Recalling Anything [Memory Palace]
SUPERHUMAN SCORE: 8.13
Let’s face it. You probably won't ever have a perfect memory like Mike from the TV show Suits.
That guy’s a savant (and a fictional character).
But by building a Memory Palace, you can drastically improve your recall.
Memory Palace, also known as the Method of Loci, owes its inception to the Greek poet Simonides of Ceos.
After a tragic banquet hall collapse, where he narrowly escaped death, Simonides could recall who was at the party—based on where he’d last seen them.
This profound realization led to the creation of the Memory Palace, a method where location serves as the backbone for memory storage.
By converting abstract information into tangible imagery, this technique magnifies memory retention—making it indispensable for students, professionals, and lifelong learners.
Let’s dive in.
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Memory Palace is how a normal guy like Joshua Foer became the U.S. Memory Champion.
He wrote about it in his book Moonwalking with Einstein.
The TL;DR: A “photographic memory” is a skill you can learn.
You might not be competing in memory championships, but there are several practical use cases:
- Recalling talking points in a speech
- Remembering colleagues’ names
- Cramming for an exam
Here's the mental hack…
Our brains are wired to remember images better than words.
So, transform words into visual mnemonics in 4 steps…
Step 1. Choose a familiar setting: A home, school, or any cherished place.
Step 2. Map a route: Navigate through this location in your mind. Every distinct point becomes a “memory anchor.”
Step 3. Craft vivid imagery: Change data into memorable, sometimes exaggerated images. The quirkier, the better!
- Example: Say you want to remember bread on your shopping list. You might associate bread with your living room couch, which instead of cushions, you visualize made entirely of bread loaves. You can even picture sitting on it and feeling the softness of the bread. (Ridiculous? Yes. Helpful for recall? Also yes.)
Step 4. Position your imaginations: As you traverse your mental route, deposit these lively images at the anchors.
(Image Source: Oliver Uberti)
Just like a real palace needs upkeep, your mental construct benefits from regular mental walkthroughs, enhancing recall each time.
BRINGING IT HOME
The Google Effect. Digital Amnesia. Automation Bias.
All fancy terms to describe an overreliance on technology. The result? Our ability to remember is getting worse.
We’re losing things more often, forgetting names, and often can’t remember directions of the highways we’re driving on.
In our quest for new tactics, we often overlook the tools gifted to us by our ancestors.
The Memory Palace stands as a testament to the genius of the ancients and the incredible potential of our minds.
All systems go,
P.S. It was a special moment for me last week when Tim Ferriss reposted my article on Instagram, “Life hacks I know at 30 that I wish I knew at 20.” I hope you enjoy it, too.
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