A Few Beginner's Questions

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#1 7 April, 2017 - 22:26
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A Few Beginner's Questions


Hi everyone!

I just recently started working to train my memory in earnest again recently, and have been setting up a journey throughout my apartment. I've got 40 points now, and have been practicing them by doing timed random work recall. I'm at 25 words in 5 minutes right now. I want to get faster, but I've been running into since I started doing 25 in the last couple days. I've gotten everything right when I first try it early on in the day, but when I try it again later on, I inevitably miss some. I know reusing a journey too soon will inevitably create difficulties, but I do usually try to wait several hours between trying different lists. In your experience, is this too short a time period in which to reuse a journey, and the issue is likely one of reuse?

Another issue arises from time to time and I'm not sure if it's my choice of loci, the scale, or what. There are several points which are items hung on walls, pictures, decorations, fuse boxes and the like. Sometimes these seem a little harder to attach images to than larger items like desks, sinks, or beds. Would I be better served by making the locus a larger area and not so specific an item, at least at this very early point in my memory training?

And when it comes to placing images at loci, I've been working to imagine them specifically interacting with that location, someone digging a hole in a bed to remember dig or someone tearing an lamp out of another person's hands for wrest. In your experiences, does this help recall all that much, or am I spending more time than necessary to specifically attach them to the locus, rather than simply imagining them AT that locus.

I very much want to become as fast as I can at imagining and placing images, and I'm hoping I can benefit from the great stored wisdom of the people here. I may simply be impatient about improving and need to give myself more time. It's just hard not to get excited about this stuff and wanting to accomplish as much as I can as quickly as I can!

Thank you so much!

Chris

8 April, 2017 - 00:13
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The time you need for reusing palaces os up to you, not us. Some can do with a few hours, others need a few days. Go with what works for you.

You can make the loci larger or just zoom in. As long as you manage to make the image you want to remember really interact with the locus. Interaction makes it way easier.

9 April, 2017 - 15:35
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Thanks for the words of wisdom, Mayarra! My uneducated guess is that for a beginner, larger loci might be easier to imagine interacting with, since the extra step of doing a crash zoom into a locus could prove disorienting in a minor way. I might see if I can make some of the more troublesome loci more macro, at least at first, then gradually subdivide them into smaller ones as I go.

From what I've seen others talk about here on the forums, I think I should invest some time into making visual cues for common prefixes and suffixes. I'm curious; when you come up against a word you don't know, or have trouble visualizing, do you invest time after the fact in creating and remembering a recognizable image for that so the next time, it won't cause such a slowdown? Some images come easy and I can remember each time, but I was wondering if you invest much time in creating and remembering established imagery, or always go off the cuff.

Thanks for all your help!

10 April, 2017 - 01:47
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it depends on the setting.
If I have enough time to create a good image, I sit down and make a good one. If I don't have the time, like in competition, I go with the first decent one that comes to mind. Afterwards I do always try to expand the database of images in my head

13 April, 2017 - 20:57
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Thanks very much! Out of curiosity, how fast do you tend to be in this event, and are there any more particular techniques that can improve it beyond what we've been talking about? I remember reading about people doing two words per loci, which I've just started doing. I admit I'm still struggling with it a little, and I don't know that it's made me faster yet, but that's what you get with only two days of practice! Probably that on top of reconfiguring my loci a little to make them easier to interact with is throwing a little bit of a wrench into the works.

In practicing visualizing images on the spot, do you find that in early stages, it's helpful or detrimental to try and be fast about it. In your opinion, is it better to just do the visualizing for a while without the timer, to build up the visualization portions of the brain into fighting shape before attempting to make them run laps? Sometimes I think I'm just in too much of a hurry and that it's to my own detriment in the end.

14 April, 2017 - 02:46
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Let me share my noob experience. I do three images per loci when doing random words. You said you do two and you find it harder than one per loci. Are you letting them interact?

