As I was thinking how I would answer, I realized I am rather inconsistent in handling centuries. That’s because I typically approach dates in a couple different ways.
My main interest is day-to-day use, for work, appointments, special dates (e.g.: birthdays) and so forth. For these, I mostly care about months together with day-of-week and/or day-of-month. I may care about year, but somewhat less so: often just to extract day-of-week; other times as special date within the centuries of my existence, i.e.:, 1900’s or 2000’s. More often than not, I don’t care much about the century in these cases because the context of the subject being memorized gives it away.
When it comes to most historical information, especially before the 20th century, I rarely care about month and day. in those cases, I have 2 approaches
i - I want the year and century
ii - I want a strong intuitive sense for when something occurred.
For the first of these cases, I am very inconsistent. Sometimes I just memorize 3-digits (e.g.: year 1772 becomes 772). Other times I do 2-digit year + 2-digit century. Occasionally, I glomp the whole 4-digits in one glumph.
For the second of these two cases—the more frequent situation, I think—I don’t care to much about specific dates, but I do want to lock in a strong sense of when things happened along a general timeline of history. Here I am more concerned with getting a sense of what was happening at the same time as my historical subject, what was happening around that time, a bit before and a bit after. So most of my efforts for historical information focus on trying to associate (by a variety of means) the subject in focus to previous near-contemporaneous events and persons.
Anyway, this is a longwinded message, perhaps only interesting to me, but it was helpful for me to notice my different use-cases.
I now think the most important question might be “what are your use-cases and which date information (century, year, month, day-of-month, day-of-week, day-of-year) do you value, per case?”
Anyway, sorry for the long post, but thanks for provoking this insight.