New here: Looking for some advice on how to get started...

Hi all.

So a little introduction, I’m nearly 33 and I’m a teacher. I’ve never had a great memory, especially with names. But recently… to be honest its really been worrying me, I can’t remember simple stuff that most people can remember. One thing that really stuck with me… I was on a holiday in South America, and I was on a tour, the tour-guide was talking about some pretty interesting stuff, and he said a few names… Now I was already worried about my memory at this point, and I’d been trying to make a note of actively TRYING to remember stuff. Anyway at the end of the tour the tour guide did a quick quiz, and one of the things he asked was the three names he’d mentioned.

Now I’d say a good 70% plus of the people on the tour could pull these names from their memory banks… but I had no idea… So me, who was PURPOSELY trying to remember these names, was still failing to retain information that most people apparently could without trying…

So I really want to try to get better at this, and I know there are techniques that can help. I’m totally new here, so I guess I’m just looking for some guidance, the sort of paths others have taken, the techniques they use, maybe the software etc etc.

I’m really looking for practical real world stuff. I don’t want to memorise pi to the billionth digit. For example, I’m currently studying for a teaching exam, and I often study for hours but honestly if I ask myself, “What have I learned?”… its not easy to answer, I often feel like my mind is like sand slipping through someones fingers.

So yea! That’s my brief story, I’m really hoping I can get better at this. I’ve got some basic knowledge about mnemonic devices and stuff, but I’m really a total newbie. Thanks for all the help!



I think maybe you might be underestimating yourself. A teacher is a highly-respected professional.

Maybe if your tour guide had asked three questions (or 33 questions) about the things that interest you, you might have done better.

IMHO, my “natural” memory works best if I’m interested in something. I hated Chemistry at school and uni, so nothing stuck.

Use Anki for life-critical stuff - use palaces for amusement or non-critical stuff.

Alex Mullen uses Anki for Spaced Repetition - so it can’t be all that bad:

The following link says: Dominic O’Brien uses a spaced repetition system based on review periods of 2 hours, 1 day, 1 week, 1 month and 3 months.

The value of pi is simply a list of numbers in sequence. Palaces seem to be ideal for lists.

But if you use a palace for your shopping list - it’s only in YOUR head. If you’re sharing with one or more other people who also use palaces, then you all need to go shopping together to ensure that nothing is missed.

But if you keep a spiral-bound book in the kitchen, everybody can add stuff when something is nearly finished. (Don’t tear out old pages - you can look in previous pages for inspiration.)

You won’t have that problem with Anki. You can SEE yourself progressing very rapidly with easy stuff - but maybe a bit slower with more difficult stuff. But you KNOW that you are further ahead today than you were a few days ago.

The one thing you can’t do in Anki is memorize text IN SEQUENCE. But there are “add-ons” written by users to compensate for that. The Reddit forum is full of medics (Alex Mullen is a medic). They write most of the add-ons that allow you to memorize GROUPS of items (such as all the symptoms for one illness).

Anyway, in industry, most people don’t memorize anything. It’s too dangerous. They follow procedures. (Think of Gene Kranz in Apollo 13 movie, or Boeing 737 MAX.) I used Anki for random bits and pieces which would ALWAYS be true. Procedures can be downloaded instantly.

I have the dekstop and the mobile Anki. It’s my notebook - permanently open. Except that with a real notebook - or a palace, you can’t review it SELECTIVELY, it’s all-or-nothing.



If you haven’t seen it yet, there is a how to learn memory techniques page that includes a free ebook and list of FAQs.

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A good place to start is the set of tutorials here:

The tutorial on Method of Loci is the clearest that I’ve seen. It has obviously been written by a professional communicator. I understood it without needing to look at other tutorials to fill in gaps.