So far so good! I’ve only been experimenting for 8 days now, as I began on Jan 1, so it’s too early for conclusions. I am doing it more or less as described in the post above. I selected a hotel in Uzbekistan as the stage for January 2013. I’m not gonna use different hotels for the separate weeks, which would be redundant.
For each day I insert some images in a certain area of the hotel creating a scene that brings up associations with the main events of the day. I also insert images for the day and the date, using different images for the different Mondays (eg a moon for the first Monday and MM’s for the second; a tank for the first Tuesday and a drum for the second). I’m basically still trying different things out along the way.
The biggest difficulty thus far is to restrict myself in the number of images I insert. I tend to get overexcited and insert many images, which would make it hard to manage after a while. It is fun to come up with simple images that capture the important things.
Every evening before falling asleep I walk through the scene of the day, trying to imprint it as thoroughly as possible. Most mornings I meditate for about 15 minutes. I now start my meditation by reviewing the images in the scene I created the day before. Further reviewing happens spontaneously throughout the day for now. I don’t really need a schedule for reviewing yet.
It is the 500 days landmark today in this process of remembering every day that passes and it is still going strong.
In fact, I have added memory tags to my mental calendar for some of the earlier days. Which has led me to introduce a two-year window for my review of past tags as an experiment. I’m hoping that as days move outside the two-year window, they will be entrenched and so not lost if I stop reviewing them.
I really got inspired and will probably start doing this myself. What I already do is add special occasions to a personal deck in a flashcard program so that I review and remember those at least, but to also remember everyday life is certainly even cooler. Especially to be able to tell what you did at any given date.
I recently started a thread about this idea (Memorizing Your Life Story / Daily Diary (inspiration - DoubleHelix)) and was linked to this thread here. I think one of the many impressive things is how Lembran Sar remembers to randomly pop in here every few months to add more to the discussion. I think that’s an amazing testament to the system, and already a somewhat superhuman feat.
Mr. Sar – I’ve started reading your blog now, and it’s quite something.
I am now 600 days into this process of remembering every day that passes.
It is still going well, without a day lost, but I have had to make a radical overhaul to the process of reviewing the images pinned to my mental calendar as memory tags.
As mentioned previously, I was passing a two-day window over every week of the past two-year period - including months before I began this process, where I had recovered some memories and added memory tags. Today being Thursday, I would recall the tags for every Wednesday and Thursday of the past two years (with some blanks for the period before I began consciously adding memory tags on 17 December 2011).
These reviews were taking too long and I simply burned out just over a month ago - 5 July 2013. I just couldn’t focus on running through so many days. It was becoming increasingly difficult, particularly as sometimes I didn’t complete the review and had to use a three-day window the next day over the weeks I had missed.
The process I have been following since then has been scaled back. I use a two-day window for the past 6 months. So today being 8 August, I thought back to 8 February (a Friday) and stepped back to 6 February (Wednesday) and then called up the images for every Wednesday and Thursday from then onwards until a month ago. From 8 July, I reviewed the images for every day until yesterday. That is my morning review. Before going to sleep, I will review the past month again and add the image for today at the end.
At some point during the day, I do a one-day-per-month review of the period from January 2011. Today is 8 August, so I will recall the images for the 8th of every month to the present day (for the months before I began this process, I may have only a generalised image for the month, rather than for the specific day). That’s 32 images, so much more manageable.
I’ve had a few elusive images, but have found them all eventually. I’m hopeful that associations between days a month apart will begin to form and help me to remember them.
I’m not yet confident that I can remember past days without the regular reviews, as people with hyperthymesia appear to do. I sometimes have trouble remembering an image I have not thought of for a month, so fear they will fade to nothing without reviews.
As throughout this process, the days that give me most trouble are generally the most recent. Remembering the image I chose for Monday this week is harder than remembering the image for 8 August 2012 (watching the Olympic Games on a big screen in a park). I remember Monday vividly, but keep forgetting the particular image I had chosen for the memory tag, which is why I find the full review of the past month so necessary.
The cut-down reviews are easy to fit into my day and have returned this process to being a pleasure, when it was becoming a burden. The insight it gives me continues to make it worthwhile. It also serves a functional purpose as I have been incorporating information I want to remember into the memory tags, such as people’s names and key details about places I’ve visited.
