A Simple Secret To Remember Anything

It can be so frustrating, annoying and humiliating when you do not remember something that you have studied for days or something that you thought of a few hours ago.

Whether you are studying and need to remember Newton’s laws of motion or whether you are going to the grocery store and need to remember which foods to buy, I’m going to give you a simple secret to remember anything you want very easily.

Remembering By Association and NLP

It is far easier to remember something by association than it is by just cramming it into your head. An image, a sound, a smell, a taste or a touch are helpful ways of remembering something. When you hear certain songs on the radio, I am sure that you have certain memories attached to them. When you smell a certain perfume, I am certain it makes you think of somebody. This is how our brains work, they associate senses with information.

NLP (short for neuro linguistic programming) is a form of hypnosis that can be used to ‘anchor‘ ideas/emotions/information to an action or thing. Okay, that sounds complicated. Let me explain:

neuro linguistic programmingThe term ‘anchor‘ means to make permanent, to engrave it into your memory. (Just like a boat uses an anchor to stay in one position). While many ‘anchors’ occur naturally, (like the example of perfume and songs on the radio I mentioned above), with knowledge of NLP you can consciously create anchors for anything you want.

I am not an expert on NLP and am not going to give you exact processes how to create anchors for yourself. However, I find it to be a very interesting subject and it is definitely worth buying a book about. (Read more about NLP on Wikipedia).

I spent some time with NLP a few years back, and I created an anchor after having a really good night that I always wanted to remember.

The anchor I created was a firm squeeze on my left inner-elbow and up to this very day, whenever I squeeze my left inner elbow I immediately think back to that night and relive it very clearly. I’m honestly not making that up and I find it incredible that NLP can actually do things like that. Mind-blowing!

A Simple Secret To Remember Anything

The Strings Method

memory improvement techniquesI learnt about this method from a friend a few years ago. It is very easy to learn and it can really help you to remember something very quickly and for a very long time.

I mentioned ealier that we remember things easily if we associate them with something. This will make you understand why the following method is so effective.

Let’s take an example of meeting someone for the first time over coffee. You do not know anything about each other but you want to get to know each other and have a fun conversation. I don’t know about you, but often I don’t even remember someone’s name the first time I hear it.

Here is how to make sure you remember alot about someone or something from the very moment they start to give you information:

    Attach Imaginary Strings

  • As the other person is talking to you, you are going to attach imaginary strings with different objects for different pieces of information. Where you choose to attach the strings is up to you, but I like to keep them in sight, usually to the tops of people’s shoulders.
  • Attach Relevant Objects

  • To each string you will attach an imaginary object that relates to the information you want to remember about someone or something. Let’s say that the other person mentions that they like to travel – attach an imaginary aeroplane to a string from their shoulder. Let’s say that the other person tells you they have been playing guitar professionally for years – attach an imaginary guitar to another string from their shoulder.
  • A New String For Every Memory

  • As you learn more about the other person and have more things you want to remember about them, you keep adding strings to their shoulders with objects related to the information you want to remember.
  • Remember The Imaginary Objects

  • Since you chose the objects to attach to the person’s shoulders, you will very easily be able to remember them. Think how much easier it is to remember ‘plane, guitar, sushi, bmw, laptop, Eiffel Tower‘ than is is to remember:

    ‘He worked in a BMW dealership for 5 years. He travelled overseas twice a year and his favorite place to go is the Eiffel Tower. He has climed it nearly 20 times with his wife. He usually goes for conferences with business men and they always end up eating sushi, he doesn’t mind it but is not particularly fond of it either. When he was younger he played guitar in a band and performed at concerts multiple times.’

It’s Like A Computer

  • If you know your way on a computer, the ‘strings’ method is almost like organising your data in folders. Instead of having one folder where all the information is put together, mixed up and difficult to find, you create folders for each type of information. All you have to do is remember the folders. Once you access a certain folder your brain will remember what is in that folder. This way, you can remember much more and remember it alot quicker than you can by memorising it in a list or sentence style format.
  • To Sum Up

    The two useful techniques I have listed for memory improvement and easy-remembering are Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and the ‘strings’ method.

    • NLP uses a process to anchor information or a memory to a certain action/image/smell/sound etc. NLP anchors can last for years if not a lifetime. While it takes a bit longer to learn, it may be very worth your while.
    • The ‘strings’ method allows anyone to remember lots of different things very quickly by attaching imaginary strings with associated objects to the person or thing that you are trying to remember things about. After reading this post you should be able to apply the ‘strings’ method already.

    By the way, you can apply the strings method to anything you want. If you use it for an exam or interview, just attach the imaginary strings to the end of your pencil or your watch or whatever you will have in your sight at the time.

