The Method Of Loci

This is something I remember fondly from school. The Latin meaning for loci is locus meaning place or location, the method of loci is a method of being able to memorize information by placing each item that needs to be remembered at a memorable point along an imaginary journey. The information is then recalled in a specific order by retracting the same route through the imaginary journey. I’m not explaining it well am I? No you aren’t going crazy – it is a revolutionary way to remember information by associating it with places that you already know.

The method of loci was invented more than 2000 years ago, and widely used by the Greeks and later the Romans to memorize and give speeches that could last for hours. Unlike today, where paper is amazingly cheap, readily available and PowerPoint all over the place, during the times of the Greeks and Romans it wasn’t all that easy to just jot down a 30-page document. Also, reading speeches to an audience was frowned upon. If you wanted to be a successful orator, you had to give it from memory. So if you have a big meeting, presentation, you have an interview or you are trying to pass your exams without an a-level tutor to help– this is a task once you have your head around it can make a huge difference to your memory.

Create the Memory Palace

Firstly you must establish a mental journey along a well-known route, for example, through your house or place of work. The first 5 loci, or locations, of the journey might be:

  1. Your front door
  2. On your dining room table
  3. Up your stairs
  4. On your toilet in your bathroom
  5. On your bed in your bedroom

These locations are your first “memory palace”. You will always travel through your memory palace in the same order – you must have a memorable fixed starting point.

Memorize the Items

Then, take a list of five items that you want to memorize, and imagine each item in one locus, or location, of your memory palace. For example, you could try memorizing the following shopping list:

  1.  milk
  2. carrots
  3. chicken
  4. loaf of bread
  5. chocolate bar

Using the sample memory palace above, you would then imagine a giant bottle of milk being held by a crying baby – the wilder, ruder and crazier it is the better!

Recall the Items

That’s it you are done! You know have to assign each location with an item to remember but you must remember to keep going over it so you don’t forget anything! If you want to make another list – pick a completely separate house/room so you don’t get confused! I challenge you to do this in whatever room you are in! Remember to mentally walk through your journey a couple of times to make sure it is firmly committed to memory.

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