In almost everything we do, there are numbers involved - telephone numbers, credit card and ATM numbers, zip codes, passwords, calculations, and many others! Whether you love them or you hate them, numbers are here to stay. In order to cope up with today’s hectic lifestyle, you have to be able to remember a lot of numbers, or you’ll end up getting all confused and disorganized.
Contrary to words that can be associated with an object, numbers are difficult to remember because they are abstract. If I say think of a pen, your mind immediately visualizes the pen. But if I say 2473, you will have a hard time committing it to memory.
In this chapter, you’ll be taught various memory techniques to remember numbers better so you can perform your usual transactions quicker and more efficiently.
Your senses, particularly the ears and eyes, may prove to be effective in recalling numbers. Here’s how it works:
Repeat the number several times to yourself. It may be difficult for you to remember a number such as “2895” as an abstract thing, but easy for you to remember the sound of “twenty-eight ninety-five.”
You may also visualize the number. Write it down several times to lodge it to your memory bank. An even better idea is to create a vivid image of that number for better memory retention. Visualize “2895” beautifully laid out on a billboard in large sizes and luminous colors, with pieces of jewelry all around it. The number just follows you wherever you go. You see it everywhere. It’s on your bathroom mirror, on the TV screen, in the fireplace, it just won’t let you go! You can even intensify the image by making a jingle or slogan like “2895, I like you to jive!”
You may forget that the number of a certain house or office is 2895, but you may easily remember the sound of the spoken words "two-eight-nine-five," or the form of "2895" as you see it on the door of the place.
The Law of Association may be used advantageously in memorizing numbers. For instance, one might remember the number 186,000 (the number of miles per second traveled by light-waves in the ether) by associating it with the number of his father's former place of business, "186." Another person may remember his zip code "1876" by recalling the date of the Declaration of Independence.
Converting Numbers to Words
One very common yet practical technique to remember numbers is to transform them to words. Probably the easiest way to do this is to assign each number 1 to 9 a letter equivalent: A=1, B=2, C=3, D=4, and so on. Using this technique, 742 turns into GDB. The letters GDB doesn’t make much sense, so you have to turn it into an acrostic. How about “Great Dancing Bellies?” The next time you want to recall 742, just recall “Great Dancing Bellies” and convert the first letters of each word back to their number equivalents. If you think the phrase “Great Dancing Bellies” may still slip your mind, create an image of fat tummies
dancing merrily to the beat of the drum.
Here’s another example. If you need to remember your system password which is 135, then you may imagine your computer “Allowing Cute Entrance”
to someone as adorable as you. ☺
The Picture Code
Using this technique, you assign an image to each number 1 to 9 that is similar to its appearance. See how the numbers below look like the objects they are representing:
0 = ball
1 = magic wand
2 = swan
3 = fork
4 = sailboat
5 = seahorse
6 = bomb
7 = crowbar
8 = hourglass
9 = balloon
Memorize all the symbols above and their number equivalents. If you find that these symbols do not stick in your mind, then convert them to something that you can remember better. After memorizing the images, you can begin using this method.
Let’s say you want to remember the street number of your friend’s home, which is 289. You can then visualize a swan (2) swimming with an hourglass (8) at it’s back; and tied to the hourglass is a big red balloon (9). Or let’s say you want to remember 471. You can imagine a sailboat (4) with a crowbar (7) hanging at its side; and glued to the crowbar is a long wand (1).
The Major Memory System
This method is a bit complicated and detailed; but once you get the hang of it, you can remember long strings of numbers and you can even impress your friends! In this method, each number is assigned a consonant or a consonant sound based on the following:
0 = s, z, soft-c (“z” is first letter of zero)
1 = t ( “t” is similar to a 1 with a line through it)
2 = n (“n” has two bars)
3 = m (“m” has three bars)
4 = r (“r” is last letter of four)
5 = L (“L” is Roman numeral for 50)
6 = j, sh, ch, soft-g (“g” is 6 rotated 180 degrees)
7 = k (“k” looks like two 7s rotated and pasted together)
8 = f, v (“f” written in cursive has two loops similar to 8)
9 = p, b (“p” and “b” looks like 9 in different angles)
Here’s how this system works. Get the consonant or consonant sounds of the numbers, and add vowels between them to form a group of words, phrase, or sentence.
