Lean / Agile Memory Systems

Hi Everyone,

I feel like many memory projects are very “batchy”. I mean there is a long (throughput) time between starting and having something memorized. It’s like a mini-project. For example, when I’m memorizing a book, I decide which facts per chapter, select a memory palace, plan the places, write down the images, then visualize it, etc. Is it clear what I am talking about with respect to “batchy”?

What I would like is to find a way of using memory systems where I don’t need to know in advance, and don’t need to plan. This way, if life gets in the way or something and interrupts the project, at least I will have memorized something. Yet, I still have some kind of organization.

I recall that Alex Mullen while adapting his techniques for university he did a kind of “memory town” where he would just stick subject matter as it came up.

Does anyone have good ideas on this?

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@moo, you have a very interesting insight by the name of your topic. I’ve taught Agile classes and I can see where some memory projects are like that. It concerned me.

I started on a quest to memorize Bible passages. Jumping in and following the advice of others left me with little success. The project changed scope and I encountered much difficulty. Then I created a great complete all-in-one universal system. That too failed, just like having too much paperwork because it was bloated and hard to keep in mind.

So, in an Agile fashion, I started building up my memory system iteratively with lots of feedback of tests for several sessions of scriptures at a time. I learned and the system built up organically from the ground up. The top-down type of systems take a while to organize and apply to a book when it may not be the best type of system. But I listened “to the customer” and the text gave me the requirements. I managed them in short sprints and that has let me understand many more aspects of good mnemonics.

But just like Agile, you need some basic principles to follow and not so much of a plan. One of the Agile values in the manifesto reads “Working software over comprehensive documentation” and seems to be your goal which in other words would be to have “memorized stuff over lots of loci.”

I think I’ll chew on this for awhile. But I’ve found much benefit from doing the bottom-up approach of iterative system development as opposed to the top-down approach of applying a large mnemonic methodology.

If you want to review my thinking from a few months ago you can read my post on my System 7711. I’m still learning so if you’d like to offer a text to work on, maybe we could come up with some Agile mnemonic principles!


@thinkaboutthebible yes. Exactly this. How to avoid making a big plan and get moving? I’d love to hear what ideas you have.

One thing I’ve done is just reuse memory palaces a ton. The first palace that I used to memorize PAO, I’ve since added a book and the periodic table. It seems to work with the funny side effect that all three topics come to mind. For example 06, Harley Quinn, Carbon, and “Facts” (vs. concepts or procedures) all come to mind if any of the others come.

Another idea is memory palaces per letter (26) and just put random concepts to be memorized in a corresponding letter palace.

About organization, I do love grouping a topic (or chapter) within a room, b/c if I can’t recall what exactly I want to remember, but only a vague sense then I can mentally got to that room and find the idea. Maybe there is a minimal amount of layout needed.

Anyways, probably this idea is clear now. I’d love to hear what other people think. :slight_smile:

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@moo, I’m tending towards reuse as the main purpose of a system where we don’t have to relearn a sequence of locations or design a new system for a memory. I thought that bottom-up design was going to generate more ideas, but it still seems to be important to spend quite a bit of time in design which would not be our target. But the one technique that I’ve been using that seems to create tons of useful storage locations and is based on reuse is the template.

I use a terrain or locational template made up of 10 subject-actions. The template rules are based on compass directions of N, NE, E, SE, etc. including floor and ceiling (similar to SEM cube). I have an US internal and another for external to US I’m playing with. For the internal, I use Sarah Palin in Alaska hunting in the snow. The north area of the room I’m in merges with a snowy scene and Sarah is ready to hunt there and share her memory image with what I want.

What I like about the use of the template is that each room I am in, becomes a different scene but my characters get stronger as I use them. I never run out of space.

Templates can be subject, item, or terrain based. A set number of people or superheros could represent a set of traits or concepts that need to be applied to a person, such as name, address, children, phone, etc. A group of items could represent important points that need to be applied to other items such as meeting requirements or qualifications, or the different levels of scores or results on tests.

If you have something that needs memorizing, I’ll try and give you a template to see if it works for you.

Edit: I use the parts of a monument for a history template to remember important people and events in my glossary online.

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Hi… great post! Thanks for sharing this with us…

Would you please give us more examples how you use templates for memorizing various topics??..

For example: US constitution or Periodic table or math formulas…


@moo, @nhtofa I think I’ll start a new topic for this because it’s about template creation and not just about a general way to accelerate memory system use.
See: Templated pegs

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I think I figured out something that really makes this faster.

Deciding to be okay with memorizing things wrong, and that you’ll fix them later if need be lets you move faster.

I was approaching memory like it’s writing on nice stationary with pen. But it’s review that cements things. So now, I’m just acting like it’s sketching on paper with pencil.

This approach let’s me “just get started” without trying to lay everything out perfectly and triple verify all the info first.

@moo, I have changed images several times for many of my palaces and I don’t recommend it myself even though it gets you going faster. The “wax tablets” aren’t completely smooth the second time around and I tended to fall back on the original images. I had to abandon my review sessions until both sets dissipated and then review just the new set.