Before the advent of smartphones, many of us had no trouble remembering a bunch of phone numbers. Now that we no longer have to rely as much on our working memory, our brain “muscles” for remembering numbers have weakened from lack of use. Improving your ability to remember numbers will help to build your memorization skills and boost your brain so you can better hold information at your fingertips in your everyday life.
In today’s podcast, I’ll be walking you through a list of techniques you might find helpful when remembering numbers. I’ll be doing so in a stream of consciousness way as if you’d just asked me over dinner about the best ways to remember numbers. I’ll be leaving it to you to take notes and in doing so, make use of your kinesthetic memory—which will help you to remember today’s lesson much more accurately! Everyone learns differently, so I’ll be giving you a wide range of techniques you can try, and you can apply the ones that best suit you.
- F: forget—what you already know about numbers, consider any bad habits you want to drop! Think about why you want to master numbers and how it could impact you.
- A: active—be active in your learning, be here and present with me for the duration of this podcast! Take notes and ask me questions!
- S: state—manage your state! Manage your physiology by looking after your body, take breaks and drink water. Manage your psychology and be genuinely curious about how to master numbers!
- T: teach—learn as though you are about to teach the material to someone else. By teaching another you’ll be learning the information twice and making it yours!
ABOUT MEMORISING NUMBERS
- Numbers are difficult to remember because they are abstract
- We can only really hold 5-9 numbers in our working memory (George Miller’s 7 plus or minus 2 study from 1956)
- Can apply some of the techniques I’ll list today to remembering other things in your life
- All learning is simply associating something you don’t know with something you do
- You have to connect a meaning with the new information you’re learning
- In learning we’re always putting together two bits of information: e.g. a feeling with a song
- A piece of information becomes more memorable for you if there is a meaning attached to it for you e.g. a date becoming meaningful because it is the birthday of someone you love, connecting two numbers with jersey numbers of your favorite sports players
CROSS STICKS TECHNIQUE
- This technique is about making the number less abstract and therefore easier to remember, which we do by turning the numbers you want to remember into words
- We can start by assigning a letter to each digit you want to remember e.g.1=a, 2=b, 3=c, 4=d
- Now, using 0863 as an example: this would equal the letters jhfc
- Now take this letter sequence, and, using the letters as the first letters of words of your choosing, make a sentence out of it—you can be creative with it! E.g. John has fun cash
- The phrase is more easily remembered and can be a helpful prompt for you to go back and remember the original letters and numbers you wanted to remember
NUMBER RHYME / NUMBER PICTURE METHOD
- Number picture method: “lookalikes”, instead of associating a letter, create a picture to match to each number
- E.g. what does a number one look like to you? A number seven? 2 could look like a swan, 3 like a heart
- This is especially effective if you tend to have a more visual brain
- Number rhyming: “sound-alikes”, make up rhymes that sound like the numbers you’re trying to remember e.g. 2 shoes, 3 trees, 4 door
- Instead of associating letters with each number, we associate sounds
- This is known as the most popular method: geniuses throughout history are said to have used this technique
- Based on a system in which ten digits are each associated with a sound of the English language e.g.1=ta, da, tha, 2=na, 3=ma, 4=ra, 5= la, 6=sh, ja, g, 7=k, c(hard), or g(hard), 8=v, f, or ph, 9=b or p, 0= z, s, or c
- To memorize long numbers you can create stories and pictures, adding in consonants where you like as they have no value e.g. 3=ma, add in a y to make it “my”
- These sounds are then connected together to make words and sentences to remember longer sequences of numbers
- For complex memorizations, pictures can be placed in specific locations around the home
- Then by walking around or visualizing the locations within the home, the images can be translated back into numbers using the alphanumeric system
- Once you get the hang of this system, possibilities open up: you can start translating all the numbers you see around you into pictures and into the alphanumeric system!