How to trigger memory

Hi all
I’m quite new to mnemonic technics but I’m enjoying them a lot.
Yesterday evening my wife went to bed and told me : “remember, before you reach me do [this] and [that]” . It goes without saying: I forgot to do both this and that. I did also imagined some kind of story that would help me remember: I saw me in the action on going upstairs (our bedroom is on the second floor) and being kept from strings, which actually was related to something my wife asked me to do. But nothing happened when, after a couple of hours, I took those stairs.
So my question is : how can I trigger a thought without using external aids such as some object laying in the stairs, in order to remember me to stop and think what I shall do?


HI ziotempa,

I have been having fun using mnemonics for many, many years, but I kept running into a problem remembering to do the jobs my wife plans for me.

I even tried to visualize actions very similar to what you describe. Not sure why, but that didn’t work for me either. And, if I tried leaving objects around to remind me, but then I got in more trouble and had to clean up my mess.

So, finally I thought of a way to make my problem a little better. What I did was memorize about 50 different excuses and 50 ways to apologize. Now she is getting tired of hearing them and has started to leave me alone.


Hope this helps,



@ziotempa Hey. Welcome to the forum. I’m Kemsimba and I’ll try to answer your question as best I can. Make a chain. Link the thoughts together. Give yourself a story. Make ridiculous images. Heck, be vulgar if you have to. It’s all based on your perspective. This art has basic rules and techniques but the execution is never uniform unless coached by a mnemonics teacher. Here’s one of mine. I recently applied this to binary code learning. For 15 symbols, the link is a single :anchor: for them all: :computer:. But I do admit that I used some previous info to hold everything together. Since I remember the English alphabet by number, I applied these to the code. Basically, “O” is place 15(ORCA TaiL), it is 01001111(OXYGEN^4), 01101111 is “o” and 00101111 has the same last four digits and is “/”(:computer:Opponent SLASHED forward). Every word, if told in some absurd story, should lead to the next.

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I use a ToDo list for this type of situation and review my list two,three times a day! I use ‘alphabet peg list’ to create my ToDo list in my mind! For example,let’s say, ‘Apple’ is for ‘A’ in my peg list! And one of my ToDo lists is ‘wash your hand’! So,I’d link apple with washing hand(apple is washing hands)!

We can use Memory Palace for the ToDo list,too…

You are forgetting your ‘story’,because you are not linking your story with something that you already know(ie,Memory Palace). Our brain loves ‘order’ and structure! If the brain knows that there is an ordered list that it will have to execute,it becomes easier for the brain to remember the lists!

Also,just creating story may not work well. You may have to review the list time to time…

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Thoughts are “triggered” by things relating to us, so it’s a matter of creating the context. That’s why leaving an object out of place reminds us.

So here’s a suggestion.

One way to try and “trigger” a thought might be to always step over the first step (assuming you usually step on it - if not then intentionally step on it) - just on the way up. Every time you do this action, you’re doing something that you’ve connected with having this thought, and after a while, even times you initially forget to do this action you think “oh, I was supposed to step like that” - and the connected thought arrives, too. It will take a few goes, but after a while it will be a habit to do, or realise you didn’t do, the action and have the connected thought.

It’s about drawing your attention to what you’re doing, to create a space between doing A and doing B where you can notice C.

You can try and think of something else you take for granted and that you do a lot, and add a small change to draw your attention into actively thinking. Try it out! :slight_smile:

The downside of mnemonics is that they work perfectly when called for, but not at all when not done so. If you are a routine kind of guy, you could implement it in there. A “check-memory-palace” box in your routine. If you are not a routine kind of guy, try the following. You want to be reminded of reviewing your palace.

  1. Focus
  2. Repeat
  3. Action

Start off by actually focussing. You might hear it, but you are not listening. Your mind is not with your wife, it is with the task you are doing at that moment. Learn to let current tasks rest for 10 seconds and focus on the conversation.

Then repeat. A simple “Take out the trash, and feed the cats, gotcha.” will do. Maybe turn it into a joke, “Take out the cats, feed the trash. Gotcha.”, have some fun with it, tensed moods are terrible for memory so lighten it up. As a bonus, humor is one of the things that sticks very well to our memory. As long as the thought of the tasks is in your mind for a little while longer, that is the main goal.

To repeat can also be a question. Around here we have three trash bins. One for plastics and most metals (at least those used in packaging), one for paper and one for foods and plant trash. So a question like “Which bin was going to get emptied today again?” could be a good one. Just don’t ask for the sake of asking. You merely want the thought of the task to stick around for a bit longer.

Next is to act. The rule in our household is that if something takes less than five minutes to do, you do it right away or at least right after your current task. That way “I will take out the trash” will become “I will take out the trash right after the fight with this dragon ends.” Don’t make these things a goal, like when you beat the dragon, because that can take ages. Just a clear set moment in the near furute, and then also do it.

Source: marriage :slight_smile:


I like to have dynamic stories because the crazier something is the harder it is to forget. If I had to clean out the fridge, I would image myself getting hit with all this stinky food in the fridge when I open it. I will add the smell of rotting food and the sight. Makes me want to throw up haha So when I see the fridge, this story will come up for sure and remind me to clean the fridge out.

Guys, thank you very much for your help. I think the suggestion that best fits my needs is that of having my peg list (max 10 items), or a specific dedicated memory palace populated with my daily tasks. From time to time (every X time and/ or every time I’m doing something and my mind is free to think to something else) I’ll check the list and I can remove, update or just take a look at my tasks. I’ll just have to make sure that I store only daily tasks, otherwise it would become a mess…

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As you are not asking how to remember, but you are asking how to trigger memory, I take it that you are asking how to remember that you remembered something.

Last thing, almost asleep, I tag one of my own memories onto the to do list. For example, I will need to remember to bring something or move something or fix something in the morning or before I get to my own to do list. I mentally go through the list and add a visual image of some object I will physically see in the morning, maybe a car key or doorknob. I will completely forget everything and fall asleep knowing that the moment I look at that key or doorknob every memory of the list of items will slam back into my conscious mind, while I am actually awake and probably able to do something about them.