Updated: Feb 28, 2021
How to learn new things quickly and remember things easily.
I recently completed the Kwik Learning Recall Masterclass, which was 12 weeks of different memory lessons. I took this class because I wanted to help my students improve their memory, especially since they told me my exams have so much information. I’m happy to report that what I learned in this course will indeed help students, whether you’re a formal student in school or just a student of life.
Before this course, my memory was pretty average. I forgot people’s names 2 minutes after they told me. I struggled to remember people’s birthdays and phone numbers. I had trouble remembering new words and their definitions. If you told me a list of words or numbers, I wouldn’t be able to repeat it back to you correctly.
After the course,
I can remember people’s names even weeks after without any review (lesson 2).
I can recall people’s birthdays without having to check my calendar (lesson 6&7).
If you told me a list of 20 things, I can repeat that list back to you (lessons 1, 4, 5).
If you told me a list of 20 numbers, I can repeat that list back to you (lesson 6).
I can remember new words after learning it only once; I don’t need to keep reviewing the definition (lesson 3&9)
For each of the 12 lessons, I took detailed notes and published a short article on it. If you want to gain any of the memory skills I mentioned, you can read my notes for that lesson.
Lesson Notes Directory:
You can click on the link to go to that lesson.
If you are a student, I highly recommend checking out lessons 1, 3, and 4 because school often requires you to memorize a list of things, learn new vocabulary, and remember facts. If you’re learning a foreign language, then I recommend checking out lesson 9. If you often meet different people and attend networking events for work, I recommend lesson 2.
I’ll summarize a few of the key ideas from this course here:
80% of memory comes from motivation and observation
Memory works in images. Therefore, turn whatever you want to remember into an image.
Use a memory trigger list to remember lists
Key Idea 1: 80% of memory comes from motivation
If I told you, “I will tell you a list of 10 things. If you can say it back to me without writing it down in 10 minutes, I’ll give you 1 million dollars.” Would you remember that list? Probably. Why? Because your motivation is very high.
Therefore, the biggest driver of memory is actually motivation. The memory techniques from the course account for that last 20%. They do make memory a lot easier, but if you aren’t motivated to remember the thing, then even the best memory tool won’t help you. So before you try to remember anything, always ask yourself, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how motivated am I to learn or remember this? How can I increase that motivation number?”
Key Idea 2: Memory works in images.
Why is it so hard to remember things like a name or a number or a new word? Because these are all abstract ideas that don’t bring out a concrete image when we hear it. For example, if you hear the word “Jim”, you don’t think of an image. The thing is, our memory works in images. So if you imagine that person lifting weights in the gym, then you will remember that person’s name is Jim.
To do another example, let’s say you learn a new word: polemic? It means argument. How can you remember it once and for good? Most people remember new words by reviewing it over and over again. That’s a slow way. A much more effective way is to turn the spelling into a picture and then the meaning into a picture and then connect the two pictures.
To continue the polemic example, for the spelling, you can imagine a pole and a mic (microphone). Then for the meaning, imagine someone shouting at you and arguing with you. The next time you see the word, you’ll have this image pop up in your head, and you will remember the meaning. This method works for words in foreign languages as well.
Key Idea 3: Use a memory trigger list to remember lists.
Many of us struggle to remember lists, whether it be the Periodic Table of Elements or a grocery list or a to-do list. In order to remember a list, we need to have a memory trigger list. A really simple example is take the numbers 1 to 10 and pick words that rhyme with each number:
This “bun list” serves as your memory trigger list, which Jim calls a “peg list”. If I give you a list of 10 things, you just turn each item into a picture and then attach it to the peg. For example, let’s say you want to remember the 10 amendments.
Freedom of speech: Imagine a hot dog bun giving a speech.
Right to bear arms: Imagine a bear putting shoes on his arms.
Freedom from quartering soldiers: Imagine a solider on a tree with lots of quarters falling out of his pocket.
Have fun with it. Make it weird and extraordinary. The more vivid the image, the easier it is to remember. Once you know the list very well, then the pictures can disappear. See class 1 for more details.
Another great list to make a location list, also called a memory palace. Basically, you imagine you just enter your home (or school or office or anywhere), and then you walk a specific path throughout your home. Pick 10 items that you see on that route. For example, first is the shoe mat, then it’s the sofa, then it’s the refrigerator, etc. If you need to remember a list of items, just attach each item to a location in your memory palace. See class 5 for more details.
Throughout the course, Jim always says,
“There’s no such thing as a good or bad memory, only a trained or untrained memory.”
After taking his memory course, I can affirm the truth of that statement. I hope these notes will help you train your memory!