You exercise your body to stay physically in shape, so why shouldn't you exercise your brain to stay mentally fit? With these daily exercises you will learn how to flex your mind, improve your creativity and boost your memory. As with any exercise, repetition is necessary for you to see improvement, so pick your favorite exercises from our daily suggestions and repeat them as desired. Try to do some mentalrobics every single day!
Many of our mnemonic systems rely on making visual associations. Visual associations are very effective in recalling concrete material that can be easily pictured in the mind. Abstract material is often difficult to visualize, although the phonetic system does do a good job at making numbers concrete.
For abstract material, verbal associations are much more effective. Verbal associations are things like rhymes, acronyms and acrostics.
You should never rely on one mnemonic system for all of your learning. When you are studying something, try to determine if the material is abstract or concrete and pick a mnemonic system that best suits the material.
We have written about many different types of Mnemonics and Systems (Peg, Phonetic, Loci, etc). Using a system is a very effective way to study because you can reduce the number of repetitions necessary to learn the material. This gives you extra time to over-learn it, or to learn something else. Over-learning always helps to improve retention regardless of whether you use a mnemonic system.
One thing to keep in mind is that using a mnemonic system does not magically implant the information into your memory forever. It only allows you to speed up the normal process. Thus, you will still need to review the material from time to time if you want to retain the information. The good news is that it is much easier to review material if it has a mnemonic attached to it.
Mnemonics are sometimes taught in the classroom, and sometimes the teacher provides actual associations that you can use. This is good for people who are untrained, but studies have shown that if you create your own associations, you will learn the material more quickly because it will be more meaningful to you.
Previously we learned how we can memorize the calendar for an entire year with just a 12-digit number. Here is a list of the secret numbers for various years.
Memorizing the calendar will allow you to amaze and impress your family and friends with seemingly impossible mental feats. It's actually quite easy to do with a little practice.
For each year that you want to memorize, all you need to do is remember a twelve-digit number. For the year 2005, that number is 26-63-15-37-42-64. Each digit in that number represents the first Sunday of the month. For example, the first Sunday in January is the 2nd. The first Sunday of February is the 6th, and so on.
Now, suppose someone asks you what day Christmas falls on in 2005. First, you retrieve the 12th digit of your secret number; this is 4. Now you know that the first Sunday is on the 4th. You also know that Christmas is 21 days later. Since a week has 7 days, you know that Christmas is exactly 3 weeks ahead and thus also falls on a Sunday. Let's try a harder example: July 21. The secret number for July is 3. There are 18 days between the 3rd and the 21st. That's 2 weeks and 4 days. Since adding a week takes you back to the same day, we only need to add 4 days to Sunday, which is Thursday. Tada!
All you need is an old calendar to construct the secret 12-digit number for that year. Now, you just need to memorize those 12 numbers. This is what the Phonetic Mnemonic System is great at. Using this system, the secret number listed above can be represented as "Notch, Gym, Tail, Hammock, Horn, Chair", which you could easily link together using the Link System. With a little practice, you could memorize several years and be able to calculate any date for those years with only a few seconds of thought.
Here is a little trick to help you remember how many days are in each month. Hold out your hands in front of you, palm down, and make a fist. Now, look at your knuckles and the valleys in between them. Start with the left most knuckle and call it January, the valley adjacent to it is February, the next knuckle is March and so on down to December which is the second to last knuckle on your right hand. The spot between your two hands does not count as a valley. Since each knuckle is a high spot, it represents 31 days. Each valley is a low spot and therefore represents 30 days. The only exception is February, which has 28 days (29 in a leap year). You probably know this, but you can remember it because February is the little valley next to your little finger, so it is the smallest.
Another way to remember the number of days in each month is with the following rhyme, which you have probably heard, but have probably not remembered.
Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November;
All the rest have thirty-one,
Except with February alone,
And that has twenty-eight days clear,
And twenty-nine in each leap year.