    Try it out and let me know if you notice a difference in remembering something. Is it quicker and easier than before?

    memory techniques

    P.S. If you are interested in using a scientifically proven method to improving your brainpower and gaining a much more relaxed state of mind, I highly recommend binaural beats.

    • BunkeyMoon

      not a nyc Idea. a vry nyc Idea

    • Chris Wakefield

      I think this is a good basis, but not a good method alone. We can’t simply create folders of information and, as you put it, expect our brains to recall what’s in that folder. Each piece of info needs to be associated. To adapt this, you might associate, for example, the guitar with a feature of that person, like their nose. That way, when you see that person, their features will remind you of the guitar. At the moment, there is no association with the person so the strings could belong to anyone. You could use a peg system to then use the word guitar to start a list of features about the person. This is how I would adapt this to be completely fool proof. What are your thoughts?

    • http://www.adadisini.info/ Calvin

      thank you for sharing this… it’s so usefully for me.. Awesome!

      • http://www.upgradereality.com Diggy

        Hi Calvin, Thanks for stopping by. There is another Technique I use when Studying something for a test or during a presentation or similar. What I do is
        1) Write down only the things that I don’t know.
        2) Then explain these notes into my Flip or iPhone video a day later.
        This activates a few things. Firstly only writing down what you don’t know saves time in both writing and reviewing. Secondly, thinking about it a day later is really good to place it into longer term memory. Thidly, I always say that you don’t know something until you have taught it to someone so explaining it to the video is just like that and reinforces the knowledge. This really helps you remember anything you need to…


    • Cara Caroline Cobbinah

      Thanks a lot for the article; nicely written!

    • http://increasewebtrafficeasy.com/ martoons

      It’s interesting… I remember all the things a person (I’ve never met before) is interested in and mentions, but have to work hard on remembering visual details like colours of clothing, shoes, etc. Maybe that means I’m better at the aural (hearing) senses than the visual senses. Apparently we’re much stronger at one of these senses… But food for thought anyway. :)

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/TFKNYVASRAVWVWD7AAGE554BQU Chris

      Just read this post it’s genius. I’d like to read more about NLP on this blog though. :)

      • http://www.upgradereality.com Diggy

        Thanks Chris, I’ll be writing about that over the next months

    • Rex

      This an inspiration

      • Diggy

        Thanks Rex!

    • Joel Wright

      I’m pretty sure this was an outstanding post and had tons of value but I can’t remember. Just kidding.

      I can really use the strings technique daily. Awesome!

    • Lewis LaLanne aka Nerd #2

      This. is. AWESOME.

      I can’t remember the last time I came across a personal development post that was so actionable, so fast, so powerfully.

      I’m in *LOVE* with this idea.

      One of the best memory strategies I’d ever come across prior to this was based on the teachings of Vera Birkenbiel and Paul Scheele’s “Memory Optimization” program which focused on making spider webs in your mind. But this course is like 6 audios and a workbook and lots of practice to really master the method.

      THIS process here… is SIMPLE and INSTANT!

      Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing it

      • Diggy

        Sweet, Happy that I could help you with this method Lewis!
        Thanks for the kind comment.
        Hope you have an awesome day!

    • John Hauxwell

      Great tips. Most of which are fairly well known.

      The problem for me these days is “remembering to remember”. By the time I think “I must remember this” the moment to use a technique has already passed.

      Senile old John :)

      • Diggy

        Hi John,
        Ahh…that’s a problem:)

        Consciously remembering things is difficult. The ‘Strings’ method is one way to help with that, but otherwise a good practice is to make something automatic. Create a system that works really well, drill it into your head to it becomes second nature and then reap the benefits of not having to consciously remember it all the time.

        Thanks for stopping by!

    • http://www.journeytopeak.com Jia Jun

      Wow~~ First of all. NEW WEB DESIGN!!
      Very clean design.
      It’s always a difficulty for me to remember people’s name, I only manage to remember their name after couple of times asking again and keep repeating it on my mind. I know how important it is to remember people’s name, it forms the respect of us to them, and show how much we appreciate them.
      NLP is great, I learn about it too, thanks for the post Diggy.

      • Diggy

        Hi Jia,
        Yes Sir, new design. Clean and sexy, although it still needs a fair amount of tweaks before it’s perfect.

        Remembering names is always a weakness for me too, but it makes such a difference if you can do it. People will instantly like you more if you remember their name first time round.

        Hope that the ‘strings’ tip helps you out:)

    • kanika

      it’s so much fascinating.it has removed all dust of misconceptions residing in mind and inculcating a tiny booster to enhance memory!!!!
      thank u so much!!!

