I would like to be able to remember every day that passes

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#1 23 February, 2012 - 10:38
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I would like to be able to remember every day that passes


Hi,

Three months ago I read about people who can remember every day of their lives going back to early childhood.

My memory is a bit of a fog, but this convinced me the brain has the capacity to remember a lifetime. So I decided to remember every day from that day on and to try to reclaim as many past days as I could.

I'm blogging about it. Here is my opening post:
http://lembransation.blogspot.com/2012/01/how-it-began.html

Three months in, I find it is not only possible, but it is getting easier.

There are also some postivie side effects. Both in terms of my memory in general and my relationships.

I'm also keeping an eye on research and media reports on memory and blogging about those - and have just come across this forum.

I look forward to exploring more.

All the best,

Lembran Sar

23 February, 2012 - 11:38
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I love this idea! I wrote about something similar in my blog a couple weeks ago. The idea was that I never remember what happened on my past birthdays. So I decided to live out the day and review it a number of times over the next week. The results so far have been pretty impressive. I remember that the 2nd of Feb was a Thursday and that I make my girlfriend 6 pancakes and that I took her to this place and that, what I got her, etc. Then the next two days I remember well up until my birthday the 4th, where I have been making a concerted effort to review and keep the details.

The thing is, how much detail is relevant to remember. I like your idea that just a few big memories should suffice, then the little details will follow. I never thought about actually picturing a mental calendar, but I want to do this. I'll give it a shot....

check out my blog post: http://climbformemory.com/2012/02/03/the-most-memorable-week/

23 February, 2012 - 13:41
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Thanks for taking a look. I've had a look at your blog too. I agree that review - or reconsolidation as I saw it called in one research paper - is key.

I'm going for one key image, or two at most, that catches the essence of the day. Other memories of the day do flow from this, but not everything.

Generally I find I can't remember what I ate or what was in the news, unless I specifically made a point to remember these details at the time.

I'm curious to see if my memories of each day do become more complete, which involves being confident my memory will function more effectively as I excercise it, rather than fill up!

24 February, 2012 - 05:44
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24 February, 2012 - 22:51
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Thanks for this. I wonder how the issue of creating false memories is addressed.

I'm facing a conundrum about false memory, which I'm asking about on this thread:
http://mt.artofmemory.com/forums/false-memory-and-bugs-bunny-1755.html

2 April, 2012 - 03:10
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This process of remembering every day that passes broke down about two weeks ago.

It seemed my mind was rebelling from remembering every day, perhaps as doing so reminds me of my mortality: http://lembransation.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/mind-rebelling.html

Perhaps forgetting is part of our survival mechanism.

Thinking this through overcame the obstacle: http://lembransation.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/back-on-track.html

Now I am over three months into the process and it seems to be sustainable and still improving my memory in other ways.

2 September, 2012 - 23:18
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I'm approaching the nine month mark in this process of remembering every day that passes (261 days so far) and all continues to go well.

I have had to adjust the techniques I use for refreshing my memory tags as they have accumulated.

The key is reviewing past days. Speed reading type techniques help me to run over the images I have pinned to my mental calendar.

As today is Monday, I will go over the images for the Saturday, Sunday and Monday of every week starting from when I began this process last December. This is much more effective than recalling just the tags for past Mondays looking backwards in time, as I used to too. That was sometimes too disjointed to be easy.

I also have a moving window of the past month, so in today's review when I reach 3 August, I refresh the images for each consecutive day to the present.

This fits into my waking up routine.

When travelling into work, I'll often try out some other exercises, like calling up the memory tag for the same day of each month (ie the 3rd of each month if I do this today). It is great feeling to be able to remember readily where I was and what I was doing as I think back. The perspective it gives me is often revealing.

Another recent development is I've become interested in the role of intermittent fasting on delaying the effects of ageing and, particularly, the way it prompts neuron growth. This was prompted by a documentary in the BBC Horizon series (Eat, Fast and Live Longer).

4 September, 2012 - 07:47
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Lembran Sar,

I have read a book about Jill Price, a woman who can remember it all. She can remember every day but says she is troubled by flash backs that just pop up in her mind. She has seen a doctor about it. This makes me think one might want to think twice about wanting to remember every day in one's life.

