Are you good at remembering numbers? Could you recite the numbers 1224200001012001 after reading them just once? Probably not. I will show you how you can remember this kind of long numbers.
Changing the way you store information in your brain can enable you to remember more. Most of us are only able to remember five to nine pieces of information at a time.
But what if you split these numbers into these dates: 12/24/2000 and 01/01/2001? The information stays the same, but suddenly it’s much easier to remember. This is known as chunking. Chunking means combining information into bigger pieces that are easier to remember.
For instance, try to remember the 22 letters HEADSHOULDERSKNEESTOES. It becomes far easier if you try to remember it as HEAD, SHOULDERS, KNEES, TOES, as it turns 22 pieces of information into only four chunks. Even better, if you know the children‘s song “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes,” you can memorize the information as one single chunk.
Another way to improve memory capacity is by using elaborative encoding, which involves making information as vivid as possible. As our brains developed throughout evolution, we did not need to remember abstract facts, but rather the information from our senses to help us. Remembering things like the smell of plants that were poisonous or visual clues that showed us the way home were of primary importance to us.
So, we can take advantage of the way our brains are pre-programmed by employing our senses and imagining the things we want to remember as vividly as possible.
Let’s say you want to remember a shopping list of pickles, cottage cheese and salmon. To use elaborative encoding for your list, you could imagine a glass of pickles on your bedside table next to a tub of smelly cottage cheese in which a good-looking man or woman is bathing with a salmon. This way, you’re far more likely to remember the items!