Read an Excerpt
How to Remember Anything
The Proven Total Memory Retention System
By Dean Vaughn
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2007 Dean Vaughn
All rights reserved.
A NUMBERED ROOM SYSTEM
As you read this chapter, place yourself in a square or rectangular room. If you are not, just visualize a very familiar room that is square or rectangular. Any room with four walls, four corners, a floor, and a ceiling will work. That's ten locations.
There are only ten single-digit numbers — zero through nine. I am going to permanently assign the ten single-digit numbers to the ten basic locations of any square or rectangular room.
Visualize yourself at the center of the room, and turn so that you are facing the front wall of the room. Any wall can be chosen to represent the front wall of the room.
As you look at the following illustration of the numbered room locations, look, also, at the corresponding room locations in the room in which you are now located or the room that you are visualizing.
As you look at the illustration, note that the four corners are odd numbers: 1, 3, 5, and 7. They start in the back left corner, and move clockwise to the corners around the room:
Back left corner is location 1
Front left corner is location 3
Front right corner is location 5
Back right corner is location 7
The four walls of the room are the even numbers: 2, 4, 6, and 8. They start at the left wall, and move clockwise to the walls around the room:
Left wall is location 2
Front wall is location 4
Right wall is location 6
Back wall is location 8
The ceiling of the room is location 0 and the floor is location 9.
I suggest that you put this book down and look around the room. Look at all the locations, starting with 0 at the ceiling, then 1, 2, 3, and so on. Then look at them in reverse order. Last, look at each location randomly and think of the number assigned to it.
You now have a memory bank for the numbers 0 through 9. Before continuing, please be certain you know the ten numbered room locations. For example, when you think of number 7, you should immediately think of the back right corner of the room. If you think of number 2, you should immediately think of the left wall.
You should be able to close your eyes and see each of the ten locations forward, backward, or randomly. You should also be able to think of any number between 0 and 9 and quickly see its room location in your mind.
I call this numbered room system a Cube, even though you will seldom be in a room that is actually a cube. This numbered Cube methodology has been used in thousands of academic and corporate applications with unprecedented success.
Let's suggest that you want to learn and remember information in which a numbered sequence is important. For example, let's use the first nine presidents of the United States. The information you want to remember could be any numbered sequence. Please follow the steps very carefully, even if you are not interested in the content. The content is not what is important. What's important is to know how the system works so you can use it in almost limitless practical applications.
I mentioned earlier that all of my memory techniques include only two objects at a time. One object represents what you already know and the other represents what you want to remember. Both must be objects or locations you can see. In this case, you already know the nine numbered locations in the Cube. We will not use the 0 location (ceiling) for this exercise. You can actually see or visualize each of the nine locations, so these are your knowns or what you already know.
What you want to remember is the name of the president for each of the nine numbered locations. That means the name of each president must be converted to something you can see. To do this, I'll change the name of each president to a soundalike picture, as follows:
President Sounds Like or Suggests
Washington washing machine
Adams (newspaper) ad
Jefferson chef (the object is based on sound, not on spelling)
Adams (newspaper) ad
Jackson (automobile) jack
Van Buren van
Be certain that you know the soundalike picture for each of the presidents before continuing.
The next step is to associate each soundalike picture with its numbered Cube location. This will automatically give you the numerical sequence of each president.
Look at location 1 (the back left corner). As you look at location 1, see a gigantic washing machine filling the entire corner! Imagine that the washing machine is running, the lid is open, and water and wet clothing is pouring out all over you!
Later, when you think of number 1 — the first president — think of location 1, the back left corner. See the washing machine and remember Washington.
Look at location 2 (the left wall). As you look at the left wall, see a gigantic ad — a newspaper ad! Later, when you think of number 2, think of location 2 — the left wall. See the ad and remember Adams, the second president.
Look at location 3 (the front left corner). See a chef standing in the corner! The chef reaches from the floor to the ceiling! If you were ever to see this in real life, how could you ever forget it? Later, when you think of number 3, think of location 3 — the front left corner. See the chef and remember Jefferson.
