Remembering telephone numbers

Hi, I’m relatively knew to the forum. I have a question about trying to remember things that are spoken at a normal rate. For example, I can memorise a telephone number if it is written down or spoken very slowly a few times but I have no chance at all of remembering it if it is spoken at a normal rate. In this circumstance I still have to write the number down. Does anyone have any suggestions/techniques on how to do this or is it just down to practice.


Hi as44
I have the same problem so will be interested in responses to your question.


Hi as44,

Yes…You should get a friend or 2 and have him/her state a phone # or series of #'s at normal pace.

Afterwards, play the phone #/series of #'s back to yourself ONCE and try to remember them.


You can record yourself speaking random 7 or 10 digit #'s and play it back once at normal speed.



Hi Stefos

Thanks. That’s a great idea for practicing. My problem is coding the numbers fast enough. I use the major system for the numbers and try to either link them or preferably use a memory palace. I just can’t do it fast enough. I was wondering whether there was a better way of doing things.


How many digits are in the phone numbers?

Have you tried holding the number in natural memory for a moment before trying to convert them to images?

If you want to practice for speed, try the numbers game on Memory League.

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Dear Josh

Thank you very much. I will certainly take your advice and practice using the numbers game.

Typically the telephone numbers that I would try to remember would be up to 11 digits long.

I have no issue remembering numbers up to 7 digits long using natural memory. If I try to use natural memory for part of a longer number and then, say, use the major system for the remaining 4 digits I find that I have forgotten what is in natural memory in favour of what I have encoded for the last 4 digits. I hope that makes sense.

I’m assuming that I just have to learn to use the major system faster but am concerned that trying to remember things given at a normal speaking rate will require a huge amount of practice.

Typically, with phone numbers, there is a part that you are more familiar with and a part that is less familiar.

In North America, anyway, phone numbers are generally made up of an area code, the prefix and the line code. E.g.: 999-555-1234. There might be other terminology. Also, in other countries numbers may be formatted differently.

Anyway, the message I am trying to give you is that when dealing with many phone numbers, some portions of the number, such as the area code and the local prefixes, can often be held in memory as familiar chunks without having to memorize them as strings of individual numbers.

If you identify the ones you are most likely to encounter, and even create images for them, you should be able to reduce your cognitive load significantly so that you can focus more attention on the remaining numbers.

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Dear Tarnation

Thanks, that’s really helpful. In the UK most numbers will begin with a ‘0’ which clearly does not need to be coded. For mobile numbers the second digit is usually ‘7’ so I guess part of the image stored in memory could be a mobile phone to indicate that. Landlines are more difficult as area codes are usually 3 or 4 digits following the ‘0’. I will try to create images for common ‘chunks’ in anticipation. This will not require a great deal of effort.

I think that together with some practice should do the trick. Thank you to everyone who has given me advice.