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Memorize any long list in 2 minutes

Remembering and memorizing anything can often be quite challenging for most everyone. Even those with the best memories cannot memorize more than seven characters at any given time. While this is not to discredit anyone who may be able to most of us lack the ability to memorize long strings of characters and numbers in short time spans. Before we begin I want you to try in memorize this list, remember as much as you can in 2 minutes. Please, try to do this before reading ahead.

  1. Aardvark
  2. Chocolate
  3. Truck
  4. Cat
  5. Oil Lamp
  6. Urn
  7. Painting
  8. Letter
  9. Sandwich
  10. Computer
  11. Boots
  12. Rocking Chair
  13. Nail Clippers
  14. Collar
  15. Statue
  16. Giraffe
  17. Lingerie
  18. Speakers
  19. Shotgun
  20. Yogurt
  21. Diamond
  22. Ganesha
  23. Door Knob
  24. Diary
  25. Key
  26. Wrestler
  27. Bed
  28. Window
  29. Piano
  30. Mailbox

Did you try? Unless you already know the technique I am going to give you; there is no way you could have memorized the list in 2 minutes or less. Some of you may have tried to make a sentence of the words but most of you probably didn’t get to far. You may have made it as far as painting, but don’t be hard on yourself this is merely a limitation of the human mind.

The technique I am going to show you is a mnemonic device similar to ones teacher’s may have taught in schools. Such as King Hector Doesn’t Usually Drink Cold Milk, would be a mnemonic device to memorize the metric system Kilo Hecto Deca Units Deci Centi Milli. Mnemonic devices have always been a tremendously powerful learning tool. Before I show you how to recall a long list of words in a short time, I ask that you please write down what you do remember.

How is it possible to remember a list so long in such a short time? We can do it by using what comes naturally to us; by imagining it in our heads. Words and letters are an abstract thing if I say cow you don’t think of the letters C O W, you think of a large beast of burden that may be brown or white. If I say don’t picture a blue horse you can’t help but picture it. It’s using that visualization skill that will help us recall the list.

The first word on the list is aardvark, a little armored animal. Picture an aardvark in your head sleeping on the ground. Now we look at the next word chocolate. We need to link the two together. So picture that cute sleeping aardvark on the ground with sweet puppy dog eyes. Now imagine that aardvark getting boiling hot chocolate poured on him until he floats up in a pool of chocolate. Think of how it makes you feel, do you find it upsetting, funny, sad?

The next word is truck so envision a large tractor trailer truck broken down on the road. Except there is an audience of people staring at it because it is made of chocolate. The key to visualizing each word is to make the scenario as ridiculous as possible. If I were to picture a regular foil wrapped chocolate truck I would be more apt to forget than a giant larger than life chocolate truck.

Picture a truck driving 70 kmh an hour when all of a sudden it slams on its breaks and runs over a cat. Thud thud. You can see the cat and its guts strewn all over the place.

From here picture an oil lamp that looks like a small brass cat. The lamp’s flame burning brightly with the flame coming out of the cat’s tail.

Imagine an ornately designed urn sitting on the mantle place. It is illuminated by two oil lamps, the shadows of the urn flicker in the background. The scene is very somber and eerie.

On the wall is a very detailed painting of a giant urn with its ashes spilled. You can see every brush stroke in the painting, and you are amazed at each fleck of dust because it is a drop of paint. The urn looks to be painted by a renaissance master.

What a peculiar thing, with paint brush in hand someone is painting a letter on the side of the building. Dearest beloved it says, everyone is watching as this man paints a love letter.

Whole wheat bread, lettuce, mayonnaise, tomato, fresh roasted turkey, a sandwich fit for a king. You look closer at the sandwich and see that someone wrote a letter in marker on the sandwich.

You duck just in time to see someone’s sandwich hit your computer monitor. The sandwich slides down the screen leaving a trail of gooey mayonnaise and mustard.

You unpack your new computer to see it is made into an old black military boot. The cd-rom drive seems to be in the toe and instead of shoelaces it has a power cord.

An old lady is rocking back in forth in her chair wearing the most ridiculous large black boots you have ever seen. The boots come up to her knees and she rocks back and forth the boots never move.

There is a beautiful antique rocking chair, with bent wood arm rests and hand-lathed back posts, but instead of bent wood for legs it has two giant sets of nail clippers. Imagine the chair rocking back and forth but the nail clippers chomp open and closed.

A black stray dog wearing a collar and on the color hang some nail clippers. The nail clippers are engraved with the address of the Dog’s home.

There is a sculpture in town of a giant dog collar the size of ten cars. The collar was sculpted of granite and dwarfs the nearby houses.

You are looking at the sculpture of the thinker but instead of a man leaning forward in thought it is a giraffe looking contemplative.

At your local trip to the zoo you had to do a double take because the giraffe was dressed up in red frilly lingerie. He’s ready to be a super model. The brown spots of the giraffe compliment the red lingerie nicely.

There are two large black speakers, squeezed into lacy blue lingerie. The black cones on the speaker are covered by a blue brassiere. As the speakers thump, the brassiere expands and contracts.

The old wooden speaker is placed on a fence post. The double barrel shotgun is fired and the speaker explodes into a hundred pieces.

Its very stressful, every one is being held hostage by a man with a shotgun. Without warning the man turns and points the shotgun at you. He fires and strawberry yogurt splats across your face.

You get a plastic cup of yogurt for lunch with an extra container of shake ins. Instead of granola though, there are hundreds of sparkling diamonds that you are shaking and mixing in with your yogurt.

A giant elephant headed man sits across from you staring. You cannot tell if he is angry or happy because you are staring at a brilliant diamond in his forehead.

Ganesha the elephant headed god goes to open the door but rips the door knob off in his hand. He looks at the door knob then drops it on the floor.

You find your friend’s diary on the floor under her bed. You pull it out to see that glued on the front of it is a large door knob. It looks like the only way you can open the diary is by turning the door knob.

Inside the diary is a large skeleton key with oddly a picture of a key etched on the end of it.

The wrestler gets on the top of the ropes and jumps up flying down. You are on the mat looking at him as he comes flying down. The last thing you see is the gleam of his giant key belt buckle before he slams into you.

The tag team match gets crazier when the large wrestler sneaks off stage. Oh, ow he hit the other team from behind with a bed mattress and all.

A beautiful victorian bed with canopy fills the room. The bed has elegant silk and velvet sheets. For some reason though there is a window installed in the middle of the bed.

The furniture movers hoist the piano up with ropes and pulleys. The piano is sitting on the window ledge. A rope snaps and the piano swings into the window, glass flies everywhere.

As you open the mailbox a full-size piano comes flinging out. You look in the mailbox then at the piano and can’t figure out how the piano fit in the mailbox.

Now take a moment get your pen and paper again and write down the list. I will give you the first word Aardvark. If you didn’t get the entire list you certainly were able to get most of it. This method for memorizing things can be very useful and the more you practice the quicker and better you can get at it. Now if you did actually memorize it go through the list again. Only this time go through it backwards starting with mailbox. The technique is called the linking method and can be used to help you remember most anything easily. It is especially useful for remembering information for tests and quizzes.

However I can’t take credit for it. I first learned about the method in Derren Brown’s book Trick of the Mind. The linking method can be further utilized into more advanced techniques that can help you remember most anything. Including historical events, decks of cards and anything else you need to remember.

Further reading:
* 10 great links and 3 Rosicrucian techniques to improve memory
* Trick of the Mind

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