A key to memorization is to create meaningful groups that simplify the material. Let’s say you wanted to remember four plants that help ward off vampires—garlic, rose, hawthorn, and mustard. The first letters abbreviate to GRHM, so all you need to do is remember the image of a GRAHAM cracker. (Retrieve your cracker from the kitchen table of your memory palace, dust off the vowels, and you’re good to go.)

It’s much easier to remember numbers by associating them with memorable events. The year 1965 might be when one of your relatives was born, for example. Or you can associate numbers with a numerical system that you’re familiar with. For example, 11.0 seconds is a good running time for the 100 meter dash. Or 75 might be the number of knitting stitches cast onto a needle for the ski hats you like to make. Personally, I like to associate numbers with the feelings of when I was or will be at a given age. The number 18 is an easy one—that’s when I went out into the world. By age 104, I will be an old but happy great-granny!

Many disciplines use memorable sentences to help students memorize concepts; the first letter of each word in the sentence is also the first letter of each word in a list that needs to be memorized. Medicine, for example, is laden with memorable mnemonics, among the cleaner of which are “Some Lovers Try Positions that They Can’t Handle” (to memorize the names of the carpal bones of the hand) and “Old People from Texas Eat Spiders” (for the cranial bones).

Another example is for the increases-by-ten structure of the decimal system: King Henry died while drinking chocolate milk. This translates to kilo—1,000; hecto—100; deca—10; “while” represents 1; deci—0.1; centi—0.01; milli—0.001

Time after time, these kinds of memory tricks prove helpful. If you’re memorizing something commonly used, see whether someone’s come up with a particularly memorable memory trick by searching it out online. Otherwise, try coming up with your own.