Does the following predicament sound familiar to you? You are in an unfamiliar area and you’re late for an appointment. You stop to ask a passer-by for directions, and will have to rely on your memory, as you do not have a pen and paper to hand. The passer-by bombards you with a sequence of directions that you know you are going to forget unless you hear them repeated several times. But you don’t have time for this, and you decide to take a chance that you will remember the directions to get you to your destination. Of course, it is likely that you’ll need to stop again a couple of miles down the street and ask someone else for further directions.

However, by applying a simple memory technique you need only listen to a set of directions once. Let’s imagine you are lost in an American town and a sympathetic stranger gives you the following set of directions.

Example of a Set of Direction
1 TAKE THE SECOND LEFT INTO KING STREET
2 AT THE GARDEN CENTER TURN LEFT INTO FINSBURY STREET
3 AT THE END OF THIS BLOCK TURN RIGHT
4 FOLLOW THE STREET SIGNS TO THE ART GALLERY
5 AT THE SECOND SET OF STOP LIGHTS TURN LEFT
6 AT THE “NEEDLES RESTAURANT” TURN LEFT INTO RAM’S COURT
7 LOOK FOR THE RED BUILDING, NUMBER EIGHT

At first glance this may appear to be too much information to absorb all in one go. However, if you have been working through the exercises on this blog so far, you should already be feeling confident about your progress, particularly when it comes to memorizing a sequence of just seven pieces of information.

This is how I tackle memorizing directions: I regard them as a sequence of shopping items, say, and I use the Journey Method (Here is another detailed articles) to store them quickly. Naturally, you need to have your journey preprepared.

Best Method For Remembering Names And Faces

The Alphabet System For Memory Improvement

The Number Rhyme System To Memorize Numbers

As there are seven individual directions, you need a short journey of just seven stages, which you can use to store the information. For example, you could use a favourite vacation destination as your backdrop for the journey.

Example of a Journey through a Familiar Vacation Location.

1 HOTEL ENTRANCE
2 LOBBY
3 ELEVATORS
4 RESTAURANT RECEPTION
5 TABLE BY THE WINDOW
6 BALCONY
7 SWIMMING POOL

Exercise for Remembering Directions

Remember to always position yourself at the first stage of your journey before you start to memorize the instructions. Let’s take a look at how I would see the first few stages of the journey. In this case, I start by picturing myself at the entrance to the hotel.

FIRST STAGE                                      FIRST DIRECTION
Hotel entrance                                   Take the second left into King Street

There are no hard and fast rules as to what method you use to translate numbers and words into pictures. However, I tend to use Number Shapes whenever a single-digit number is involved, as in “second left”. So, to the left of the hotel entrance, I picture a swan (number shape for 2) flying over a startled king.

SECOND STAGE                                                     SECOND DIRECTION
Lobby At the Garden Center                                 turn left into Finsbury Street

The hotel lobby is furnished with an array of dramatic plants and flowers. To the left of the reception area I imagine a shark’s fin poking out of one of the plants. All that’s required here is an image to trigger the name of the street. A shark’s fin should be enough to remember the name Finsbury without having to concern myself with the second syllable, bury.

THIRD STAGE                                                    THIRD DIRECTION
Elevators At the                                                    end of this block turn rig

To remember to turn right I picture myself taking the righthand elevator.

FOURTH STAGE                                            FOURTH DIRECTION
Restaurant reception                                     Follow the street signs to the art gallery

At the restaurant front desk I imagine the headwaiter admiring a collection of oil paintings hanging on the wall above the desk.

Now over to you. Continue creating connections between the remaining two journey stages and two sets of directions, perhaps finishing with a scene that connects the swimming pool with the Number Shape for 8: a snowman. Quickly review your journey to make sure you have all seven scenes fixed in your head, then see if you can write down the directions in your notebook.