How to best spend my time?

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#1 19 April, 2014 - 12:25
Joined: 3 years 7 months ago

How to best spend my time?

Hi there,
I'm just getting started in Mnemonics. I keep hearing that anyone can do this and that it only takes a few minutes a day to build up my memory skills. I'm currently doing a 5 minute random word challenge 3-4 times a day where I use the random word generator here on Mnemotechnics and remember as many words as I can in a 5 minute time using the journey method. Right now the 20 minutes are split up throughout the day, but I could adjust that to a contiguous block of time if there is a benefit to doing so.

I would like to get faster at words and also get into numbers and cards in the near future. I'm mostly looking for some direction on how to best spend my time to improve the fastest.

I have 2 questions:

What can be accomplished in 20 purposeful minutes a day are spent on memory?


What is the best way for me to use this time? What exercises are best for building up my skills the fastest?


19 April, 2014 - 20:29
Joined: 4 years 11 months ago

I recommend dividing your practice pretty evenly among the things you want to improve at. With just a few minutes of training, you can learn a lot. So if you train each event every day, you can improve quite a bit over all even with a small amount of time devoted to each discipline.

20 April, 2014 - 04:41
Joined: 5 years 1 month ago

I think the thing to do is devote some time to daily research first and figure out the kinds of techniques that appeal to you. Memory Palaces are fantastic, which is the example I'll use, but not everyone's cup of chai.

If you do dig on Memory Palaces, then I would suggest understanding how they work and build ten or so, developing familiarity with them as you go and making sure you've got each station in each Memory Palace fixed in your mind (nothing to it if you're using places you're deeply familiar with).

Then, after learning about exaggerated imagery and action and so forth, determine the information you want to remember and strategize in advance how you want to lay this stuff out in your Memory Palaces.

After that, you are going to have such force and power because of the groundwork you've completed, you'll be sailing almost on autopilot. The 20 minutes a day will be maximized beyond belief.

All of the above applies to any technique you want to use. Research + exploration + preparation + experimentation = results.

21 April, 2014 - 17:41
Joined: 3 years 7 months ago

LociInTheSky and metivier:

Thank you both for some excellent suggestions.

I'll start dedicating a few minutes a day to numbers and cards in addition to random words.

I made a initial list of 28 potential memory palaces. I have not gone through all of them in detail to map out every single location, but I'm going to do that with 10 as was suggested.

At this point, I can do 10-13 words in 5 minutes and I've done 20 words in 10 minutes. I'm trying to get faster, but that's where I'm at now.

Thanks a lot for the feedback and any further suggestions are appreciated.


23 April, 2014 - 09:53
Joined: 3 years 7 months ago

Yesterday I tried to focus more on speed. In an effort to get through the words faster, I created an image with 2 words at a time instead of 1.

I got 20 random words in correct order in 9:16. I also got 18/20 correct in 7:02 which is promising.

Any tips on increasing my speed? It sometimes takes me too long to formulate an image.

Also, this morning it took me 20:10 to get 30 random words in correct order, but it was in a busy doctor's office so there were many distractions.

Is it good to spend some of my time practicing amid distractions?

Thanks to all,


23 April, 2014 - 14:20
Joined: 4 years 11 months ago

I have made a lot of progress in the past few weeks in multiple disciplines, much more than I usually do and breaking some records that have stood for months, by practicing each discipline that I want to improve at twice, no more and no less, per day. Timer, recall, the whole deal just as if it were a competition. The first run, I attempt to get a higher score than I ever have. At your level, I would suggest 25 in 10 minutes. You probably won't get it at first, but eventually you will. Then on the second run, I try to get the best score that I think I could, like if I were in a competition. Not stretching limits there, but trying to be consistent and use the skills I have gained effectively. Over time, both of these numbers will increase.

But all competitions have times events, and for words the only disciplines that exist are 5 minute and 15 minute words, so I would practice those events or pick the one that you like better. You could continue with 10 and 20 minute words but if you look up world records and top scores you will find that different people hold the world records for the same events with different time limits. Simon Reinhard is the speed card record holder with 21 seconds, and he's been the world record holder in that event for years, so you might naturally assume that he would be top in the hour cards world rankings, but he's actually 11th place. A lot of this has to do with the pacing of memorization versus review (lots of people use about 60% of the time for memory and then 40% of the time for review for many things, but you have to discover what works best for you with trial and error) and that can change with the time limit because you don't actually expect to memorize twice as much in 20 minutes as you could in 10 minutes, so the whole pace changes. Thus, you gain certain skills for events of certain time limits that don't carry over to different time limits of the same events.

Brad Zupp recommends practicing among distractions sometimes. I don't, and in competition my scores usually fall a whole lot. But it isn't actually noise and stuff for me, it's just pressure, a cell phone went off during Names and Faces, and I didn't even hear/notice it. But another member of these forums told me that at the USAMC this year he was distracted by every little thing - a judge pacing back and forth right in front of him, a photographer knocking his foot with a tripod during random numbers (lmao)!

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