SL

11 September, 2012 - 23:53
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Lembran Sar wrote:

I'm approaching the nine month mark in this process of remembering every day that passes (261 days so far) and all continues to go well.

Wow... I'm really impressed...

My life is so hectic that I undergo time distortions, with sometimes the distinct feeling that what happened last week actually happened a month ago (I sometimes cram 3 or 4 days in one, by being physically at different locations and doing quite different things, so I have the feeling that one of these days can count for 3 or 4 days, if the different things I do at different places are disconnected enough).

Remembering just one week seems to me beyond my ability, but I'm just starting in this memory thing...

Maybe I'll change my mind in a couple of months...

Pierre

13 September, 2012 - 18:27
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A large undertaking with great results! I applaud the success you've had :)

14 September, 2012 - 12:40
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simon L. wrote:

Lembran Sar,

I have read a book about Jill Price, a woman who can remember it all. She can remember every day but says she is troubled by flash backs that just pop up in her mind. She has seen a doctor about it. This makes me think one might want to think twice about wanting to remember every day in one's life.

SL

Maybe I should read it!

I view this as an experiment so I will see if that starts to happen. At the moment this process of remembering is more willful.

In fact, I blogged a while ago about how I find I'm much less likely to be distracted by past memories popping into my mind, sometimes like the bad angel whispering in my ear.

http://lembransation.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/remembering-to-forget.html

14 September, 2012 - 12:52
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Quote:

Wow... I'm really impressed...

My life is so hectic that I undergo time distortions, with sometimes the distinct feeling that what happened last week actually happened a month ago (I sometimes cram 3 or 4 days in one, by being physically at different locations and doing quite different things, so I have the feeling that one of these days can count for 3 or 4 days, if the different things I do at different places are disconnected enough).

Remembering just one week seems to me beyond my ability, but I'm just starting in this memory thing...

Maybe I'll change my mind in a couple of months...

Pierre

The perspective I have from this process is one of the most fascinating things about it. Pulling up what I was doing on the same date each month looking back is often a revelation: some things seeming longer ago, others surprisingly recent.

How relentlessly time passes also strikes me, though I'm not sure if this is more so than before. I noticed two days ago how the leaves are starting to turn brown and fall is coming - so soon. There have always been markers to the passage of time.

I agree on some days being full. Generally I have one image pinned to my mental calendar to capture the essence of a day, but sometimes it takes three or four!

16 December, 2012 - 21:23
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And so a year ago today I began this process of remembering every day that passes.

I have images pinned to 366 days of my mental calendar, enabling me to recall key events as triggers for calling up each day.

From now on, I will know where I was and what I was doing a year ago.

There will be new challenges to retain and review this information, to avoid confusion between one year and another.

There will be new insights into how this perspective affects my life.

One thing: as Christmas approaches once more, I do not feel it has rushed around again.

So much has happened in the continuous sequence of days.

20 December, 2012 - 13:24
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Thanks for the update. It's a very interesting project.
How often are you reviewing at the moment?

I think that I read about one of the autobiographical memorizes who said that they are always doing things like jumping back from the current date So if today is December 20, 2012, they would go back and recall what happened on every December 20 that they could remember. I wonder if that would help.

I don't know if I would be disciplined enough to memorize every day into the future, but I'd really like to make a giant calendar of my entire life and try to fill in all of the events that happened to me in the past just to see how much I could recall with those triggers.

26 December, 2012 - 07:05
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Hi Lembran Sar,

I find your project highly interesting. What I was wondering about though, is how you form your mental calender. What does it look like? Is it a journey, broken up into months and weeks? How do you pin your key images of a given day to to the respective date on your calender?

26 December, 2012 - 10:55
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Josh Cohen wrote:

<...>

I think that I read about one of the autobiographical memorizes who said that they are always doing things like jumping back from the current date So if today is December 20, 2012, they would go back and recall what happened on every December 20 that they could remember. I wonder if that would help.

<...>.

I don't have the inherent ability to remember as people with hyperthymesia seem to have, so I review memory tags regularly for the period since I began this process over a year ago now.