I found that if I put three images together and I make some story with it, it becomes easier to recall. At first I would just put one image in a loci doing nothing but that is not very memorable. Making a little story out of it makes it more memorable. I must say that it took me a while to get the order of the images correct. But after practising a while with these mini stories I have no problem with that anymore.

I am also curious if a more experieced member could tell something about speed. Often when learning a sport it can help to go very slow to do the technique properly. But at other times it would be more beneficial to get out of your comfort zone. I now do both. I practice without timer toward a target number (eg 40 or 60 words) and other times I time myself (15 minutes).

14 April, 2017 - 15:33
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Since I've been mucking about with my loci, it's somewhat hard for me to tell whether any difficulty is due to that or to putting in more loci. I'm still fumbling about, I think, with the size of loci and trying to fit in actions and memorable images at them, and to have them interact with the loci. I've been working to either create the image of the first loci, then have the image for the second come afterwards to interact, OR to try to imagine the first word as a figure or noun, and the second be represented by an action or verb, similarly to how PAO works, though needing to do it on the spot, rather than recall a mnemonic. It may be trying to do all these changes around the same time that's mucking me up. Do you tend to picture all the images at once at the locus, or sequentially?

That does seem to be a constant in every learning endeavor I've made, and one I probably should have thought about sooner. It's often good, at least with physical activities to go slowly and carefully, which helps to work in muscle memory, otherwise the movements end up being done fast, but improperly. This may be what's happening with some of my images. I'm trying to create them too quickly and shoddily because I subconsciously feel rushed. Generally, the greater the foundation is carefully built up, the greater the potential for effective, speedy performance later. It's held true in many of my learning experiences, and I'd imagine the same would apply to memory learning, but I do want to defer to more experienced folk for their opinions and expertise.

Thanks very much for the input! I'll keep working at it and maybe try your method of doing a bit of both. That sounds like a good way to keep things moving, while creating a good, relaxed foundation.

15 April, 2017 - 06:15
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I do regular practice like you. I made more palaces. I use a palace not more than once per week. Maybe that will help.

Another thing that helps me is making a list of difficult words. For example obedience is a stormtrooper or whatever works for you.

Furthermore I would read the list several times. First I go through it and think of images. Second I put the images in the palace. Third a review. This is much slower than how the experienced members do it. But like you said more speed is difficult.

16 April, 2017 - 16:01
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What I'm trying to start doing now is doing a bit of both: timed and untimed. Hopefully the combination of building a good image-creating foundation at an untimed pace will gradually help me get faster, and timing myself will keep me pushing myself as well as not ever improving, speed-wise. Time will tell, but a mix of foundation and freeform has served me well in other areas of my life.

The untimed practice has given me more opportunity to think about a good image for words, which I can only really ponder for a good amount of time AFTER timed practice. I'm hoping that I can come up with good images for words and recall them fairly well as I practice and the same or similar words come up again.

I do wonder if I might not end up in a big loop where I'm creating palaces and storing images of words IN the palace so I don't lose them and can review them at leisure later. This might be overcomplicated though. I'm curious if you and others do this in order to establish specific images for words, or if it's more about relying on association upon seeing the word. I'd like to have some good established images for a lot of words, which I imagine could save a good amount of time down the road, but I'd imagine you can only go so far with it before it leads to trying to memorize a dictionary or something.

17 April, 2017 - 12:26
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For automating information I use flashcards. I do not store my list of images in a memory palace. Maybe others do. Check out Quizlet or others flashcard apps.

For speed training you could do the memory league. I just started with it a few days ago and it has a very good interface. It was much faster than I was used to, one minute. I like it a lot.

17 April, 2017 - 22:36
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I already use Anki for language learning and had thought that it might come in handy for this sort of thing. Good to know that it works for you!

I did just do the free trial of Memory League and the system seemed nicely set up and customizable. And for a whole year, the price doesn't seem bad at all!