    • Aaron Lund

      Hey, great stuff!

      I used this technique last night with the little band I play, imagining pieces of string attached to musical phrases. Not only did it improve my own performance, it affected the whole band.

      Thanks so much!!!

    • http://kapitar.com Robert Byrne

      Hey Diggy,

      Reminds me of studying for programming certification exams, very dry stuff with lots of obscure topics and lists of facts.

      I randomly tried a few techniques to memorize the information. One of them was to make anagrams using letters from the key words on a particular topic. When you remember the word you can reverse engineer the keywords from it. But how do you remember the word?

      Well that was a little more, odd. Drawing funny diagrams, usually with faces and swear words (it just worked better) beside the words really made them stick.

      On the day of the exam I could picture the images perfectly, I could see the page of notes I had drawn them on, and could almost scan through it, flipping the pages in my notebook around, I remember smiling about that in the exam room.

      Thanks for the great article, looking forward to reading through the back catalog this weekend.

    • http://thepolyman.com/ Andrew

      Hey Diggy, thanks for sharing this tip, so many people can use this kind of information.

      I’m a trainer of NLP/Hypnosis myself, and use anchoring all the time, so find it interesting you use it with remembering things. I suppose that’s really what it is, associating a memory with something else, rather than a typical anchor.

      Here’s another tip to really supercharge anchoring and this process, and is called synesthesia. Basically you want to stack as many different senses as you can on a state to a single “anchor”. You’d say, for example, combine a scent, song, and touch at the same time.

      The more you get in there, the stronger it’ll be. Also, scents are super powerful anchors, as it’s a primal olfactory system that bypasses parts of the brain.

      Hope that helps :)

      .-= Andrew´s last blog ..Introduction to Uzazu (The 16 Ways) =-.

      • Diggy

        Hey Andrew!!

        You’re welcome! Thank you for stopping by and sharing some of your wisdom. I never got that far into NLP, but it makes a lot of sense what you say to combine many senses to an anchor. Of course that will make it much more powerful!

        Hope you had a great weekend!

    • Jay Willingham – CampusByte

      I really wish they would teach these meathods in school. Both meathods I’ve used before, a modified form but very similar, and I can atest that these meathods DO work.

      There is a type of study skill I’ve learned based on the strings technique. Some University’s offer the class as an elective.

      The techniques you learn in this class are valuable but very few people take the time to learn it.

      Great post Diggy, your always a good teacher :)
      .-= Jay Willingham – CampusByte´s last blog ..What I Learned From The 7-Day Challenge =-.

      • Diggy

        Hey Jay!

        I’m actually very disappointed in the things that they teach in school. I was actually chatting to a friend about it recently and I think schools could do a much better job in preparing kids for the real world!

        Guess we’ll all have to pool together to create a movement to change the education system ;)
        Let all the kids in the world subscribe to UpgradeReality articles. Hehe

    • http://effortlessvitality.com Lauren Lionheart

      Hi Diggy, this is my first visit to your site. Good to be here! Thank you for the tip about “strings”. I find very visual methods for retaining knowledge the easiest for me, and I look forward to trying this. In fact, I’m going to tie a string to my laptop right now with an image of a shovel to remind myself to “return to Diggy’s site”. If I leave another comment in the next couple days, we’ll know how well it worked for me :)

      Here’s a similar tip I learned for remembering names, which seems to be troublesome for a lot of people. Myself included, if I don’t use this technique. Create a mental picture associated with the actual name. So for the name “Mandy” I might imagine a man holding a large letter D. For Mr. Robertson, I might imagine a very young robber standing next to his dad, both of them wearing matching black bandit-style masks (you know, a “robber’s son” :) It’s important to choose visual pictures that resonate with YOU. The first visual that comes to mind is probably going to work best.

      Thanks again for the tips. Have the Best Day Ever!
      .-= Lauren Lionheart´s last blog ..How to Instantly Be a Better You =-.

      • sylvia

        That’s awesome Lauren! Reminds me of a similar case…

        Last winter, a close fiend and colleague of my boss’ had trouble remembering the names of two other ladies who worked together in the industry–rather, he had trouble remembering which was which–and he came up with a mnemonic similar to yours.

        For the one, it was a hand to the ear with thumb and pinky extended and other fingers bent (the classic “call” gesture), followed by a downward motion of his hand with his thumb and index finger extended forward, as if pinching (“lean”) = Colleen, the slimmer one. The other was two hands out flat, palms up (“tray”), and then one hand held up forming the letter “C” = Tracy.

        Pretty clever, huh? Of course, we laughed so hard about his mnemonic that none of us have ever forgotten it!

        • Diggy

          Hey Sylvia!