Look at location 4 — the front wall. As you look at the front wall, see medicine pouring out of it! It is liquid medicine and it is really messy. Imagine the medicine pouring out of the front wall all over you! Later, when you think of number 4, think of location 4 — the front wall. See the medicineand remember Madison.
Next, look at location 5 (the front right corner). See money bursting out of the front right corner of the room. Imagine that you may have all the money you can carry! Later, when you think of number 5, think of location 5 — the front right corner. See the money and remember Monroe.
Look at location 6 — the right wall — and see a gigantic ad on the wall! You also saw an ad at location 2 — the left wall. That's okay. Imagine a gigantic ad covering both the left wall and the right wall — locations 2 and 6! Later, when you think of number 6, think of location 6 — the right wall. See the ad and remember Adams (the son of the second president).
Look at location 7 — the back right corner. Turn and look over your right shoulder at the back right corner. See a gigantic jack (an automobile jack). It reaches from the floor to the ceiling! Later, when you think of number 7, think of location 7 — the back right corner. See the jack and remember Jackson.
Look at location 8 (the back wall). Imagine that, all of a sudden, a van bursts through the back wall of the room! See it! Hear the crash! Later, when you think of number 8, think of location 8 — the back wall. See the van and remember Van Buren.
Next, look at location 9 (the floor). See hair growing out of the floor! The entire floor has hair growing out of it! Imagine that you can feel the hair growing up over your ankles, up past your knees — the hair keeps growing out of the floor!
Later, when you think of number 9, think of location 9 — the floor. See the hair and remember Harrison.
Now that you have mentally stored these nine objects, see if you can recall them forward, backward, and randomly. Cover the Picture and President columns below. Look at each numbered location in sequence and randomly. Recall the picture associated with each numbered location and the president it represents. Uncover to confirm that you are correct.
How did you do? If you had difficulty remembering the object in any of the locations, it is likely because you did not see or imagine what was in that location as illogically as you should have. When you associate any object with any location, be certain to involve all of your senses, if possible. See it, feel it, hear it, and so forth. Exaggerate the size. Involve yourself in the association (see the object knocking you down, pouring over you, and so on). Be certain you know all nine numbered objects forward, backward, and randomly before continuing.
If you think of the name of a president, you should be able to immediately know his sequential number in office, (such as Jackson is a jack in location 7, so he is the seventh president).
You can quickly discover the power of your own mind through the use of organized memory techniques such as the numbered Cube methodology. Many have told me that they have enjoyed demonstrating the system to their family and friends.
You will use this system often for many different applications. I have used it in corporate, academic, and personal applications to learn and remember:
Schedules and things to do
An outline of an entire book
Sequential steps in the operation of equipment
An airline pilot checkoff list
The periodic table of the elements in chemistry
The books of the Bible
The Ten Commandments
Speeches and presentations without notes
How to conduct a business meeting without notes
Planets in their numbered sequence from the sun
Top ten lists
The use of the Cube methodology is almost limitless. It is fast, easy, dependable, and very practical.
HOW TO SET UP YOUR OWN PERMANENT ROOMS
Although I asked you to use the room in which you are now located for the earlier exercise, I recommend that you use your bedroom to permanently establish a room for the numbers zero through nine because it is likely to be one of your most familiar rooms. Call it your Units Cube or Units room because it includes the single-digit numbers, zero through nine.
You may ask, "How would the Cube method work if there are more than nine things to remember?" Just go (mentally) to another familiar room! If you use your bedroom for the numbers 0 through 9, you may want to use your living room or dining room, for example, for your next room. All that matters is that the room is very familiar to you. You must be able to see the ceiling, the corners, the walls, and the floor, even if you are not physically there.
Your next room is numbered just like your Units room. Start with 0 on the ceiling, then the back left corner (location 1), the left wall (location 2), and continue around the room, ending with the floor (location 9). The only difference is that there is a 1 in front of every number. Therefore, the ceiling is 10, the back left corner is 11, the left wall is 12, and ending with the floor, which is 19. This is called the 10s room because it includes the numbers 10 through 19.