Another point of curiosity, do you try to establish images of a word as a verb and as a noun for versatility's sake? Double the work, I'd imagine but might serve well for unique combinations. And do you typically imagine a particular person on creature carrying out each word? I find that a lot of times, unless an obvious connection comes up, it tends to be a sort of ambiguous figure with no particular identity, which might make for a less striking image than a particular person or thing.

18 April, 2017 - 06:06
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Spelling is indeed a challenge. Verb/noun, tenses, plural etc. I try to stick with something and make variations. For to do I used Britney Spears (Oops I did it again). Different outfits could than have different meanings (do, did, doing etc). For verb/noun differences I do sort of the same. I said I use a stormtrooper for obedience. So for "to obey" I would do something with the stormtrooper. (I am not a native speaker so that is an extra challenge).

Slowly I start to develop certain habits. For example for the prefix re- I use Rihanna. This morning I had requirements. So I did Rihanna teaching a choir. In recall I did miss the s at the end though.

I had the same problem with persons. I had some anonymous person doing something, but that does not seem to work well. So I introduced NPC's (collegue's). My collegue's will be doing things with the object. When an NPC does something the person itself has no meaning. But when Rihanna for example is part of the scene than she will add meaning. This is a funny thing about visual thinking. When you add more information it can become easier to memorize. Some person shooting a gun is more difficult for me than a specific person shooting the gun. But the latter has more information.

18 April, 2017 - 22:15
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So I'm thinking that when I encounter a word, maybe I'll try to come up with a particular image/person/thing to associate for the root of the word, ie. climbing/climber/climes root is climb, then create images or modifiers for common prefixes and suffixes. I have some that I already use, in order to help figure out the tense of a word. So say if I picture Sylvester Stallone from Cliffhanger for climb, and the word is climbing, I'll think of Sylvester Stallone getting splashed with ink, which is my indicator that the word has an -ing at the end of it. Basically you're doing the same thing with requirement.

What I'm trying to figure out is how far to take it, since deconstructing all words could end up being more trouble than it's worth. If I have two different but powerful images for climb and climbing, then I should probably just have those two different images in my head and forgo adding a modifying, since I imagine having a single strong image is easier to remember than having to modify them with multiple images. It may be that images for common prefixes and suffixes will come in handy more when I encounter a word I don't have an image for, but can't think of a powerful image on the spot. Time will probably tell more than anything how this will work.

I think you're onto a good idea there. Maybe I'll just pick a person/character or two to always picture as a neutral figure, so I have something to place there, but also know that they're not essential to the image's meaning.

When having established images (let's take your stormtrooper for example), is the image only the stormtrooper itself, or do you picture them doing something, perhaps something that communicates obedience, like bowing, to doubly strike home what the image means. Or do you think that would be too constricting and make it more difficult for the image to interact with the locus at which you place it?

20 April, 2017 - 06:25
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Thanks for the reply. Helps me to focus the ideas. What you said is what I was thinking. You have root images and suffixes. I am also wondering how far to take this. It depends on the goal. Proper spelling is important in competitions like the memory league. But often spelling is not an issue. For example when you want to learn for an exam. The meaning and the concepts are your focus and not spelling.

Furthermore adding to the images takes time. When you do timed practice you often have very little time. The one minute on the memory league is very challenging for me. I hope to get faster with practice.

I try to avoid static images. I group some images together in a loci (three). And I let them do something. This helps me remember. Doing something with the loci helps to. The action often does not double the information but I try to connect them to the next word. If I have obey, hit, girl. The story is obvious. But sometimes it is quite diffcult to come up with some sequence or action. But this is also what I like about the random words exercise. It forces you to be creative.

20 April, 2017 - 12:14
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Absolutely! I'm glad to talk about this stuff and try to find better ways to learn and practice, and discussing it definitely helps solidify things and brings up questions and issues that I didn't even know needed addressing.

That's true, I suppose most of my image work assumes spelling, but it can become difficult with homonyms like there and they're, if I don't already have an image for one, the other or both. I imagine it's even more tricky when you're not a native speaker of the language.

