Help! Mnemonic Techniques for Restaurant Workers

Hello friends!

Let me start off by stating that I am a novice at mnemonics. I own copies of “Your Memory” by Higbee, “The Memory Book” by Lorayne. and a few others. I’ve been fascinated by these memory techniques ever since discovering their practicality in learning and remembering and have been trying to incorporate them into my life.

Which is were I’ve hit a speed bump.

I work at a fast paced seasonal restaurant where I am required to sell and recommend, food and beverage items, write the guests order down, course their meal accordingly with the kitchen, clear and reset for each course, remember regulars and special people, finding and adjusting guest allergy accommodations, etc etc the list goes on.

What I would like to be able to do with mnemonics…

  1. Create a system allowing me to memorize temporarily each guests’ order from their water preference, appetizer, entree, drink, dessert, special requests and allergies, and special occasions without writing them down.
  • I’d like to be able to do this with multiple tables at the same time, most sections have about 5 tables of 4 seats.
  1. A system for permanently memorizing the menu, prices, appetizer/entree ingredients, cocktail recipes, beer and wine tasting notes, special guests’ names and preferences.

  2. I’d like to be able to set up trigger (or link) points in my service that act as a reminder to do a specific task.

  3. Access my priorities mentally and organize them as a sort of “to do” task list

That’s most of it… The problem I’m having is knowing which tool is right for the job.

I’ve thought about using the entire restaurant as a Loci, but for which information?
Or should I use the restaurant as a sort of temporary Loci… hmmm.
Should I link peg words for menu items and ingredients?
Should I journey?
Knowing which technique to use is the bulk of my difficulty and thus why I am writing this.

Thanks for reading I hope I’ve made my thoughts clear to everyone and would love to hear what ideas you all have to offer.


I’ve wondered what I would do in your position. These probably aren’t the most effective tools for each objective, but they should work, so take this with a grain of salt.

These tasks run the gamut of the things MA’s learn to memorize. If you actually learn to do them well, you will undeniably be “the man” and everyone will know it. Ideally, you’d use different tools for most of the above. But it’s hard to get good at a bunch of different things so I’ll try to keep it simple at first.

  1. A whole bunch of small, specialized palaces would work wonders here. I’m thinking perhaps 30 Palaces with 5 loci each. If ghost images occur when using memory palaces several times in the same day, make 60 or 90. You might be able to pull it off with only 30, and that’s especially true as you begin to train in this way but are still writing down orders. The stakes are high, so you’ll have to evaluate that risk yourself and decide whether you will be able to use the same palaces over and over day after day… That may sound like an insane amount but it’s not actually that much work, not an insane amount, because making a palace of 5 loci is so easy to do. It will take some time, but these things you want to do aren’t particularly easy, so it’s going to take consistent work over time to be able to do them really well. You could make one palace while you’re parked at a stoplight that you drive past every day. Number each of the tables in the section 1 through five. In some organized an consistent way, like moving clockwise from the northernmost chair of each table, label each chair 1-5 or A-E. When making your palaces, you could make them in five different kinds of areas. 5 of the palaces could be on your route to work. 10 of them could be in your house or apartment because that’s such a useful palace to have (5 loci per room in 10 rooms) - you may have to spread out to the street in order to get that many rooms. To reiterate, these aren’t anything like hard-and fast rules. This is just the method that I would choose. The idea is that in each section (since you will only work one section per shift, right?), “Table 1” is your apartment table for instance, and chairs A, B, C, D, and E, are assigned to the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth room. So when this is all set up, you’ll have 5 loci per chair. The first locus could be the ordered drink, the second could be the entree, the third could be special requests about the entree, etc. If you make it into an organized rule like that then you won’t have to customize every palace. The first locus can ALWAYS be the drink. You’d be able to memorize all of the orders perfectly with practice because you’ll be memorizing the same limited number of images (entrees, for example) again and again. Using the same images again and again makes them easier to work with.

You may be able just to visualize the items on the table in front of each of the people. If that works for you, then awesome. Even then, you could benefit from having the 30 mini-palaces as back-ups that you could alternate with so you aren’t imagining similar items in the exact same places throughout the day.

  1. Just link the price to a mental image of the actual item if it is visually unique, or a representative mental image if not, such as a beak for “pico de gallo.” You don’t need to use palaces for this. Do memorize the prices, you’ll need to make 100 objects, one for every 2 digit number, based on a phonetic code such as the major system.

  2. Memorizing imperatives is something I have never been able to do successfully, so can’t help you there, good luck to you!

  3. Mmm, not sure about this one. Someone else will chime in with better advice.

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