How To Remember Anything: 15 Memory Tricks That Really Work

How To Remember Anything: 15 Memory Tricks That Really Work

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Taryn Williford
Sep 28, 2015

Your brain is a pretty powerful thing, and yet, you can't seem to remember where you left your keys last night. There's a lot to be said for having a routine and keeping things in the same place every time (can you say "landing strip"?). But sometimes, you just need a good, solid memory trick.

Here are 15 helpful tricks to keep from losing things, remembering things, and just generally keeping your life together:

Never forget a phone charger in a hotel room:

When you get to the hotel, unpack your suitcase and place it next to a wall outlet. Plug in your charger and wrap the cord around the suitcase handle. Leave it there for the duration of your visit. – PureWow

To remember something you need to take with you:

Take the thing that needs to get to work or school or anywhere else, and stick in it a plastic bag or tote, then hang that bag right from the inside doorknob.

So you remember to pack the last-minute essentials:

When you pack a suitcase the night before a trip, you have to leave out everyday essentials like your phone charger and the toothbrush you'll use the next morning. To remember to pack them, leave noticeably absurd placeholders in their place on top of your open suitcase, like a hefty extension cord to symbolize your phone charger.

To remember where you parked:

Step 1 happens as soon as you park: Look to see what section you’re in. Step 2: Create a mental snapshot. If you’re in section 3D, imagine three dogs chasing each other around your car. – AARP

(Image credit: Kate Bowie Carruth )

To keep from forgetting something you're carrying around:

A trick for toted items: If you're in the habit of leaving your umbrella or scarf behind, put it on top of something that will move when you get up to go, such as your chair or your purse. – Women's Health

Make a song out of your everyday out-the-door carry:

Might sound corny, but it works: Make up a mantra composed of three items that you typically misplace. For example: "BlackBerry, car keys, umbrella" hummed (in your head) to the tune of "Mary Had a Little Lamb. – Women's Health

To remember where you place your wallet every time:

How often do you forget where you left your keys, your sunglasses, or your wallet? The next time you put something down somewhere, pause a moment to notice where you've placed it, and then in your mind blow it up. If you visualize the explosion in enough detail, you won't forget where you put it. – Psychology Today

Turn off the oven and say it out loud:

Most of the time you probably do turn off the stove, the coffeepot, and the iron. But if you find yourself frequently guessing or sometimes truly forgetting, make an effort to be mindful of the critical moment when you flip the switch. Say out loud, “Oven is off,” “Iron is unplugged.” – Real Simple

To remember to do something before bed:

Something you need to absolutely get done today? Drop a big heavy coffee table book (or some other thing) right on your pillowcase. The out-of-place item interrupts your plan to tuck in for the night and will jog your memory about what needs to get done.

The foolproof way to remember a name:

As you meet someone, consider a famous person (or famous to you) who shares their first name and looks somewhat like them, i.e. Ryan looks like Ryan Gosling (if you could be so lucky.) I’ve found that it can be harder to make the association, but once you do, it’s locked in. – Forbes

To remember to take your phone off of silent mode:

When you go to put your phone on vibrate to sit in on a meeting or at the movies, wrap something around the phone, like a rubberband or ponytail holder. When you pick up your phone after the event, you'll remember to turn the ringer back on so you don't miss important calls.

To remember something in the fridge:

If you're bringing lunch leftovers from work or a party, or you need to remember a dish for a potluck, place your car keys in the fridge right alongside the item. You won't get very far without your food.

To remember everything on your grocery list:

Make up a story using the items you need — the more absurd and dramatic, the better. “A chicken was eating cornflakes when a car burst through the wall. A monkey was driving, throwing oranges out the window; he honked wildly as he drove off a cliff into a lake filled with milk …” The narrative will take you from item to item until you reach the end of your list. – AARP

Remember your reusable grocery bags:

Stash them in your car, and always start your shopping list with “bags” so you remember to get them out of the car before you start shopping.

Move an object out of place in your car to remember an errand:

If I'm driving to the mall and suddenly remember I have to pick up a birthday card for someone, I'll take my purse off the passenger seat and put it on the floor in the back seat. When I arrive at the mall and reach for my purse in its usual spot, I'm reminded of the reason I moved it. – Thrifty Fun

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