It's definitely proven true for me that the more images you have to connect, the more time creating a memorable image tends to take. Because of this, I think I'd prefer to have to use as few modifiers as possible when creating established images.

This brings me to another point which might be too ambitious. I love the Person-Action-Object system for numerical memorization because of it's economy. Using a standard Major System setup, you can represent six digits with a single image of a certain person, doing a certain action, to a certain object. Ideally this sort of image efficiency would be great to establish with words as well, but whereas you really only need 100 or so image sets with numbers, it can go on nigh-infinitely with words. It would be fantastic if I could apply the PAO system to words, but that might prove a Sisyphian task. I have no idea if anyone actually does this or if it's at all effective.

I guess the general theme is that the fewer pieces needed to communicate a single word visually, the quicker it is to formulate, and the easier to remember it is? Although simplifying too much might make the images less interesting, I don't know. What do you think?

20 April, 2017 - 13:51
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You can certainly encode words to numbers using a system like the Major System. Simply assign every two-digit number from 01-26 to each letter. Then, a word like CAT becomes 030120. Then you could use your PAO to remember that number, then during recall you'd decode those images into the digits and then into the letters. If the first three letters of each word would be enough to trigger the appropriate word in your mind, it would work fine. If not, you'd have to encode more letters. For six-letter words, you could use two of your combo-PAO images instead of just the one you'd use for a 3-letter word.

You could make that process more efficient by directly encoding each letter into an image, by having an image assigned direclty to each of the 26 letters. Then you'd save a step by not having to encode/decode the letters into numbers.

I don't know anyone who uses this method though. Most of us use an image created on the spot to remind us of the word. I put two words, and thus two images, on each locus, and try to have them interact in some fashion. I'm not super-fast like Katie Kermode or Alex Mullen, but I've done 31 words in 1 minute, and I can do 80-90 in 5 minutes on a good day.

20 April, 2017 - 15:05
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I hadn't thought of it in those terms, but that's a very interesting proposition, and a better idea, I think, than what I'd proposed. Hearing that no one really does it that way though, seems probably indicative of its whole lot of effort for probably no real added efficiency.

Do you tend to have many pre-established images for words, or is it mostly improvised for you? Maybe some for more difficult words like pronouns or connectives like "although" or "however"? I feel like I've been sort of stuck at around 20-30 words in five minutes when I've been practicing, but part of it could be me psyching myself out and being uncertain about what generally tends to be the best method. Maybe I just need to practice more, so my improvisational image creation gets better rather than focusing too much on establishing images. I'd be very grateful for any further input you might have, and thanks very much for your reply here!

21 April, 2017 - 07:56
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I don't really have many pre-established images for words. There are just TOO MANY WORDS. I remember reading that the average English-speaker has a vocabulary of 20,000-30,000 words. It's easy to create images for a 00-99 number system, and tough but doable to create them for a 000-999 system, but that's still just 1,000 images. You really do improve your speed with practice. You can practice translating words into images without memorizing them to increase your skill at doing this. Take a list of words (you can get lists on this very site), and just practice forming those images. Then try to make each pair of images interact in some way. Don't get fancy, just go with the first thing that pops into your head.

21 April, 2017 - 09:53
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I hadn't really thought of just practicing making images out of words outside of the context of attaching them to a locus, but that does sound like doing it in a vacuum, with no other pressures imposing could be a good way to improve at that.

When you are linking pairs of words together, do you tend to look at one, form an image, look at the second, form an image, then imagine them interacting? That's what I've tended to do, but I'm wondering if maybe it isn't too clunky. Would it be better to look at both words simultaneously? Does that tend to foster better, quicker story image creation? Do you ever combine two words into a single image? Although it might account for economy of space, I could see where that might make the order of the two words confusing.

Thanks again for your input and your help!

