked me to consolodate it into fewer boxes, which is a pretty reasonable request for a minimalist.
So I went through it all, and it was an amazing trip back in time. I found old notes, an unopened time capsule from 1993, an MC Hammer casette, and a bunch of other stuff I'd forgotten about. I also found a bunch of stuff from my first girlfriend, Allison.
Allison wasn't the first girl I ever called my girlfriend, but she was my first girlfriend. The first girl I went on dates with, the first girl I loved, and the first girl I slept with. The whole thing should have never really happened, statistically speaking. If we each have a certain amount of luck in dating, then after her I probably should have been single for the rest of my life.
Do you often forget where you put things, like your keys? I'm fascinated by the way our brains work, and here's what I've deciphered to date:
People who forget where they put their keys, etc. may actually need to work on "Original Awareness". The theory is that you aren't actually forgetting, but you were actually never aware of where you put them in the first place. By being "originally aware" of where you put something, you won't forget it later.
The brain remembers by association. That's why people often say, "Oh that reminds me of...". You can take advantage of this by using the "peg" system. Here's a brief overview (although the memory books in the link above go into more detail). First, the hard part. You have to memorize the following letters with the numbers 1 to 10:
â—¦1 = T
â—¦2 = N
Do you often forget where you put things, like your keys? I'm fascinated by the way our brains work, and here's what I've deciphered to date: People who forget where they put their keys, etc. may actually need to work on "Original Awareness". The theory is that you aren't actually forgetting, but you were actually never aware of where you put them in the first place. By being "originally aware" of where you put something, you won't forget it later. The brain remembers by association. That's why people often say, "Oh that reminds me of...". You can take advantage of this by using the "peg" system. Here's a brief overview (although the memory books in the link above go into more detail). First, the hard part. You have to memorize the following letters with the numbers 1 to 10: â—¦1 = T â—¦2 = N â—¦3 = M â—¦4 = R â—¦5 = L â—¦6 = SH â—¦7 = K â—¦8 = V â—¦9 = B â—¦0 = S Once you've memorized these letters to numbers, you can start combining them. Vowels are "free", i.e., you can add them anytime. So, for example, if someone asks you to remember a shopping list of the following items, you'd do it as follows: Milk, carrots, hamburgers, apples... etc. Since milk is the first item, you create an association with your first "peg" of "T". My word is "tie" (remember, you can add any vowels you want). So then I imagine, for example, a tie tied around a jug of milk. My next word is "noah" (using "N" for #2). So for carrots, I'd imagine a pair of carrots marching out of Noah's Ark. My next word is "mow" (using "M"). So for hamburgers, maybe I'd imagine mowing a hamburger (messy!). And so on. Creating vivid images in your mind based on these "pegs" helps you remember (that's the association part I was referring to earlier.) You can read more about the "peg" system here.