From what I have read of people with hyperthymesia, most seem to have made a decision at a very young age to remember each day and claim they have power of recall without having to use memory techniques. I don't pretend to have that ability, but it would be nice if I find from this experiment that it can be developed later in life.

Certainly the images I have pinned to my mental calendar are now entrenched and adding each new day is not presenting a problem, but I am a little fearful that if I ease off on the reviews then gaps will begin to appear.

26 December, 2012 - 12:31
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Rompie wrote:

Hi Lembran Sar,

I find your project highly interesting. What I was wondering about though, is how you form your mental calender. What does it look like? Is it a journey, broken up into months and weeks? How do you pin your key images of a given day to to the respective date on your calender?

Hi Rompie,

The techniques I am using continue to develop with experience and as the number of days pile up. I'm keeping track on my blog about how the process evolves and have tagged entries specifically on the tecnhniques with "How I remember".

At this current stage, I carry out a review of the past dates as I wake and get up, sometimes using time during travelling into work or a run if need be.

As today is Wednesday, I recall the images for Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays for each week since the start of this process. At the outset, I just reviewed the same day of the week looking back, but have found the moving window technique helped as the volume of images built up and I started to get confused - often the image for a particular day comes to me by association with the surrounding days.

It is a lot of days to run through, but they are now entrenched and I hope that I will have the confidence soon to reduce the review frequency and still retain the past images. At the same time, the actual review process can be extremely quick - it tends to take longer when I become interested in a particular memory or the insight it gives me.

I pretty much visualise an actual calendar, as laid out on my laptop calendar, running Monday to Sunday, a screen per month, and have the sense of where the days are - so when the three-day window is Sunday - Tuesday, for example, it feels like my mind's eye jumps from the Sunday at the end of the week to the Monday at the beginning of the next line.

Recalling an image usual just takes place in an instant - and I've talked in the past of how I'm using speed reading techniques. As an example, today being Wednesday, my review begins on Monday 19 December 2011 - I think the date to myself and up flashes the image of sitting in my office with a couple of other people eating mince pies and custard. Then onto the next day, the landlady where I was staying opening a box containing a gift of flowers from her neighbours. The next day, entering a café with my parents. This can pass in three heartbeats.

There is often a sequence or theme to a particular week. These three images capture leaving the town where I work to go home to my parents for Christmas. They also enable me to open up each day - I remember sitting in the café, what we ate, taking my father off with me to buy a present so my mother could buy his, and so on. Sometimes it is delving into the detail that makes the review more time consuming, but also so enriching.

26 December, 2012 - 23:08
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Thanks for your explanation. I’ve also read quite a bit on your blog, which is very interesting. I am considering to try and to give it a go as well. Starting with just a month, instead of a year. Starting with baby steps is always good.

However, I’m not comfortable with the idea of using a mental calendar to store my associations. I’m surprised that you can manage to differentiate between the separate days, weeks and months. I think a journey/ palace/town would work better for me.

What came to mind last night is the following working hypothesis:

- Different themes for the months. I’ve travelled quite a lot, especially in winter, so I always associate January with being in Asian countries. I naturally associate August with summer/leisure activities, December is the archetypical winter/holiday month, etc. So all my Januaries could take place in Asian countries, all Augusts in settings like beaches, pop festivals, parks, etc. You could also have a movie month, a month at sports facilities, etc.
- The weeks can be differentiated by using four or five sections in the bigger month palace. I already have in mind four hotels that I recently visited in Uzbekistan that could together form my January 2013.
- The weekdays can either be inserted as images in the journey (e.g. a moon for Monday, a sun for Sunday. You could even use a different image for the second (and third and fourth) Monday of the month, for instance M&M’s for the second Monday, a church for the second Sunday, etc). Another option is to learn to calculate the Gregorian calendar, so weekdays can be calculated using math.
- The date can be integrated by using the P images of my PAO list. You can for instance combine a P image with the first key image of a given day.

In this way it could be possible to create a short story using a few images for each day, and place that story in a locus. Longer stories spanning several days or a week (over multiple loci) can arise organically. As long as there are markers for the dates, so the different days don’t become a blur.

