Our memories are best at remembering things that are novel and new – things that are overly familiar often get forgotten. Memories seem to merge into one another if they don’t have any defining features.

The aim is to use your imagination to make things totally novel and unique. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Take a generic, uninteresting item that’s commonly on your shopping list. You’re going to attempt to make it memorable enough that the shopping list is no longer needed! I’ll take a banana as an example
  2. Firstly, make use of your senses. The more senses you engage when remembering, the better the chance that the memory ‘anchors’ into your mind. Imagine the smell of the banana, the texture of its skin. Imagine the smell – does it smell ripe or unripe? Imagine its colour in detail – is it green, yellow, turning black? How does it sound if you drop it on the floor? Characterise the banana – if it’s ripe, all your sensations should point to that fact
  3. Secondly, make use of your emotions. What’s your immediate reaction to seeing the banana? Does it make you happy (because you like bananas…?) or sad? This is another opportunity to anchor the memory in place
  4. Finally, make the memory unique. The more surreal, the better. You want it to be different to anything else that you’ve remembered. An easy way to achieve this is to combine things that aren’t normally combined. You could give the banana a personality – is it angry or sad? Or you could imagine that the banana is incredibly big or moving around by itself. Anything surreal and memorable!

In order to remember a long list of items, you’ll need to combine this with another memory technique based on location — check out the location section of the Find A Spark Memory Homepage for more on that!