Get The World In Your Head

gettheworld-100This article was taken from http://memory-masters.com/2009/10/15/get-the-world-in-your-head/ and was written by Florian ‘Flauwy’ Delle. www.memory-sports.com is also a great reference for memory sports and memory training.

Theoretical Structure

The information we will have to memorize can be structured as followed:

  • Countries = A, B, C, …
  • Capitals = a, b, c, …
  • Order (either geographical, by name, by inhabitants, by size,…) = 1, 2, 3, …
  • Continent = If we break down the countries to each continent, we have to use a certain hook for each area/continent = keyword

To memorize all this information we will create chunks out of each group. There are several ways to do so.

Choose Your Method

First of all you have to decide for one of the many available memory methods. This is very important because it will help you to memorize the countries and capitals quick and effectively. The worst thing you could do is just to repeat the answers over and over again. You will end up spending much more time with a smaller rate of correct recall.

Let’s have a look at a few methods we already learned on Memory-Masters. You can use what every system fits best for you. I however will use the locked Wardrobe Method to create examples for you when we start with the country project. This is because I think it is the most rewarding memory system for this particular task:

  • Simple Association. If you just want to know the capitols to each country you don’t need an order. This will make your mental images smaller and easier to create. You could even get rid of the extra keyword for the continent and simply connect country and capital. The downside is that you most certainly wouldn’t be able to recall the entire countries of an area/continent/world at once. It would look like this:
  • (A+a), (B+b), (C+c), …
  • The String Method. Using this method would be very easy to start right away. You could create a (very) long story with all the countries and capitals in Europe. There would be no further information necessary to code your mental images. Since a story has its own natural structure you wouldn’t need to use the pegs of a wardrobe. The downside is that it would be difficult to separate the countries from each other and see every chunk as an individual. Hence it would cost more time to recall a certain answer. Your story would look like this:
  • Keyword + (A+a) + (B+b) + (C+c)…
  • The Simple Wardrobe Method. If you have a free wardrobe with enough pegs available you could use it to associate each peg with a country and its capital. This could be any kind of wardrobe like a number system, one or several alphabet systems or even a journey. Using this wardrobe would block it from using for other information in the future. It would simply be too difficult to differentiate many things on each peg without any mental help. Therefore I would not suggest this technique if you have only one wardrobe available. Your images would look like this:
  • (1+A+a), (2+B+b), (3+C+c), …
  • The locked Wardrobe Method (SEM³). Finally we come to the method of my choice. The difference between the simple Wardrobe Method and the locked one is that we are using an extra keyword within all our associations. This will help us to differentiate between several lists we memorize using one single wardrobe. Because we use a key to lock each list to the wardrobe I call it the Locked Wardrobe Method. Every key will open another door of the wardrobe. By the way: Tony Buzan, bestselling author, inventor of the Mind-Map and founder of the World Memory Championships, is calling it the Self Enhanced Memory Matrix (SEM³). The only difference between those two systems is the way how to create your keywords. Tony suggests using the Major Code to create 100 random keys for 100 lists. I prefer to use natural associations as a key for a certain list. But in the end both ways are the same. Using an extra keyword might seem to be a little overwhelming when you create a memory chunk out of four different things for every country. It will take more time to create those stories. But it pays off because you can use one single wardrobe thousands of times. Your chunks would look like this:
  • (1+key +A+a), (2+key+B+b), (3+key+C+c), …

Because we use a key to lock each list to the wardrobe I call it the Locked Wardrobe Method. Every key will open another door of the wardrobe.

Create A Logical Order

If you want to create a list of all the countries in the world you have to structure them logically. The first thing we do is to break them down to their continents. This will make them well-arranged. And since we will use different keywords for every area, we will always know which country belongs to which continent. The next step is to order the countries of each continent. This is very tricky and offers many different ways. Here a few ways how to structure them:

  • Geographical Order
  • Clockwise (or vica versa)
  • From West to East (or vice versa)
  • From North to South (or vice versa)
  • In a sinuous line starting at a specific point and following a specific order
  • All of the above together (more or less)
  • Divided by areas plus the above structures
  • Alphabetical Order
  • Number of Inhabitants
  • Amount of the gross national product (GPN)
  • Size of the country in square meters (or square miles)

I think all of the above ways are interesting and make sense in some way. Nevertheless we have to decide for one of them. Since I also want to find a country on a map I will go for a geographical order. To make it easier to find a certain country I will divide each continent into several areas. In Europe I will use the four hemispheres North, East, South and West. Each hemisphere will be listed by drawing a circle clockwise, making a sinuous line if necessary.

Find Your Keywords

To differentiate between the continents and also other memory lists you will have to choose a proper keyword. This could be anything as long as you can imagine it. You will have to use it dozens of times which means you should also LIKE your keyword. It doesn’t make any sense if you use a key you cannot get familiar with. Using a natural or context association to come up with a key is in my opinion the best way. That’s how I came up with the following keys for the five continents (you can change them if you don’t like them):

  • Europe = White Bull (In the Greek mythology Zeus disguised himself as a white bull to abduct the beautiful Europa)
  • Africa = Lion
  • Asia = Chinese Dragon
  • Australia and Micronesia = Koala Bear
  • America = I am not certain yet but I would like to go for a Native American (Indian).

Prepare Your Wardrobe

The last thing to do now is to create the wardrobe you want to use when I start with Europe next week. Of course you can also decide to use one of the systems where you don’t need one. But since this is a major project you should be on the right track and go for the most sofisticated system, the locked Wardrobe Method (or SEM³ or whatever you want to call it). It will be worth it.

If you don’t know yet what kind of wardrobe you should built I would suggest you a list of 50 persons (for starters; later you can increase this list to 100). You could order them into 5 different categories with 10 persons each. Use the Major Code to structure them since it is the easiest and most logical code out there. Persons are very good to create these kind of associations. Another alternative would be the Major System itself with mixed objects and persons.

This could look like the following:

Categories

1-10 = Toons

1. Donald Duck [1 = T, D]
2. Naruto [2 = N]
3. Mickey Mouse [3 = M]
4. Road Runner [4 = R]
5. Lucky Luke [5 = L]
6. Charlie Brown [6 = soft CH, J]
7. Coyote, Willie E. [7 = K, G, hard C]
8. Fred Flintstone [8 = F, V, W]
9. Pink Panther [9 = P, B]
10. Simpson, Bart [0 = S, Z]

11-20 = Actors

21-30 = Musicians

31-40 = Super Heroes

41-50 = Politicians

Other ideas for categories: Spiritual Leaders (Jesus, Martin Luther King, Gandhi), Sport Athletes, Movie and Book charakters, more Toons ( I just love them; you could use ten toons from each Cartoon you like). I ordered the categories above randomly because they did not fit into the Major Code

You probably got my idea by now. The above wardrobe is simply a suggestion. Come up with whatever you like.

This article was taken from http://memory-masters.com/2009/10/15/get-the-world-in-your-head/ and was written by Florian ‘Flauwy’ Delle. www.memory-sports.com is also a great reference for memory sports and memory training.

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