You can easily expand the numbered Cube system to a 20s room (20 through 29), a 30s room (30 through 39), and so on. What makes this system so easy to learn and use is that there is nothing to memorize. If, for example, your kitchen is your 20s room and you need a number 29, just use your 29 location — the floor of your 20s room or the floor of your kitchen. Remember, location 9 is always the floor, so location 49 would be the floor of your 40s room.
How many rooms will you need? For most of your daily needs, two or three rooms are sufficient. If, however, you want to learn anything sequentially numbered that has thirty, fifty, one hundred items or more, such as the presidents of the United States or the periodic table of the elements in chemistry, you will need enough rooms to accommodate the required number. For example, you would need five rooms for the presidents and eleven rooms for the chemical elements.
You might say, "Hold it! I live in a one-room apartment!" That's okay! The rooms need not be in the same house or apartment. They need not even be in the same town.
None of my rooms are in my present residence. They are located miles away where I lived years ago. I can still clearly see there every corner, wall, floor, and ceiling of each room that I use. I can even see the furniture in all of the rooms just as if I had seen the rooms yesterday. That's because I used those rooms for the numbered Cube system when I lived there and I never stopped using them.
Although you may not need more rooms than you have at your present residence, if you do need more rooms, here are a few suggestions:
A place you used to live (but only if you can clearly see all of the locations within the room or rooms)
Office(s) where you work
A relative's home
A neighbor's home
A very familiar restaurant
To practice seeing the numbered room locations, you should prepare a set of flash cards (ten for each room). If you want a memory bank of twenty-nine numbered locations, you will need three rooms (each room ends at the floor with number 9). If you want exactly forty numbered locations, you will need five rooms (but you would use only the ceiling of the fifth room for number 40). Here is an easy way to view it, as well as an example of the various rooms you might use:
first room 0–9 bedroom
next room (10s room) 10–19 living room
next room (20s room) 20–29 den
next room (30s room) 30–39 kitchen
next room (40s room) 40–49 dining room
When you set up your permanent rooms, you should be able to see or imagine every numbered location within every room you are using. It is easier than you may think. For example, you can see your kitchen in your mind — even if you are not in your kitchen right now. You can see your refrigerator in a specific location within your kitchen. You know what color it is. You know if the door opens from the right to the left or from the left to the right. You even know what it looks like inside. But you are not there! That is how the numbered Cube system works. You can see each room location — each corner, every wall, the ceiling, and the floor as well as the furniture — because the room is very familiar to you.
I once gave a memory demonstration while traveling in the Republic of China. I did not use the room in which I was located. I used my familiar rooms half a world away. I remember thinking about that fact at the time. Think about it — even if you were on the moon, you could still see your kitchen and your refrigerator clearly in your mind, from a quarter of a million miles away!
MULTIPLE PROJECTS IN THE SAME ROOMS
One of the most frequently asked questions by those who are just learning the Cube system is, "How can I use my rooms for many different projects without confusing the data?" There are three reasons why this concern should not be a problem:
1. You will be familiar with the subject. By concentrating on that subject, you will find that other objects that you have stored in the same room will not even come to mind.
2. Although a memory system makes it possible to initially store information with relative ease, soon the need for the memory system will disappear and you will know the information you have stored for a given body of knowledge. For example, there are few students of chemistry who know the more than one hundred elements on the periodic table of the elements (name of the element, symbol, atomic number, atomic weight, group, block, and period). Only through a memory system could this information be stored with rela — tive ease and recalled with accuracy and speed. Through fre — quent use of the memory system, the information becomes permanent knowledge without a conscious use of the system. This system makes it possible to initially store information that may otherwise be very difficult to learn in any reasonable amount of time.
3. If you are working on more than one project at a time, you may use different rooms to eliminate any possible confusion. Also, in the chapters that follow, you will find that there are additional systems that may be used.
Excerpted from How to Remember Anything by Dean Vaughn. Copyright © 2007 Dean Vaughn. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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