I’ve written recently on my blog about experimenting with the associations between images for consecutive days. Sometimes these arise as a natural consequence of life. For example, I visited the town where my bike was stored on 15 June, brought my bike home on 16 June and went for a long bike ride on 17 June. If I have trouble remembering any one of those days, the surrounding days remind me of my bike and so the image.
This is so useful, I am sometimes adding in details retrospectively. As an example, on 27 July I went on a group run in a park. On 28 July I went out for lunch with my parents. There was no association between the images, but on the run I ran past a lake and the restaurant we ate at the next day was also by a lake. So I’ve added the lakes to the images.
It is great to see the discussion here and on the other thread and read about other approaches.
I didn’t know how long I would continue this process when I began at the end of 2011. There will come other crunch times as the days mount up and I still fear that an elusive image will be lost for good, but for now the review process has become easy to fit into my routine once more and it feels less like an experiment and more like something I just do.
Anyway, have any advice for people starting out? Ex. what to you makes a memorable image, any refinements you would consider if you started over, or any particular difficulties (outside of how much to review & the occasional mis-remembered name)?
These are interesting questions. I’ve written a lot about the process I’ve been following and how this has changed over time on my blog and tagged the entries with How I remember.
The way I began is very different to what I do now and I wonder whether the learning process is as important as using the more refined methods I’ve alighted upon, which will not doubt change as the days, months and years pile up.
Maybe it is necessary for others wanting to do the same to go through this progression. Maybe not.
I suppose my advice to others would be do what works for you and be prepared to adapt. If my experiences help, then I’d be interested to hear it.
Some people have commented here and on your thread about using other memorisation methods, which I don’t think would work for me, so each to their own. I’d be interested to hear how those work and adapt over time.
I like actual images - like a photograph of the event or a sequence of images - and place it on a mental calendar. An image can ecapuslate a great deal. As I mentioned above with the story of the lakes, I’ve started to engineer such associations retrospectively. That is also on my blog here: http://lembransation.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/the-lakes.html
It is at the end of the day when I construct the image, after running through the past month once more. I look for something that contains one or more key things that I want to remember and will help trigger my recollection of the day as a whole and, when possible, will link with surrounding days.
Yesterday I had a business meeting in the morning and met a friend in the afternoon. So I have two images - and the fact there are two is something I also also remember - I have a sense of incompleteness if I remember only one. In the first case, I am using mnemonic to remember the persons actual name and I am trying to capture her face, visualising where we were sitting. With my friend, we visited various places, so my image is sitting having a drink outside a bar, with the echo of the walk through the park to reach it. In the image, I am checking the time and I am conscious we need to leave if we are to catch a movie (one of the things I choose to remember is when I saw a particular movie). Recalling either of the images brings up the specifics as well as more generally reminds me of the day, how I travelled from one situation to the other, what I thought of the film, what we did afterwards etc.
I am repeatedly amazed at how powerful this is. I set my journal aside when I began this process as I decided not to write things down to help me remember. Now I’ve been catching up with it. I’m currently writing the entries for August 2012, recalling what I was doing and my reflections a year ago, day by day, much as if I was writing it at the time.
This is amazing! I can’t fathom remembering every single day for the past 2 years. I just recently managed to memorize my 0-99 Major System words and was feeling cocky about it.
I can barely remember what happened last week, and after that it’s basically gone. I remember highlights only. I think this is normal for most people. But when I started thinking about it, the whole idea is really frightening. If a person can’t remember what they said, did, or were thinking about just a week or a month ago, how is it possible to make decisions? Do we just sort of plod along, with a general idea of what we are trying to accomplish, maybe focusing on one thing or the other and retaining that but losing everything else?
When I talk to people about this they tend to agree but seem to think there’s nothing one can do about it.
I have started ‘logging’ into Evernote what I do and what happened every day. I try to do it daily but sometimes get too busy. I can remember pretty much everything for the previous 2-3 days with the 3rd day being hazy. I have been doing this for about 2 months. It’s pretty tedious and my girlfriend doesn’t think much of it. I did find a much faster way, I bought Dragon Naturally Speaking and put on a headset and just blab away ignoring whether or not it understood exactly what i said.
Maybe if I’m ever able to get through the Major System, PAO, and whatever lays beyond that, I will try actually remembering my days along with logging. Then if I lose a day or think I have it wrong I can look back and check.
Yes, that Evernote software’s pretty nice. I have some 2200 personal notes in there as well (not all diary ones). Anyway, I pretty much just agree – doing the same thing wrt on-paper logging, still not quite made it to starting the daily memorization project (have a few other memorization projects on the go).