Gotta run.

3 January, 2013 - 07:07
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Best wishes for your experiment, Rompie.

The calendar works well for me, but perhaps that's because part of what I wanted to get out of this process was gain perspective by becoming more aware of the passage of time.

So, for example, sometimes in an idle moment I will simply run through the same date in past months, covering a year in 12 images.

I'd be interested to hear how your method develops.

8 January, 2013 - 14:03
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So far so good! I’ve only been experimenting for 8 days now, as I began on Jan 1, so it’s too early for conclusions. I am doing it more or less as described in the post above. I selected a hotel in Uzbekistan as the stage for January 2013. I’m not gonna use different hotels for the separate weeks, which would be redundant.

For each day I insert some images in a certain area of the hotel creating a scene that brings up associations with the main events of the day. I also insert images for the day and the date, using different images for the different Mondays (eg a moon for the first Monday and MM’s for the second; a tank for the first Tuesday and a drum for the second). I’m basically still trying different things out along the way.

The biggest difficulty thus far is to restrict myself in the number of images I insert. I tend to get overexcited and insert many images, which would make it hard to manage after a while. It is fun to come up with simple images that capture the important things.

Every evening before falling asleep I walk through the scene of the day, trying to imprint it as thoroughly as possible. Most mornings I meditate for about 15 minutes. I now start my meditation by reviewing the images in the scene I created the day before. Further reviewing happens spontaneously throughout the day for now. I don’t really need a schedule for reviewing yet.

30 April, 2013 - 15:21
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It is the 500 days landmark today in this process of remembering every day that passes and it is still going strong.

In fact, I have added memory tags to my mental calendar for some of the earlier days. Which has led me to introduce a two-year window for my review of past tags as an experiment. I'm hoping that as days move outside the two-year window, they will be entrenched and so not lost if I stop reviewing them.

More thoughts about this on my blog post at:
http://lembransation.blogspot.com.br/2013/04/two-year-window.html

27 May, 2013 - 11:28
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Amazing project! :D
I really got inspired and will probably start doing this myself. What I already do is add special occasions to a personal deck in a flashcard program so that I review and remember those at least, but to also remember everyday life is certainly even cooler. Especially to be able to tell what you did at any given date.

6 August, 2013 - 09:20
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I recently started a thread about this idea (http://mt.artofmemory.com/forums/memorizing-your-life-story-daily-diary-...) and was linked to this thread here. I think one of the many impressive things is how Lembran Sar remembers to randomly pop in here every few months to add more to the discussion. I think that's an amazing testament to the system, and already a somewhat superhuman feat.

Mr. Sar -- I've started reading your blog now, and it's quite something.

8 August, 2013 - 01:12
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I am now 600 days into this process of remembering every day that passes.

It is still going well, without a day lost, but I have had to make a radical overhaul to the process of reviewing the images pinned to my mental calendar as memory tags.

As mentioned previously, I was passing a two-day window over every week of the past two-year period - including months before I began this process, where I had recovered some memories and added memory tags. Today being Thursday, I would recall the tags for every Wednesday and Thursday of the past two years (with some blanks for the period before I began consciously adding memory tags on 17 December 2011).

These reviews were taking too long and I simply burned out just over a month ago - 5 July 2013. I just couldn't focus on running through so many days. It was becoming increasingly difficult, particularly as sometimes I didn't complete the review and had to use a three-day window the next day over the weeks I had missed.

The process I have been following since then has been scaled back. I use a two-day window for the past 6 months. So today being 8 August, I thought back to 8 February (a Friday) and stepped back to 6 February (Wednesday) and then called up the images for every Wednesday and Thursday from then onwards until a month ago. From 8 July, I reviewed the images for every day until yesterday. That is my morning review. Before going to sleep, I will review the past month again and add the image for today at the end.

At some point during the day, I do a one-day-per-month review of the period from January 2011. Today is 8 August, so I will recall the images for the 8th of every month to the present day (for the months before I began this process, I may have only a generalised image for the month, rather than for the specific day). That's 32 images, so much more manageable.

I've had a few elusive images, but have found them all eventually. I'm hopeful that associations between days a month apart will begin to form and help me to remember them.

