Do you struggle with memorizing? Does the struggle become even more brutal when what you are trying to memorize contains a list – or a lot of details? If so, grab a cup of coffee, take a seat, give me 31 minutes, and we’ll tackle this common problem head-on!
Main Topic: 6 Tricks for Memorizing Lists and Details.
If you’re like most people, you struggle with memorizing – and having it stick. When what you’re trying to remember is God’s Word, this is particularly frustrating. After all, if God wanted us to know it, He’d make it easier. Right?
Well…maybe not. But after spending more than two decades internalizing large chunks of the Bible, I have certainly learned a few tricks that make it way easier than when I simply tried to “learn a verse…add a verse…review those two…add another…” (Insert heavy sigh here.)
Let’s take a look at six tricks that have helped me – and thousands of other people – learn not only the Bible, but phone numbers, grocery lists, and loads of other details. (NOTE: I used the list of eight items in Philippians 4:8 as the example throughout the podcast episode. Thus the fancy Bible image above!)
Trick 1: Internalize before you memorize.
This has to do as much with purpose and mindset than anything else. Remember WHY you are doing this! The goal should always be to know the Word…not just the words. (Tweet That!)
If you internalize before you memorize, then the memorization will be tweaking what you already know. Otherwise, you’re always learning from scratch. Tedious at best.
Trick 2: Practice “Grouping”
Our brains love groups (and patterns for that matter). If you clump items together in groups of two or three your brain will process those “grouped items” together as one. Don’t group more than three items together. My experience – as well as a few things I’ve read – tells me that the grouping breaks down starting at four items.
Trick 3: Create “First Letter Sentences”
Remember your first piano lesson? Did some tell you that the notes on the treble clef can be remembered by saying “Every Good Boy Does Fine?” (Actually, being an 8-year-old at the time, my piano teach substituted “Deserves Fudge” for “Does Fine.” Well-played.)
Applying this principle to the eight items in Philippians 4:8 – true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy – first read Philippians several times. Then read the paragraph that contains 4:8 several times. Then, say this sentence 4-5 times:
The New Royal Prince Loves An Excellent Princess
You’ll never leave one of the items out and you’ll always have them in the right order.
Trick 4: Use a “Link” System
The simplest way to explain this is to take the items on your list and associate you with the first one, the first one with the second, the second with the third, and so on.
Example: Remembering boat, sandwich, keys, and window would be done by picturing yourself driving a boat. Then you think of the boat carrying a cargo completely of sandwiches. Then a sandwich where the meat is shaped like keys. Then throwing keys out a window.
This works for details in a Bible event…or items on your grocery list!
NOTE: For a more thorough explanation of “Linking,” you can listen to the podcast or read this article.
Trick 5: Use the “Peg” System
This is another association trick. The uniqueness of this one is first memorizing these ten items that rhyme with their corresponding number:
Any time you have ten (or fewer) items to remember associate what you’re trying to remember with the item associated with that number. To use the same items from Trick 4, you would picture a boat shooting out of a huge gun, a shoe stepping on a sandwich, a tree that grows keys instead of apples, and a door with a strange window cut out. Voila!
NOTE: For a more thorough explanation of the Peg System, you can listen to the podcast or read this article.
Trick 6: Create a story. (The weirder the better!)
This is quite similar to Trick 4, but you actually link everything together into one, long story. This trick is used by Nelson Dellis, the USA Memory Champion (who just won the 2014 championship).
Using the same items above…You would picture yourself driving a boat made completely of sandwiches. When the boat starts to sink, in your frustration, you throw the keys out the porthole window.
Again, you can listen to the podcast or listen to Nelson Dellis describe this system himself in this really well-done video. (Thanks LifeHacker.com for first introducing me to this video.)
Listener Question (Listen at 23:32)
How do I memorize the verse numbers?”
The “pre-answer” to this is that you need to decide WHY you want to memorize the verse numbers. Is it really necessary? I find for most people, the answer is “no.” For me, I want to know what chapter the verse is in, but knowing something in “John 6” instead of “John 6:4” doesn’t feel limiting to me at all.
That said, if you are a “Bible Quizzer” or a student who needs to know the verse numbers for a test (another subject altogether), then my answer to you is Make sure you memorize the verse numbers AFTER you have internalized and understand the section – not before. Trying to learn the verse numbers at the same time is very tedious and academic – not relational.
Can I answer your question on a future episode?
I have several ways you can submit a question – or an idea for an episode topic:
- Call the dedicated Podcast Voicemail Line: (425) 522-3487
- Shoot me an email: podcast– at – keithferrin.com
- Record a voicemail – up to 90 seconds – at www.speakpipe.com/keithferrin.
- Send a message through my Facebook Page
- Leave a comment here on this page.
Resource of the Week
Skype GROUP Video Calling
As of this week, Skype video calling is now FREE! (Here’s the official page.) This was just announced on Monday (April 27, 2014). Previously, it was part of their $10/mo “Skype Premium” service. Now it’s free for up to ten people.
Team meetings. Family gatherings. Brainstorming sessions. Volunteer training. It’s pretty amazing what you can do these days with free technology!
Links (People, Info, and Resources) from Episode 22:
- In depth article on “Linking.” (Click here.)
- In depth article on the “Peg System.” (Click here.)
- LifeHacker.com post with the Nelson Dellis video. Basic YouTube page with just the video.
- Direct link to this podcast on iTunes.
- A Step-by-Step Guide to Subscribing to Any Podcast on Any Device (with screen shots)
- Podcast Art – Pipe & Tabor (Vancouver, WA)
- Intro/Outro Music – Dan Carollo of CeltoGrass Music
[reminder]What is one trick you have used to memorize lists and details?[/reminder]