In this page I will describe the linking method for memory improvement. This memory system was presented in memory techniques page through an excellent video but unfortunately this video is not available anymore and so I will try to present this easy and simple technique.
The linking technique, also called chaining method, is a very effective memory technique for remembering a list of items. It works actually by creating mental images that involve the items that you want to memorize and link these images like a chain.
This method is based solely on your visualization and imagination skills. Let’s see an example of the method in order to understand better what you have to do.
Let’s suppose that you want to remember the following list:
o Paint brush
The items are completely random, I put whatever it came on my head now. This method it can actually work with any object that you pick, though it has better results with non abstract meanings. For example it is easier to imagine a pizza than cleverness. However, it is not impossible but a little bit more difficult. Let’s see how you can use the linking method with this list.
Every mental picture you get must contain two objects. The first one is the one that you need to remember and the second one is the link to the next mental picture. So the chain will look like this:
(Onions,Pizza) <-> (Pizza,Sandals) <-> (Sandals,Watch) <-> (Watch,Butter) <-> (Butter,Fish) <-> (Fish,Paint brush) <->
(Paint Brush,Batteries) <-> (Batteries,Cat) <-> (Cat,Laptop)
At the end the chain will be a small story that involves you living a crazy experience. It will be continuous and not just images that replace each other.
In the above chain all the items except the first and the last one appear twice in the memory chain. You have to remember the first one though by your own in order to move through the links and remember the objects. This problem is solved easily by rearranging the object list so the first two items are directly related or by creating a link between the first object and a place that you are going to pass later in the day. But anyway it is a lot easier to remember just one item than more.
Another advantage of the linking method is that you can move towards any direction. For example you can remember the (sandal,watch) image and move backwards to (pizza,sandals) or forward to (watch,butter).
I will give you now an example of how to take mental pictures of every item pair above. You work similarly in your lists. At this point I would like to remind you the basic rule I told you in memory strategies page; the more unique and vivid the mental images, the better results you will have. In this method you must exaggerate in your pictures. Don’t just imagine a pizza with onions. This is something reasonable that you see it often. Instead imagine something strange, unreal or even ridiculous. This will make the experience unique. Another tip is to notice your feelings and emotions, your thoughts, your surprise and your senses. This will greatly enhance memory.
o Onions,Pizza : Imagine that whole huge onions are in the center of giant pizza. Notice the colors, the smells, the tastes. This pizza must be delicious. –>
o Pizza,Sandals: As you observing it one huge onion jumps out to your feet onto you new sandals and explodes.–>
o Watch,Butter: From the explosion, the red with green dots big wall watch falls down and breaks. You observe that from the broken front glass melted butter come out and forms a fish. It’s so unreal! –>
o Butter,fish: You identify the butter fish, it is the one from the movie Finding Nemo! –>
o Fish,paint brush: Then a paintbrush comes in and start painting the fish in its original colors –>
o Paint brush, Batteries: But before it finishes the paint brush stops because its batteries depleted. –>
o Batteries,Cat: You open the drawer to find batteries and a big black cat jumps out scaring you. –>
o Cat, Laptop: The scared cat runs directly towards a huge laptop monitor in order to escape as it thinks that there is an exit from the room and it crashes on the monitor.
Well, this story is so ridiculous that I feel ashamed to publish it now. It is so exaggerating, like some very strange dreams that you can’t find anything rational. Though, these exaggerations are the secret of the linking method that increase memory efficiency.
The images I created were the first ones that came to my mind. It is better to use the first image than to think about it and choose something you like more. Remember, your target is to remember the list and your mind will show you which mental picture is better to use.
The linking method is a simple and easy to implement technique. Using this method you can easily improve memory as you engage the long term memory for memorizing things that they would normally go to the short term memory. Until I create a new crazy and unreal experience in order to memorize a new list, I will be able to remember the above items for a very long time.
A last tip; don’t get discouraged if you take a long time to apply the linking method. It is natural. As with every skill, memory techniques require some time so your mind gets used to it and do it fast. If you use it often then you will be able to create the mental images in a matter of seconds.