I'm not yet confident that I can remember past days without the regular reviews, as people with hyperthymesia appear to do. I sometimes have trouble remembering an image I have not thought of for a month, so fear they will fade to nothing without reviews.

As throughout this process, the days that give me most trouble are generally the most recent. Remembering the image I chose for Monday this week is harder than remembering the image for 8 August 2012 (watching the Olympic Games on a big screen in a park). I remember Monday vividly, but keep forgetting the particular image I had chosen for the memory tag, which is why I find the full review of the past month so necessary.

The cut-down reviews are easy to fit into my day and have returned this process to being a pleasure, when it was becoming a burden. The insight it gives me continues to make it worthwhile. It also serves a functional purpose as I have been incorporating information I want to remember into the memory tags, such as people's names and key details about places I've visited.

I've written recently on my blog about experimenting with the associations between images for consecutive days. Sometimes these arise as a natural consequence of life. For example, I visited the town where my bike was stored on 15 June, brought my bike home on 16 June and went for a long bike ride on 17 June. If I have trouble remembering any one of those days, the surrounding days remind me of my bike and so the image.

This is so useful, I am sometimes adding in details retrospectively. As an example, on 27 July I went on a group run in a park. On 28 July I went out for lunch with my parents. There was no association between the images, but on the run I ran past a lake and the restaurant we ate at the next day was also by a lake. So I've added the lakes to the images.

It is great to see the discussion here and on the other thread and read about other approaches.

I didn't know how long I would continue this process when I began at the end of 2011. There will come other crunch times as the days mount up and I still fear that an elusive image will be lost for good, but for now the review process has become easy to fit into my routine once more and it feels less like an experiment and more like something I just do.

8 August, 2013 - 11:50
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Thank you for coming back to talk about your experiences once again. Seems like this post confirms a lot of my summary post that I wrote about you on the other thread -- http://mt.artofmemory.com/forums/memorizing-your-life-story-daily-diary-... . Hope that's not too weird :)

Anyway, have any advice for people starting out? Ex. what to you makes a memorable image, any refinements you would consider if you started over, or any particular difficulties (outside of how much to review & the occasional mis-remembered name)?

10 August, 2013 - 04:40
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garoth wrote:

Anyway, have any advice for people starting out? Ex. what to you makes a memorable image, any refinements you would consider if you started over, or any particular difficulties (outside of how much to review & the occasional mis-remembered name)?

These are interesting questions. I've written a lot about the process I've been following and how this has changed over time on my blog and tagged the entries with How I remember.

The way I began is very different to what I do now and I wonder whether the learning process is as important as using the more refined methods I've alighted upon, which will not doubt change as the days, months and years pile up.

Maybe it is necessary for others wanting to do the same to go through this progression. Maybe not.

I suppose my advice to others would be do what works for you and be prepared to adapt. If my experiences help, then I'd be interested to hear it.

Some people have commented here and on your thread about using other memorisation methods, which I don't think would work for me, so each to their own. I'd be interested to hear how those work and adapt over time.

I like actual images - like a photograph of the event or a sequence of images - and place it on a mental calendar. An image can ecapuslate a great deal. As I mentioned above with the story of the lakes, I've started to engineer such associations retrospectively. That is also on my blog here:
http://lembransation.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/the-lakes.html

It is at the end of the day when I construct the image, after running through the past month once more. I look for something that contains one or more key things that I want to remember and will help trigger my recollection of the day as a whole and, when possible, will link with surrounding days.

Yesterday I had a business meeting in the morning and met a friend in the afternoon. So I have two images - and the fact there are two is something I also also remember - I have a sense of incompleteness if I remember only one. In the first case, I am using mnemonic to remember the persons actual name and I am trying to capture her face, visualising where we were sitting. With my friend, we visited various places, so my image is sitting having a drink outside a bar, with the echo of the walk through the park to reach it. In the image, I am checking the time and I am conscious we need to leave if we are to catch a movie (one of the things I choose to remember is when I saw a particular movie). Recalling either of the images brings up the specifics as well as more generally reminds me of the day, how I travelled from one situation to the other, what I thought of the film, what we did afterwards etc.

