Little Know Ways To Remember Things Better
Whether we are lawyers, surgeons, salesmen, housewives, symphonic or streetcar conductors, there is one kind of remembering that is necessary to all of us. It is right here that most of us commit our major sins. We all, no matter what our business or financial status is, are always conscious of how to remember better. We may forget to mail letters, to make train reservations, to bring home sun-tan lotion when our wives are leaving for the country. Frequently these oversights get us into consequences ridiculously out of proportion to their importance.
For some reason or other, when we forget, it always seems a most natural and human failing, but when other people forget, we harbor in our hearts the conviction that they did it out of sheer indifference or downright contrary cussedness.
Show me the household where the temperature doesn’t shoot down to zero under this kind of barrage: “Did you send my suit to the cleaners? Did you call the landlord to fix the sink? Why haven’t you paid the gas bill?”
You don’t need a secretary to remind you of the little things you might forget. Even a secretary’s memory is not infallible. If you’re concerned for how to remember better; you can keep in mind petty details independently and surely with the ten key words you already know. Make your own Mental Memorandum List.
You don’t need any fixed time for filing your memoranda on your mental hooks, as you do when you make memoranda in your little notebook. You merely file them in order as you think of them. In the act of running for a streetcar, you may remember that as soon as you get to the office you must look over the report of yesterday’s meeting. Very well, file that idea at once on alarm clock, key word number one.
You may be buying cigars when you recall that sometime during the day you must telephone Schmidt and Company about their bill. File this idea on trousers, key word number two. And so on, filing each memorandum in order on its proper mental hook.
Here is a memorandum list of ten “musts” drawn up and carried out by one of my students. Of course, you will want to make out your own personal list, but an examination of his will help you get the idea.
Buy a can of green paint.
Get the car greased.
Buy a hat.
Pay fire insurance.
Feed the dog.
Get bicycle for Junior.
Send flowers to my wife.
Reserve tennis court.
These were the ten things this student had to remember to do. Here is how he remembered to do them:
1. For two weeks now I’ve been meaning to paint that trellis. See alarm clock hanging on trellis with green paint dripping all over its face. See myself pouring a bucket of green paint on the alarm clock. Alarm clock—Buy can of green paint.
2. Another thing I keep forgetting is to get the car greased. See my trousers smeared all over with grease, after I finish greasing the car. My trousers pockets are filled with slimy grease too. Trousers—Get car greased.
3. This hat is a disgrace. I need a new one. Let’s see—I want to sit on the chair, but the seat of the chair is piled high with hats, and hats are hanging all over the back of the chair. I sit down hard on a straw hat and crush it on the
chair. Chair—Buy a hat.
4. Another notice this morning to pay my fire insurance. See my table going up in flames, with my policy in the middle of it. I burn my hands trying to snatch the fire-insurance policy off the table. Table—Pay fire insurance.
5. Feed the dog. I always forget this, but Bozo doesn’t. See Bozo chewing up my newspaper because he’s so hungry. The dog is lying on the newspaper, eating the raw, bloody meat. See dog food smeared all over the newspaper. Newspaper—Feed the dog.
6. I’d better get the winter’s coal in early this year and avoid delay. See the automobile filled with coal, in a fog of coal dust. I have to shovel out all the coal before I can get into the automobile. I open the auto door and coal rushes out, and I can’t see the road because the wind shield is black with coal dust. Automobile—Order coal.
7. My wife always buys my shirts too large. See a policeman in shirt tails stopping traffic to come over to me. He takes off his shirt, I take off mine, and we exchange shirts. Policeman—Exchange shirts.
8. I told Junior I’d buy him a bike if he kept the yard clean. See Junior riding around and around in a revolving door on his new bike. He’s getting dizzier and dizzier and finally falls off his bike. The revolving door whirls the crushed bike and bleeding boy swiftly around. Revolving door— Get bicycle for Junior.
9. Tomorrow’s our anniversary and I mustn’t forget to send flowers to my wife. You know how women are. See bright red flowers growing out of the mailbox on the corner, and water and earth running down its sides. I reach into the mailbox slot to pick the flowers and am stuck sharply by thorns. Mailbox—Send flowers to my wife.
10. Oscar is coming out this week end for tennis (good old Oscar!) Tennis is the tenth thing to remember. Ten tennis rackets are hanging on the bars of the window. You are throwing ten tennis balls at the man in the window. Some of the tennis balls get stuck between the bars of the window. You break the glass in the general-delivery window with a tennis ball. General-delivery window— Reserve tennis court.
You might want to see how many of the items you can now recall. However, I’m not asking you to check yourself on this list. It was included to show you how to remember better by using the Mental Filing System. There were ten things the person had to do on a particular day. Now that you see how he filed his memorandum list, I suggest you make one of your own. Fill out the following spaces with a number of things you want to remember to do tomorrow. Here is your chance to gather up some loose ends that you have been forgetting. It will, as well, enable you to get started using this system in your own everyday affairs.
THINGS I AM GOING TO DO TOMORROW
(Hook them up with the key words)
- ALARM CLOCK……………………………….
- NEWSPAPER ………………………………….
- POLICEMAN ………………………………….
- REVOLVING DOOR…………………………..
- GENERAL-DELIVERY WINDOW…………..
Review this list carefully, building up a vivid, colorful, and definite mental image for each item. Always make the key word the basis for your picture.
Now cover the list and see if you can write it below without hesitation. This test is jumbled simply to test whether or not your key words form an important part of the images. I have often found that people forget because the key-word image is too loosely associated. Naturally, when you come to use your list, you will refer to the items in regular order, not as they will appear below.
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