Anyway, just as a thought experiment, I wonder what changes could be made to Evernote to make it more useful for memory reintegration, rather than just dumping things there and forgetting about them. Maybe some kind of Anki-like system for a notebook that makes you do review of each note with increasing intervals? I should probably start a different thread, though I wonder how many or few Evernote users there are around.
I’d be interested to find out if writing things down is a help or a hinderance to those trying this approach.
I made a decision at the outset not to write things down because I thought that record might replace my memory rather than enhance it. Although I’ve struggled a few times to recall the images I have pinned to my mental calendar as memory tags for each day, I’ve not lost one. It can sometimes take hours to actually recover the image by calling up surrounding days - giving up seeking in the end so my subconscious throws it up works when all else fails. So far, they have always been found.
As I’ve written on my blog, I get a buzz when I finally do recall an elusive image and so I’ve tried not to worry when they are elusive. Instead, I anticipate that a buzz will be coming when it finally emerges from the gloom.
My theory is that having the option of consulting a written record would somehow make me complacent and that resorting to the record would not strengthen my recall skills, but weaken them.
That said, I am now catching up with my diary, just in case this system does finally fall down. However, the daily entries I am writing when I can fit this in are for 12 months ago.
I believe that you are absolutely correct. Using a written log is a crutch. If your intention is to perfect a method of recalling each day as perfectly as possible using your mind alone, writing it down kind of defeats the purpose. Like saying you are going to live off the land in the wilderness for a week but then when things don’t go your way just walking up to the camera crew to get a drink of water and a Snickers.
But if you look at it from the standpoint of an experiment than that would be very interesting. They say that the mind goes back and changes memories. If so you would be able to locate those changes, maybe see if they are related to the amount of time that is passed or the emotional intensity of the memory. Eventually you could incorporate that knowledge into your method to try and prevent the brain from rewriting history.
I think at this point since you have spent so much time on your method there is less danger of of losing your skill. Maybe you could alternate months when you write down as much as you can, and other months when you write down nothing. This would force you to retain your skill. If memories had been altered you would know. If there was a pattern to changing memories you would still be able to recognize it.
I wasn’t sure how long this experiment would go on for, but today I begin my third year of this process of remembering every day that passes.
I am still following the technique I described on the post above at 600 days into the process.
I find many positives in being able to remember every day of the past two years and from running through my daily reviews of a selection of past days each morning and night. This has been particularly true for the past 14 months, during which a relative becoming sick and then passed away. I am grateful that the memories of the days spent together have not become one indistinguishable mass: I remember when and where we went out for a family breakfast or lunch, for example, at least during this period.
There are also interesting and changing perspectives on time. I remember the events of the day when I began this process on 17 December 2011. That day has changed from being today, to yesterday to now two years ago.
It is quite amazing to know where I was and what I was doing on this date two years ago, which will be the case throughout the next year. I find it well worth the effort - and now not so much an effort as part of what I do.
I just want to comment that I find this very awe-inspiring. Just reading about it makes me have this feeling of nostalgia. This is probably the longest memory project I’ve read about, and it’s very impressive.
If you could Lembran, could you describe your technique? I looked at posts on your blog but could not find any that describe it. If you could point me in the right direction or describe how you memorize, it would be beneficial. Do you use a peg system? Memory palaces? Turn each day/month/year into a number and match that numbers image with what happened?
I have a link in the short “about me” description in the right-hand column of the blog, linking to my current technique for refreshing the images I have pinned to my mental calendar. This has changed over time and will no doubt continue to evolve as the days pile up.
At the moment it is the same as described in my posting here marking 600 days of the experiment.
Central to what I do is to visualise a calendar, like the month-to-view calendar on my computer, and pin an image to each day, generally choosing the image as I lay down to sleep. Sometimes during the day I’ll think, “I want to remember this moment forever” and that is the image I capture.
So images are a moment in time. I try to have an image that captures as many elements of information as possible. I also find it helps my remembering process if a theme emerges for a week or there are links between consecutive days. Some days, I’ll have more than one image and I generally find when I think of the day I can remember how many images are attached to it.