I am repeatedly amazed at how powerful this is. I set my journal aside when I began this process as I decided not to write things down to help me remember. Now I've been catching up with it. I'm currently writing the entries for August 2012, recalling what I was doing and my reflections a year ago, day by day, much as if I was writing it at the time.

10 August, 2013 - 12:00
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Thank you very much for your patience and wisdom. I think I'm just about ready to start and will post back later if it goes well :)

1 September, 2013 - 11:46
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This is amazing! I can't fathom remembering every single day for the past 2 years. I just recently managed to memorize my 0-99 Major System words and was feeling cocky about it.
I can barely remember what happened last week, and after that it's basically gone. I remember highlights only. I think this is normal for most people. But when I started thinking about it, the whole idea is really frightening. If a person can't remember what they said, did, or were thinking about just a week or a month ago, how is it possible to make decisions? Do we just sort of plod along, with a general idea of what we are trying to accomplish, maybe focusing on one thing or the other and retaining that but losing everything else?
When I talk to people about this they tend to agree but seem to think there's nothing one can do about it.

I have started 'logging' into Evernote what I do and what happened every day. I try to do it daily but sometimes get too busy. I can remember pretty much everything for the previous 2-3 days with the 3rd day being hazy. I have been doing this for about 2 months. It's pretty tedious and my girlfriend doesn't think much of it. I did find a much faster way, I bought Dragon Naturally Speaking and put on a headset and just blab away ignoring whether or not it understood exactly what i said.
Maybe if I'm ever able to get through the Major System, PAO, and whatever lays beyond that, I will try actually remembering my days along with logging. Then if I lose a day or think I have it wrong I can look back and check.

1 September, 2013 - 13:55
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Yes, that Evernote software's pretty nice. I have some 2200 personal notes in there as well (not all diary ones). Anyway, I pretty much just agree -- doing the same thing wrt on-paper logging, still not quite made it to starting the daily memorization project (have a few other memorization projects on the go).

Anyway, just as a thought experiment, I wonder what changes could be made to Evernote to make it more useful for memory reintegration, rather than just dumping things there and forgetting about them. Maybe some kind of Anki-like system for a notebook that makes you do review of each note with increasing intervals? I should probably start a different thread, though I wonder how many or few Evernote users there are around.

5 September, 2013 - 13:13
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I'd be interested to find out if writing things down is a help or a hinderance to those trying this approach.

I made a decision at the outset not to write things down because I thought that record might replace my memory rather than enhance it. Although I've struggled a few times to recall the images I have pinned to my mental calendar as memory tags for each day, I've not lost one. It can sometimes take hours to actually recover the image by calling up surrounding days - giving up seeking in the end so my subconscious throws it up works when all else fails. So far, they have always been found.

As I've written on my blog, I get a buzz when I finally do recall an elusive image and so I've tried not to worry when they are elusive. Instead, I anticipate that a buzz will be coming when it finally emerges from the gloom.

My theory is that having the option of consulting a written record would somehow make me complacent and that resorting to the record would not strengthen my recall skills, but weaken them.

That said, I am now catching up with my diary, just in case this system does finally fall down. However, the daily entries I am writing when I can fit this in are for 12 months ago.

9 September, 2013 - 10:35
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I believe that you are absolutely correct. Using a written log is a crutch. If your intention is to perfect a method of recalling each day as perfectly as possible using your mind alone, writing it down kind of defeats the purpose. Like saying you are going to live off the land in the wilderness for a week but then when things don't go your way just walking up to the camera crew to get a drink of water and a Snickers.
But if you look at it from the standpoint of an experiment than that would be very interesting. They say that the mind goes back and changes memories. If so you would be able to locate those changes, maybe see if they are related to the amount of time that is passed or the emotional intensity of the memory. Eventually you could incorporate that knowledge into your method to try and prevent the brain from rewriting history.
I think at this point since you have spent so much time on your method there is less danger of of losing your skill. Maybe you could alternate months when you write down as much as you can, and other months when you write down nothing. This would force you to retain your skill. If memories had been altered you would know. If there was a pattern to changing memories you would still be able to recognize it.

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