Last week I took my MacBook in to get my fan-sounds-like-a-Sea-King-helicopter problem fixed. They assigned me a six digit work order number. I looked at it, applied my one-and-only memory trick, and immediately memorized it. In fact, I still have it memorized. It’s 196805.
I do not mean to praise my memory. It is notoriously bad, and badly addled by modern technology. I can, however, commit numbers to my short-term memory quite easily.
What’s my trick? I convert the number to hockey players. As you know, each player gets assigned a more-or-less permanent number. Because I’m a hockey fan, I know the numbers of many of the players in the league. I also remember the numbers of a lot of older, retired players. I haven’t tried to memorize these numbers–it’s just happened osmotically over 15 or 20 years of watching sports.
So, the aforementioned work order number is Naslund-Jagr-Murzyn.
Oddly, I still remember a European phone number from last year: 24-21-88-42. That was Cooke-Lumme-Lindros-Lott. Ronnie Lott was a football player, but I couldn’t remember a hockey player with the number 42.
I’m sure this is a common strategy. And it could obviously apply to any memorized set of number-word pairs. Chemists probably remember 196805 as potassium-erbium-boron. Do you use this trick?