Need help with optimizing major system


I have been practicing with a 2-digit major system for close to 2 months and I am able to use it with decent accuracy. My best for 5 minute numbers is 136 (Memocamp profile) and ML numbers is 63. I can see how by just drilling more, i can probably get to 200 in some months. But there are a lot of areas where I feel lost and I could use some guidance and tips.

I have some specific questions where I will also share my thought process with examples so that you can correct me where I might be doing something wrong:

  1. How to handle images that don’t work well with directionality?
    One of the most common ways to store images is to store 2 per location and having them interact in some way that gives a clue to their order. I usually do this in terms of placing them left to right or top of each other, or where the first one is the subject and the other one is the object. So if 11 is Dad and 42 is Rain. I will imagine Rain falling on Dad for 4211, and Dad peeing for 1142. However, for some images, visualizing one side of the direction becomes very hard. For example, 01 is Suit. For 01XY where XY is a person, I can imagine a person wearing a suit. For XY01, i should technically imagine a suit being acted on by a person. However a person standing on his suit and crushing it is a dull image.
    Should I just brainstorm in such situations on how to make it more vivid till I get something right? Or are some images inherently bad to work with and it’s better to play with alternatives? Also, Are there other ideas to handle directionality?

  2. Is there some general recipe for making an image?
    Our images essentially belong to different categories: Person, Action, Object at the most simple level and we can do further fine grained classification as well. Has anyone considered a general strategy for how to handle interaction of each pair of these classes for your images? For example, if I have 43 (Rama, picture of a Bowman) to be paired with something, I can always imagine the bowman shooting a bow at the person or object (or sometimes shooting an object instead of an arrow). However, if i have 29 (Nip) to be paired with something, it is more specific. a 29 with a person will involving a person playing with their nipple in some way. That is not possible with an object and i usually have to rely on the object to guide this image. Depending on the object, i will have to brainstorm to bake an image. a 7629(Cash Nip) will mean a nipple being bombarded with currency notes. A 7829 (Cave nip) will mean entering into a cave into the location and then finding a lot of nipples. (because that’s what i do with cave). So my Bowman images production technique works well with all objects but my Nip technique is object dependent. I want to demonstrate how this whole process is really unstructured and very case sensitive. The lack of structure means (in my opinion) that this image will take more time to cook up and potentially be harder to recall.
    Is having to deal with these situations inevitable or am I complicating these images too much? Should being able to make a strong image with any possible category by following a single technique be a characteristic of a good image? Will it be helpful? And is it even a realistic thing to aim for?

  3. Total Distribution of Classes
    Does having a balance of classes help in some way? For example, having roughly half of your images as persons and half as objects? Or does it not make a difference? My Understanding is that the only reason it would not be preferred to have more items from a specific class is that it is difficult to pair with itself. But considering many of us successfully use 3 digit systems, I am pretty sure they will have more than 100 objects as well as persons.

  4. More Diverse Classes
    As a compliment to point 3, is it natural to assume that having more diversity in classes will make you go much faster because diverse images will have different features and the chance of an overlapping brain activation is lower? For example, apple and tomato (also red fruit) maybe more similar to each other than apple and watermelon (different size and color), but apple and a fantasy creature (say Gollum) will be totally different.
    If so, is it a good thing to aim for the images generally being as far apart as possible if we are to lay them in concept space? Is chunking better than this? By chunking, i mean having 10 fruits in your system, 10 pokemon in your system etc. so if i had to memorize Pikachu, i may not recall it is pikachu but i may recall a feature (that it is a pokemon) in my concept space and that may function as a primary index for me to search for Pikachu. I am clueless on what is a better approach.

  5. General practise vs learning balance
    With the little amount of practise I have had, it is inevitable to me that just trying to always do timed attempts develops just one part of my skill which involves optimizing working with what I know and reducing pauses. It is not magically going to improve my system or make my images much better because I am actually paying less attention the more I rush. Yet, i spend most of my time doing just that because it gives me a number to feel happy about. What are the different aspects of training that are important to grow different capabilities and what is a good balanced training strategy? I can think of speed drills (rushing to train your brain to process faster), accuracy drills (training your brain to make stronger images and improving your image linking), basics drills (going through your system to weed out and replace the bad images).

Thanks for your time in reading my post and I look forward to hear your ideas. I learned myself reading from the internet and don’t have friends to discuss memory techniques with so I am sure there are a few things I would not be doing efficiently right now. Therefore, I think it’s appropriate to give a detailed post of my thought process and ideas so we can learn from each other.

Hi. It seems my post is very long. Will it help if we take this down and I instead break it down into shorter questions one at a time?

Of course I encourage readers to selectively answer any question they like.

I don’t understand your interest in speed at all, unless you’re planning to compete. If that’s not the case, don’t even think about speed. Ditch the speed drills. You’re memorizing in order to learn and remember something. And part of that comes from entertaining and stimulating your brain with creative, highly imaginative images. If you’re rushing to get from A to Z, you’re cheating yourself out of making truly memorable journeys.

On the other hand, if you are planning to compete, then maybe my advice would be to separate your competition training from your other memory endeavors. Because if the only memory work you do is rushed and timed, I think you’re missing out on a lot of the joys of memory techniques.

This is a generalization, but I’d say that the only “bad” images are unmemorable ones. While some might question “suit,” I don’t think you’re trying hard enough. The suit could be wildly colored, burst into flames, glow in the dark. It could be a suit of armor. A space suit. If it’s covered in legal jargon, it could be a law suit. (Ha.) Sure, there may be more inherently active words you could have chosen instead of “suit,” but I absolutely think it could work if you’re open to being more imaginative with it.

Perhaps you’re overthinking this. It makes absolutely no difference. And others’ ideas about what works best for you make even less of a difference. Because the only thing that matters is what will be memorable to you.

I personally have a Major list from, roughly, 13-99 of objects and other things. By “other things,” I mean my “63” is “shame,” which has no image by itself, but it adapts very well to whatever I put around it. (If “shame” simply doesn’t work in a given context, it becomes a “chime,” but “shame” is always my first choice.) I also have a completely separate Major list of people from 00-99. Because sometimes a person makes a useful divider within a date or number range. And my go-to associations for 0-12 (other than 11) and a few other numbers are a personal blend of rhyming, shape, and other associations, just because they were the first things I thought of. And odds are that if they’re the first things I thought of when considering memorable images, they’ll be the first things I think of when recalling the associated information.

Finally, if you must have a substitute for “suit,” perhaps: zit, sty (as in pig sty), stew, Asta (a dog from the Thin Man movies of the 1940s), sod, seed, suede, Zod (a villain from Superman, although maybe that counts as a person), seat, sweet (as in candy), sweat (as in…well, sweat), etc., etc.