How to Remember Things with a Mnemonic Object

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The "mnemonic object" method is based on the Von Restorff Effect, which says that items that stand out are more easily remembered. By placing a familiar object in an unfamiliar context, you can intentionally trigger the recall of a memory when that out-of-place object is seen again.

The Mnemonic Beanbag

Andi Bell's Memory Pack contains a "mnemonic beanbag" that is designed to be placed in an unexpected location where it will trigger a memory:

To use the beanbag you think of something you have to do in the future, and then throw the beanbag across the room where you will stumble across it later. When you see the beanbag out of place, you will remember the thing that you have to do. Another example of the technique is thinking of something you have to do the next day while laying in bed about to fall asleep. You could throw a pen across the room, and when you saw the pen in the morning out of place it would remind you of that task when you woke up next morning.

The Red Thumbnail

The Red Thumbnail involves painting a thumbnail red to remind one not to text and drive. See this video for more information. The basic concept could probably be applied to other things too.

Other Ideas

The mnemonic object could be anything that stands out. Here are some ideas:

  • clothespins clipped to things
  • tape that covers up something that you will need to uncover
  • patterns of coins arranged on your desk
  • placing your phone or other familiar object in a new place
  • paper that is folded in an unusual way and then placed where you will find it
  • (add more ideas here)