Let’s say the phone number you want to remember is 854-0341. Convert that to “flr-smrt.” Add some vowels and you will come up with something like “flower smart.” The next time you need to access that phone number, just remember “flower smart.” You can even add a dash of visualization and humor by imagining a flower with thick glasses and a diploma, reading “Theory of Relativity.”
List of Memory Words
Let’s take the Major Memory System to the next level. (Refer to the table in the previous lesson) What you’re going to do with the consonants or consonant sounds is to make a list of words that relate to them. Let me give you some samples below:
1 = t = toe
2 = n = Noah
3 = m = Ma
4 = r = rat
5 = L = Law
6 = j = jaw
7 = k = key
8 = f = fee
9 = p = pea
0 = z = zoo
What about numbers with double digits? The word must start with the consonant representing the first number, and must end with the consonant representing the second digit. Examples are below:
10 = ts = toes
11 = tt = teeth
12 = tn = tin
13 = tm = Tom
14 = tr = tire
15 = tL = tail
16 = tg = tag
17 = tk = tack
18 = tf = Tif
19 = tb = tub
20 = ns = nose
These list of memory words will help you associate something with a number. For example, you made a list of things to do at your house and task number 7 is cleaning the refrigerator. Connect the key (assigned image of 7) with the appliance. You can visualize a large key stuck in your refrigerator door. If task number 9 is cleaning the toilet, you can imagine lots of peas (assigned image of 9) floating in the toilet bowl.
This advanced tool can be pretty helpful in remembering items that are arranged in chronological order. For example, in the Ten Commandments, you want to know Commandment Number 4 (Respect thy father and thy mother). So you visualize your parents in elegant clothes holding white rats in their hands.
Once you’ve become familiar with the words you’ve made up to represent the numbers, you’ll be able to recall any item on a list just by hearing its number, regardless of the arrangement.
But how many words should you create? That depends on your necessity. Many people have a list of a hundred words. Although that may seem extensive, as long as you know the consonant or consonant sounds representing each number, you have nothing to worry about.
The Major Memory System, combined with a witty visualization, can also be used to remember special dates.
Let’s say you need to remember your friend’s birthday, which is May 11. You can visualize your friend with a birthday hat asking “May I clean your teeth?” (“Teeth” represents the number 11, see table above).
How about if you want to remember a party scheduled on Sunday at 4:00 p.m.? For days of the week, you may assign a number for each. (e.g. Sunday = 1, Monday = 2, Tuesday = 3, and so on).
Now we do the translation: 14 (1 being Sunday and 4 being 4:00 p.m.) For 14, we’ve assigned the image of tire. A visualization of a wild party with tires being thrown everywhere would be a great reminder that you have a party on Sunday at 4:00 p.m.
What if it’s 4:30? Or 4:15? Well, simply use the words quarter, half, and three quarters to represent the different parts of an hour (15 minutes past, 30 minutes past, and 45 minutes past). Then you can inject it into your visualization.
For the example above, you can include quarters being showered (aside from the tires) if the party starts at 4:15.
What if it’s 4:25? Choose the nearest quarter hour so you won’t be late! ☺
You can sometimes end up confused over the many TV channels that we have nowadays; therefore, you may forget some or a lot of them. Here’s how to solve this dilemma:
Let’s take NBC (National Broadcasting Company, Channel 7) for example. You can turn the letters NBC into an acrostic like Naughty Big Cats. Visualize the largest unusual cats you’ve ever seen, with bright green eyes and the longest tails possible, running wildly all over the place. To remember 7, convert it into its word equivalent which is “key.” So to remember that NBC is channel 7, imagine Naughty Big Cats playing around with large, shiny keys.