21 April, 2017 - 14:03
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In the beginning, yeah, I looked at a word, formed the image, looked at the second word, formed the image, and then imagined an interaction. As you get faster, you'll be able to form both images almost simultaneously. Obviously, this ability will vary a lot based on how difficult it is to turn the word into an image. For example, on Memory League, you'll get words like "boat" and "elephant", and then you'll get words like "ephemeral" and "nonchalant". Those intangible words can be tough to deal with, and that's what slows me down a lot (or causes me to forget the word altogether during recall). I do find that when I do "blank" on a locus, I almost always forget both images. If I can remember one image, I almost always remember the other, and that's the power of making the images interact.

It's important to keep the sequence straight in your head, though, so I usually go left-to-right (or top-to-bottom). But constant practice WILL improve your recall ability and speed. Look me up on Memory League and we can play some Word matches.

22 April, 2017 - 02:18
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That definitely seems to be the way it's largely been going for me, but it's good to know that it really is mostly a matter of time, persistence, and patience. I always tend to try to do too much too fast, and set up unattainably high expectations for myself right off the bat, so I just need to slow down be more deliberate, I think. I still like the idea of potentially having at least some preestablished images in my head, if for nothing else, to make some prefixes and suffixes easier, and maybe to help with more difficult words, like those you've mentioned. It seems like conjunctions like "therefore," "however," and whatnot always seem to throw a wrench in things. Even if I don't study them every day, having some for difficult, fairly common words might come in handy.

There have definitely been situations where if I can't remember one, I can't remember both. I guess I should probably focus on raw image creation and interaction between multiple words, then work on making them also interact with loci. Take the time and build up a good foundation. It's been tricky trying to get in good memory training recently because I started a new job a week or two ago that's been taking up a lot of time and energy. More so than many activities, doing mental training becomes quite a bit more difficult after the work day, when my mind and body just want to wind down. And yet I'm not a morning person, so I'm not sure doing them before work would serve me much better, hahah. Still working out my schedule, so hopefully I'll be able to adjust and be better about it soon.

I'll have to join Memory League proper. The trial was a lot of fun, and it would be great to do it with others, which I'm sure would be of great help!

22 April, 2017 - 16:00
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The advice of just making images out of words without memorization seems to work very well. Placing the images and recalling them is less of a problem. The most important thing for me is the conversion of the words to images. Beside list of random words I also started with texts. I converted some news articles to images.

Like ninja I like the idea of having some words memorized. It is like learning a new language I think. Some of the words you learn from a list and others you pick up while reading and listening.

24 April, 2017 - 14:00
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It's definitely helped me practice just sort of everywhere and anywhere that I am, because it's very spontaneous and there's no worry about timing or anything, so that's sort of streamlined image practice on a basic level that I like. Still trying to figure out if it's a net benefit or cost for me to specifically make images interact with loci or if it's enough to just have them at the loci.

Right now, I'm kind of running it like if I have trouble coming up with an image on the spot for something fairly quickly, I'll make a note of it, and come up with one so I can more easily remember it in the future. That way it's not systematic trying to create and establish images for every word imaginable, but at least for the ones that give me particular trouble.

Another thing I'm curious about has come up while I'm working to create a new journey at my job. Generally, I try to maintain a particular method of getting through a journey, going around rooms/loci from left to right and up to down, but at my job, there are several rooms that have more than one path out of them, so I'm curious what you folks' protocol is in cases like these. Do you imagine circling the loci in the room, then looping back around to a door into the next one? And how about things in the middle of the room, like a table, that would require cutting across from one side of the room to the other. As usual, I'm probably overcomplicating a matter that really comes down to "do whatever works best for you," but I'm curious how others approach it.

Thanks as always, memory warriors!

25 April, 2017 - 13:31
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Like you I am figuring out how to place images in loci. If I spend enough time. Interacting with the loci, reviewing creating funny interactions etc then I will remember. But I want to know what is the least amount of effort I can put in and still remember. Where can you save time?

