The famous chess player Harry Pillsbury was almost as well known for his memory as for his skill at chess. He was once challenged by two professors to memorize up to thirty words or phrases, read to him only once. Pillsbury repeated them in correct sequence, and then in reverse order. He also knew them the following day. This garnered quite a bit of publicity for Pillsbury, yet the feat is fairly easy to accomplish—if you apply the Link and the Substitute Word systems of memory.

Now, the words and phrases that were read to Pillsbury were not quite so easy to grasp as a list of everyday items or the states of the union. They were: antiphlogistine, periosteum, takadiastase, plasmon, threlkeld, streptococcus, staphylococcus, micrococcus, plasmodium, Mississippi, freiheit, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, athletics, no war, Etchenberg, American, Russian, philosophy, Piet Potgelter’s Rost, salmagundi, oomisillecootsi, Schlechter’s Nek, Manyinzama, theosophy, catechism, Madjescomalops.

how to memorize shopping lists

You can remember them all, in sequence, by applying the two systems you’ve already learned—the Link and the Substitute Word. Auntie flog a stein would remind you of antiphlogistine. Associate that silly picture to, perhaps, pear eat a steam (periosteum). You might see your auntie (or any little old lad —whatever auntie conjures up in your mind) jogging a (beer) stein as she eats a gigantic pear that’s steaming hot. Try to see that picture.

Pear eat a steam to, perhaps, tack a dais daze. A gigantic pear that’s eating a steam (radiator) is tacking up a dais (platform); the pear is in a daze as he does it. For the next association you might see a plastic man (plasmon) tacking up a dais.

Now, plastic man to thrill cold (threlkeld), to strap to cock (rooster) and ass (donkey), to staff ill of carcass, to micro cock ass, to place my dime, to Mrs. sip, to fry height, to fill a dell for ya (or Philadelphia brand cream cheese), to sin sin at tea, to people performing athletics, to no war, to etchin’ (ice)berg, to a merry can, to Russian roulette, to fill a sofa, to pie et (ate) pot (of) gal tears rust, to sell my gun D, to ooh, my silly coat see, to sh, let us neck, to many in summer, to tea owes a fee, to cat kiss ’im, to Madge’s comb elopes.

This may seem like a lot of work to you. Well, it will certainly take more time and effort than, say, remembering twenty seven simple items. But just think of how much work it would be to memorize twenty-seven words like this without a system. Not only would that require an enormous amount of time and effort, but you’d probably never accomplish it. Forming Substitute Words, phrases, or thoughts, and Linking, on the other hand, is fun; it forces you to use your imagination and to concentrate; and above all—it works!.

Whatever any Substitute phrase conjures up in your mind is what you should use for the picture. For sell my gun D, you might see yourself selling your gun to a gigantic letter D. (In another article, you’ll learn how letters of the alphabet can themselves be pictured, concretely and easily.) You might have thought of sailor my gun die—a sailor takes your (my) gun and kills himself with it. Whatever you think of and see will work for you.

Take a few moments to see if you can remember all the words listed above. If Pillsbury could do it, so can you! You may be surprised at the facility with which you can do it.

how to memorize appointments

Linking difficult words is like swinging two bats to help you swing one better. It isn’t often necessary to remember words like that. But the idea of the Link can, of course, be wonderfully practical. Later on, we’ll show you how to remember specific weekly appointments, by day and hour. For now, if you need to remember simple errands and appointments during most normal days, you can use a simple Link; usually no Substitute Words are necessary.

Assume it is important that you remember to pick up a lamp you ordered. You also must remember to buy a package of typing paper. Start a Link; associate lamp to paper. Perhaps you see yourself putting a lighted lamp, instead of paper, into your typewriter. Or, a gigantic sheet of paper is on your bedside table, you pull a string—and it lights like a lamp. Select one of these pictures, or one you thought of yourself, and see it in your mind.

You don’t want to forget to pick up your suit at the cleaners. Continue the Link; perhaps you’re wearing sheets of typing paper instead of a suit.

You promised to call about arranging for swimming lessons for your child. See a suit, with nobody in it, swimming or diving into a pool.

For days, you’ve been meaning to buy some lightbulbs. Picture gigantic lightbulbs swimming.

You must remember to visit a friend at the hospital. Picture yourself putting your friend, instead of a lightbulb, into a socket.

You want to pick up a roll of stamps before the post office closes. Picture your sick friend lying on (and sticking to) a gigantic stamp instead of a hospital bed. Or you’re licking your friend and sticking him on an envelope.

If you’ve actually visualized the silly pictures, you’ll remember the things you must do. Start with lamp—that should remind you of the next chore or errand, and so on. When applying this idea practically, you’d form your Link the night before. Then, in the morning, you’d simply go over that Link while getting dressed or having breakfast.

memorizing words

If you think of something else you want to accomplish that day, tack it on to the end of your Link. It’s important to go over your Link before you leave, because thinking of the chores will remind you to take whatever you need from your home in order to accomplish the errand. For example, if you need a receipt in order to get your suit from the cleaners, thinking of the suit will remind you to go to your desk and get the receipt.

During the day, go over your Link every once in a while—or while you’re walking, eating, whatever. Anytime you think of an errand that you have not yet done, you’ll know it; simply go and do it. As a final check, go over the Link before you prepare to go home.

This practical use of the Link will save you plenty of time and aggravation. The worst that can happen is that it won’t work completely and you’ll forget an errand. Well, you haven’t much to lose—you’ve been doing that all your life!

Exactly the same idea can be applied to remembering a shopping list. Granted, remembering a shopping list is not the most important thing in the world. But people who make out a shopping list on a piece of paper often either forget to take it with them, or forget to look at it until they get home again.

Simply Link the items you want to purchase. Be sure to make the pictures ridiculous— you’re peeling an orange and there’s a container of milk (or a cow) inside it; you’re milking a cow and slices of bread, instead of milk, come out, etc. Once inside the
supermarket, just go over your Link every once in a while. If you do this, you won’t forget any items.