The Secret of organising memory

NLP techniques

The secret of organising memory will enable you to build on the skills you have learned on other pages in this website and enable you to demonstrate your genius still further.  

You know already that the answer lies in knowing how to use your memory rather than thinking you are too immature to remember or are so old you have forgotten how to memorise.


I would forget it fain;

But, O, it presses to my memory

like damned guilty deeds to a sinner’s mind

William Shakespeare – Romeo & Juliet


Mnemosyne, the Greek goddess of memory, inspired the memory triggering aid now known as mnemonics.  

Every music student will know that to remember the lines of the treble clef staff, EGBDF, she need only remember Every Good Boy Deserves Fruit, or Face (FACE) for the spaces.  

Linking words in a sensible or silly manner aids the memory and, just like bizarre images, the sillier the better.

The Secret - mnemonics

An English High Court judge recently needed some strong persuasion that he couldn’t fix a trial for April 31.  

You would have expected him to know the rhyming mnemonic Thirty days hath September, April, June and November.  All the rest have thirty one, excepting February alone, which has but twenty eight days clear and twenty nine on each Leap Year.  

He might have saved himself some embarrassment when he stubbornly refused to change the trial date!

The Secret – the link

Another basic memory system is known as The Link, and it is a starting point for other systems.  

If you have a list of items to remember, it enables you to remember them by linking images in a chain from first to last.  

The system is also handy for memorising key points for a presentation or examination.

As always, note that when you picture your image you exaggerate it.  Make it enormous or minuscule.  

Then make it ridiculous and as colourful as you can imagine.  

Associate as many of your senses as possible with it, and if you can make it a moving image, so much the better.  

See the picture.  Make it bright and colourful.  Hear any sounds associated with it.  Does it have a smell?  What does it feel like to the touch.  Does it have a taste?

The Secret – all the senses

Before you start this exercise, play with the idea.  Imagine the first item on your list is a bunch of roses.  See the bright colours of those beautiful blooms. 

Make the picture big.  Now imagine that beautiful scent and touch your finger on its thorny stem.  

No-one who has ever pruned roses could forget the piercing sensation from that thorny stem!  

Recall the sound of snipping the stem with secateurs in order to harvest the rose.  All those things reinforce the image in your mind.

Now think of your list.  Let us say it is for your shopping.  Start by organising it into sections.  Perhaps we could start with household goods; box of tissues; washing up liquid;  scissors.  

Then move on to food:  sausages, potatoes, butter, tomatoes.  Then move to personal items:  razor blades, perfume, nail file. 

The time has come to link the items in a memorable way.  Your first item is a box of tissues and the second one is washing up liquid.  

Close your eyes for a moment and visualise the washing up liquid.  See the brightly coloured lettering on the container.  

Now exaggerate its size.  Make it a giant.  See it standing in the shopping aisle where those items are kept and imagine, for example, that it has a nose and hands and it is sneezing.  

In one hand it is holding a box of tissues and the other hand is taking the tissues and wiping its nose.

Once you have that firm, silly image in your mind you can, for a moment, forget about the tissues and moved to the scissors, linking the washing up liquid to the scissors in an equally stupid way, and then go through the list  until you have finished.  

When you have made the associations, run back through them in your mind, recalling each link.  Now you are ready to go shopping.

The Secret - travel

If you travel frequently, it is useful to have an exercise for memorising your travel items.  

I start by getting out my suitcase in the bedroom and going through my routine from the moment I get out of bed.  

Imagine going into the bathroom and showering.  What do I use?  Toilet bag.  Mentally run through using the items in the toilet bag, shaving gear etc.  

Then I mentally dress myself:  underclothes, shoes, shirt, jeans and so on.  What formal clothes do I need for business?  Mentally I dress myself in business clothes. 

I have used that system successfully for years.  It all seems very straight forward but it is surprising how many people don’t bother to use a simple system like that and are then disappointed when they leave something behind and blame their bad memory.  

It really had little to do with their memory; it was more a question of being too lazy to memorise the items they needed to take with them.

The Secret – the Roman room

If you need to make a speech, I recommend the Roman room system.  Find a convenient room in the house in which to start.  

Highlight and memorise one or two key anchor points in the room and then walk to the next room.  

Gradually walk around the house remembering significant points in the rooms and corridors. 

Don’t forget to include the bathrooms and kitchen as well.  You might even care to include the garden.  

Take a mental walk around the garden again noting those things that stand out like, for example, garden ornaments, a swimming pool, greenhouse or summer house.

When you come to prepare your speech, start at the beginning of your mental walk and, in turn, link each point (in the way you used the link system above) you wish to make in your speech with each item. 

Then when you stand up to address your audience mentally take yourself to the beginning of your walk, In the first place, so to speak and, as you walk confidently through your various places everything will emerge in the order you wish.




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