How to memorize numbers to make online shopping easier

Isn’t it annoying when you’re about to buy something online, only to realize that your credit card is in the other room, and wouldn’t it be nice if you could just remember your card number?

Here’s how you can commit a sequence of numbers to memory:

  1. Make a list of objects that each represent a number from 1 to 9.
  2. Create a story based on the numbers (and thus items) you want to remember.

Developing a list of objects

Think of objects that physically look like the numbers. For example:

Zero (0) – A ball
One (1) – A flagpole
Two (2) – A swan
Three (3) – A pregnant woman
Four (4) – A sailboat
Five (5) – A fish hook
Six (6) – A golf club
Seven (7) – A boomerang
Eight (8) – An hourglass
Nine (9) – A tadpole

Creating a story based on the numbers

Let’s assume you want to remember a phone number: 034 643 352 987.

First, translate the numbers into items: Ball, Pregnant woman, Sailboat, Golf club, Sailboat, Pregnant woman, Pregnant woman, Sailboat, Swan, Tadpole, Hourglass, Boomerang.

Then crate a storyline based on the items, preferably taking place at a location or route you know (perhaps the way you take to work):

A giant red ball bounces down the street, chased by a  naked pregnant woman on a sailboat carrying a cargo of golden golf clubs. The golden golf clubs have a logo etched into the club heads: a black pirate ship (sail boat) in the middle, flanked by two pregnant one-eyed pirates. One of the pirates has a tattoo of a fish hook piercing the neck of an angry black swan about to eat a glowing green (and radioactive) tadpole. Sand starts dripping from the sky, getting in your eyes – it turns out that the whole story takes place inside an hour glass that sits on top of a boomerang flying through outer space..

Read and envision the story a few times, move away from the computer for a few minutes (get a cup of coffee), and then try to recall the story, writing the numbers down as you go along. How many digits did you recall?

This method is a bit slow but it really helps you commit the numbers to your long term memory, which means that as time goes by, you’ll still be able to recall the story, and thus the numbers.

Have fun! 🙂

Looking for more info?

See Joshua Foer’s interesting TED-talk about “feats of memory anyone can do”,

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