Sometimes the image can highlight something quite arbitrary, particularly if there is not much difference between days. So the image I have for 13 March 2012 is sitting in a café with three colleages from work for lunch. The image for the following day is sitting in a different café with my wife for lunch. To not forget the images I find I have to refresh them at intervals. As these are now more than 6 months ago, I will only consciously think of them again once a month. Sometimes that will be for just an instant. Sometimes I’ll linger more to remember the moment - in these cases, what we were eating, the mood, what we talked about, and sometimes think about other things that happened the same day.
I can’t remember everything about the day from this starting point, so anything I want to be sure to remember I put in the image. Some days are just memorable and the image can trigger recall of many details. Other days would disappear into the mush of routine, if it were not for the fact that I had the image to somehow distinguish it.
Choosing what to remember is part of the fun of the process for me. For example, I have been bad at remembering names, so now I often include people’s names in the images (just by voicing their name and picturing their face) and the names of friend’s children, even those I rarely see. More about that here.
I understand the refreshing, spaced repetition portion of your method, and the forming of the images. What I do not yet have a grasp of, and seems arbitrary is the visualization of a calendar. Wouldn’t the months blend into each other? Or do you have a certain theme for each month, and year? Do you make the first image of each month especially imaginative and memorable, and then sort of orient every single image in that month in relation to that first one? Sort of like a peg system where you would have sitting in a cafe on number 1, then on number two, but still within sight of that cafe, meeting this great new person in a apartment? Like X is in relation to Y? Or do you connect the for example 21st day in relation to all the other 21st days of previous months?
I do literally visualise a month-per-view calendar with the images pinned to the days of it. In fact, I see these laid out in a line of pages before the year in large flaming numbers to which they relate.
Over time, I have developed pronounced spatial awareness of this calendar and feel like I am stepping from one day to the other.
Today being 22nd December, I’ve reviewed the 22nd of each month from January 2011 - which is from before I began this process, but I find it an interesting part of my routine to try to fill in blanks and the marked contrast between what I can remember before and after starting this process on 17 December 2011 motivates me to continue.
I simply remember that 1st January 2011 was a Saturday and that starts me off. I feel like I’m on the penultimate day on the first line of the calendar page closest to the flaming number 2011. 22nd January was three weeks later (21 days), so three short steps backwards, staying on the Saturday. 22nd February 2011 will be three days later in the following month, so Sunday, Monday, Tuesday. I’m now standing on the February page, one column in, towards the back of the page.
As 2011 wasn’t a leap year, I know 22nd March was the same day of the week, same position, but further from the 2011 numbers.
March has 31 days, so on the next calendar page, I mover right three spaces, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, to 22 April. Then two days to Sunday 22 May 2011. And so on, until Thursday 22 December 2011 - a day I have a definite image for, which confirms it was a Thursday and I haven’t slipped up.
For the days since I began this process of remembering every day that passes, the image will generally come to me immediately, simply by voicing the date in my mind and the spatial awareness. For the earlier days, there will generally be a blank, so I’ll just think of something in that month I can remember.
From Thursday 22nd December 2011 it is a big step forward as the drum with all these pages on rotates so the numbers 2012 appear, and I step onto the page closest to them, three days to the right, putting me on Sunday 22 January 2012. Again, the familiar image on that date confirms I am in the right place.
If I just pick a date at random, say 19th June 2012, and want to remember where I was and what I was doing, it may take a little time to orientate myself. I don’t remember the image for that date immediately, so scan out along adjacent days. I do have a strong image pinned to 20th June 2012. The image for 19th June isn’t connected to it thematically at all in this example, but the spatial connection is enough for me to remember the image.
If I have trouble remembering an image, I might have to run through the whole month to trigger the recall. If I’m doing the day-a-month review and I’m really struggling to remember an image, I’ll come back later to find it. So far, this has not failed me. I’ve learned patience is a virtue when it comes to remembering memory tags.
As I say, I have a very strong sense of the spatial layout of the calendar, which helps me navigate it, but this is something that has developed over time. Initially, I was more picturing the calendar and sticking pins in it - now I feel like I am walking over it. I wrote a blog about this transition in perspective on 21 January 2013, when I found I could not only mentally walk around the calendar, but drop into the images to relive the moment. In fact, my memory tag for that date is writing the blog entry - I close my eyes and feel I am sitting on the sofa, with my feet up, laptop on my lap and can look around the room…
In the above description of the calendar, I am now scratching the description of the drum.
With the arrival of 2014 and the turn of the drum, I found it too disorientating. So I’ve changed the technique just to have the years side by side. One thing I’ve learned is that familiarity and repetition in the review process is a great benefit.