I took a memorization course because of the grocery store I worked at when I was much younger. It taught how to memorize lists of items by creating images of the numbers and attaching them to images of the items within the list. You can memorize a list of 10 things with the information I’m providing.

The way it works is first you need to have the basic number images memorized. You will always use the same images to represent those numbers. The reason why the images listed below were chosen is because they look like or represent the numbers really well. So make sure to have the first list in your mind to begin with. Once you have them, you have them for good. I haven’t used them much in the last few years, yet I was still able to easily recall them for this post.

Here are the images for the numbers:

1 – A candle. Have it burn whatever the item is.
2 – A swan1. Have it biting the item.
3 – A sideways W. Have it act like a handle on the item.
4 – A sailboat. Have the item balancing on the mast2
5 – A hand3. Have it grabbing the item.
6 – Golf club. Hit the item with it.
7 – A garden hoe. Have it chopping the item.
8 – Two links of a chain. Have the item going into and out of the links over and over.
9 – A balloon on a stick. Have the item pop the balloon.
10 – A martini4. Stir the martini with the item.5

Now, in your mind, imagine those pictures for the numbers interacting with the items you’re trying to memorize. Here is an example list that you might try to memorize for this “lesson”6:

1. Tire – The candle burns the tire. Could even mention the burning rubber.7
2. A book – The swan has taken a bite out of the book and is chewing it.
3. Pencils – The W is attached to the side of the pencil. But now there’s more pencils. You now have a suitcase made of pencils.
4. A computer – The computer is plugged into a socket in the sky and is balancing on the mast. It falls over and shorts out in the water.
5. A mountain – Your hand is holding the mountain. You must be a giant.
6. A water melon – The golf club hits the melon and gets embedded into it. Now you could hit a soccer ball with that club.
7. Homework – Chop up those papers like you mean it!
8. Phone – The phone has sprouted legs and is running through the links of the chain.
9. A spoon – Actually it’s now a spork so it has pointy tips and you pop the balloon with it.
10. A broom – Must be a really large martini if it requires a broom to stir it.

Now close your eyes and try and list the items in your mind. You’ll find that you remember this entire list. Not only that, but if you get someone to call out random numbers, you should be able to tell them the specific item for that number. And finally, get them to call out about 5 or 6 items/numbers, and you’ll not only be able to tell them the item or number that goes with it, but also the items and numbers they did not call from the list.

Try coming up with your own lists. Give your brain time to “forget” between lists though or you’ll end up getting them confused. Oh, and for this to be useful, you might want to make up useful lists. Works great for short shopping lists.

  1. looks like one []
  2. the weirder, the easier to remember. []
  3. five fingers []
  4. toothpick and olive []
  5. Since coffee is popular, you could also try making this the overhead view of a cup of coffee and a straw. The stirring still fits. []
  6. make sure to picture each of these in your mind as you read them []
  7. Smells are easy to remember. []