          Thanks for stopping by :)

          Haha, interesting to read. I’ve never tried this way of remembering somebody’s name, but it seems like a good way to create an association for yourself that you will easily remember instead of a strange name.

      • Diggy

        Hey Lauren!
        Welcome to upgradereality :)

        Haha, I hope that it works and that you come back many times! Feel free to subscribe to updates!

        I like your method of using phonetics and attaching images to them that you can associate with. Good idea! I’ll try to remember to use it next time I meet a new person with a difficult name.


        • http://effortlessvitality.com Lauren Lionheart

          Quick update: the strings method seems to work. I’ve remembered to come back to your site many times over the last few days. Only snafu is that I kept remembering when I was away from my computer or otherwise engaged.
          I’m going to keep with it though. Thanks again!
          .-= Lauren Lionheart´s last blog ..Turn On Your Creative Brain in 2 Minutes =-.

          • Diggy

            Hey Lauren!

            Great! Thanks for coming back! I’m happy to have you as a reader and I hope that you will enjoy many more articles :)

    • Srinivas Rao

      Hey Diggy,

      This is really interesting. I’m in the rare camp of remembering alot of details, especially about people I meet. For some reason in that one area of my life I can remember everything. Usually I remember every bartenders name and all of the things about their lives. If there’s one thing I’d add to this, you might remember this scene from the movie Ocean’s 11. When Andy Garcia is walking into the Bellagio, Matt Damon says “This guy remembers every valet’s name on the way in and greets each of them. Not bad for a guy worth 3/4 of a billion dollars.” I think somewhere along the way this skill will become useful in my life. I’ve been wanting to write an article about this but couldn’t figure out how to translate it. But I think you’ve done a great job with this :)

      • Diggy

        Hey Srinivas!

        Ooh that is good. I’m pretty bad with names and usually I don’t remember much about someone unless they really stand out to me in some way. I am rather good at remembering where I put something or how something works.

        Ocean’s 11 was a few years too many ago. I remember it being an awesome movie though so I’ll have to rent it again!

        Good to hear your memory is so good, I hope it will serve you well in the future!
        (Thanks for commenting, appreciated as always! )

    • Jonny

      I had not heard of the strings method but I am definitely intrigue. Always one for new ways of learning and having known how much effectually using mind maps revolutionised my life then I am definitely gonna check this method out.

      Cheers Diggy.
      .-= Jonny

      • Diggy

        Hey Jonny

        Try it out and let me know how it works for you!

    • http://metacognitionblog.blogspot.com/ Ruke

      I have been anchoring states of mind to hand gestures. I call it creating a state of mind reflex. For example, if I want to be calm or relaxed all I would need to do is cross my pinky and ring finger. This works great for getting ready for exams. This is the first time I’ve heard of the strings method tho, I’m down to try this out.
      .-= Ruke´s last blog ..Create a State of Mind Reflex =-.

      • Diggy

        Hey Ruke!

        Cool to hear that you’ve mastered the anchor. It’s pretty powerful. And that is just the beginning of NLP. People who are really good with it can do some very sneaky and manipulative things to others if they want without that other person even knowing what is going on.

    • adamquean

      Hi Diggy, great post. I was going to say something else but I forgot what it was……… ;)

      • Diggy

        Hi Adam!

        Haha, nice one! Well, as long as you liked the post I guess it’s okay :)

        Hows your blog coming along?

    • http://www.2knowmyself.com farouk

      that’s a very nice one Diggy, in such a world with a fast pace it makes a lot of sense to learn how to remember things quickly

      thank u:)
      .-= farouk´s last undefined ..Response cached until Fri 9 @ 9:22 GMT (Refreshes in 23.97 Hours) =-.

      • Diggy

        Hey Farouk!

        You’re welcome. It’s amazing how little tips and tricks can make a world of difference to remembering something.

    • http://RelativeStrengthAdvantage.com Yavor

      Ha, pretty sweet. I will start using the strings method. Though remembering names using strings is still kinda tricky.

      Last night after a couple of beers I met a girl but today I don’t remember what her name was – I know it started with M lol.

      I enjoyed this post D-man, so as far as I’m concerned you can continue such ‘tips and tricks’ here.


      .-= Yavor´s last blog ..Full Contact Twist For Samurai Abs Of Steel =-.

      • Diggy

        Hey Yavor!

        Yeah remembering names is tricky, but remembering girls’ names is pretty crucial :) Glad that you liked the trick and I hope it will make life easier for you!


        • http://www.mastermindabacus.com/ Abacus

          I would suggest making a script where all of your lines are the one letter version, but the other lines are the full versions. That way you can read the other lines and then fill in your own.