25 April, 2017 - 18:07
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You have to pick a route, then ALWAYS use the same route. I tend to go clockwise around a room, but sometimes the layout of a room or area lends itself to a different path. The key is to go the same way every time, using the same loci. Once you review the path in your head a few times, then use it to memorize some things, you'll probably have the path cemented in your mind. I do find that having the images interact with the loci makes them stickier and easier to remember, but some people seem to have no problem just placing the images on the locus and going on. Some of the elite athletes, who can memorize a deck of cards in less than 30 seconds, often describe the process as just "feeling the essence" of the image as they fly through the 52 cards.

25 April, 2017 - 20:37
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I gotcha. Yeah, I figured route consistency is key, though I admit that I have each room as a chunk of five loci, and sometimes review the rooms out of order or backwards, just to keep myself on my mental toes, but the sequence between loci never changes. Maybe I'll break from necessarily going around the rim of rooms and interact with objects in the center, just as long as I make sure and cement that particular path.

Maybe it's the case that (generally) having images interact with loci makes recall easier when starting out, but as we progress and improve it will become less necessary, until you reach the point of those professionals you've quoted. I've definitely noticed that interaction improves recall for me, though it does slow down raw speed. It may be another instance of a good basic to ground in, which can potentially be bypassed later after a strong foundation is set.

25 April, 2017 - 21:25
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I started doing random words a few days ago and my goal is to reach a pb of 24 in one minute words by the end of the week (24 is level 9 in ML, current pb is 20).

Currently, I can create images for 16-20 words in thirty seconds, but I have to review and my recall isn't usually great even with the review. I tried making images slower but it doesn't really seem to help me nearly as much as review. How do you guys approach words and what are your suggestions on practicing?

26 April, 2017 - 06:47
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Wow, Grandzam you're making great progress. Look me up on Memory League sometime and I'll play some Words matches with you. I find that review helps me a lot, too, but it's difficult to review all of them if you're trying to do a lot of words in just 1 minute. During the longer 5 minute discipline, I definitely review at least once, sometimes forwards, sometimes backwards, but the 1-minute speed matches of Memory League don't leave much time for review. There are some folks who have done all 50 words in less than the full 60 seconds. Maybe some of those athletes will chime in and give some advice.

26 April, 2017 - 10:37
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Thanks, although 24 by the end of the week is increasingly looking like a tall order tbh. In review I try I speed through my images as fast as possible, a little under 2 secs per two words and trying to get even faster (2/L). Right now, I'm thinking I could practice by encoding and reviewing a smaller number than usual e.g 14-16 and then encoding as many words afterwards as possible with no review.

Here's another issue I would like help with. The strategy of grabbing four words at the end in working memory is extremely effective and is valuable in helping me reach higher levels. However, my problem is I either have to glance at the clock too often, or I run out of time before grabbing or allocate too much time. Have you found a good way of dealing with this?

28 April, 2017 - 15:59
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I'm hovering right on 15 words in a minute myself. It definitely seems that it's upped my image creation speed, although I admit that some of the images probably aren't the best I could come up with, given more time. But I suppose that's the price paid for increased speed, though hopefully that too improves to some degree over time. I admit I do the end word grab too, though I always feel kind of guilty about it because I'm not truly using loci or images in the same way to memorize them, so I'm split over whether I should do that regularly or not, but that's a personal qualm more than anything. At the speed I'm going right now, I have no time for review in the time limit unless I resign myself to remembering fewer words, which I haven't done quite yet. My problem with the clock is that my curiosity eventually tends to get the better of me. I think it often happens when I hit a difficult word, and I instinctively want to know how much time I have left to try and come up with a good image. It doesn't really help to know, and sort of throws me off, so it's something I think I need to train out of myself.

28 April, 2017 - 21:00
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Reviewing for me is just going through the list again really fast. I find this increases my recall much more then puzzling over the creation of difficult images although my images are often really bad as a result. I'm creating a list of images for every hard word I come across in random words so hopefully that will have some good long term benefits.

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