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Can you memorize 7 random items in 4 seconds?

Flashing Glance


Have you forgotten someone's name just after they introduce themselves? If you are anything like me, having memory slips can be frustrating and downright embarrassing. I remember this one time I had to get up and perform a piano piece for a recital and I totally start to blank on what notes come next. I didn’t have the music in front of me, and the more I played the more I feel my memory slipping. I will come back to that story, but memory slips can have huge impacts on our day to day lives.

But, what can you do to improve your working memory? It’s well and good to test your memory, but what practical things can you do to get better at memorization? What memory methods can you use to bring your short term/working memory into long term/lasting memory?


Mnemonics is a memory method used to assist in memory retrieval. It can involve replacing letters of first words to represent other words. For example the term K.I.S.S. can stand for keep, it, simple, smarty (I don’t like to use stupid the term stupid if I can help it.). This can also be done with songs. If you want to remember a long list of people's names you can make a song about it. To find really good examples of mnemonics check out this website (Click Here)


You remember a lot more when you are interested and engaged in the subject in question. Spend time priming yourself to be fully in the moment and mindful and this will increase your ability to memorize. Read the post on "Setting Intention."



This might seem like a stretch, but I am going to go ahead and say it, “We all have photographic memory to some degree.” Unless you were born blind, you have the ability to use your photographic memory. Some of us just have a better working version of it. Many people never consider this, but our brains like to work in pictures. Take a listen to this Ted Talk and try to develop your photographic memory. You might be surprised at how reasonable it is to develop this ability. (Click Here To Watch The Video)


The idea of a memory palace isn’t a joke. It’s something you can do today to memorize huge amounts of information. Of course to get good at this, you need to practice it. To create your own memory palace, you will need:

  • A location you know really well. This could be your house, apartment, school, or workplace.

  • Items to put in your memory palace.

What you will do is take the items and place them on a walking route through your location. Take the following items as a list:

  • Cheese

  • Milk

  • Olives

  • Chicken

  • Cereal

Place those items on a walking tour through your house. Make a strange story out of it. The stranger the better. “I walked into my house and the floor was covered in cheese. My feet smelled horrible, so I went to the tub and rinsed them off in some milk. Then I put on some olive deodorant before changing into my chicken suite. I walked downstairs to eat a bowl of cereal.” Read that story one more time and see if you can recall that list. Chances are you can and for days to come. Of course this method takes a lot of work, but if you can master this skill, it’s one of the most powerful ways to memorize anything.


To finish out that story, about the piano playing, I noticed that my memory began slipping and I totally forgot what notes came next. I stopped playing and looked down at my hands. I began again from the beginning and remembered even less this time. I stopped once more. The atmosphere in the room was palpable. I looked out at the audience, bowed and I walked off the stage to break down in frustration. After that moment, I vowed to never let that happen again. This project and many others, are geared towards helping others, and myself, work on things like memory and deductive reasoning. Try it out and see how well you do. Subscribe to if you enjoyed this article.


The objective of this project is to test your ability to memorize random items in a short period of time. You will need:

Have a friend or someone put random items in a box or place them on a flat surface for you to see. Make sure you don’t look at the items until you are absolutely ready to memorize them. Give yourself 4 seconds to look at the items, then turn your head away. Write down the items on a piece of paper if you like or verbalize the items to your friend. If you memorized all 7 items than good for you. If you didn’t try to analyze what held you up. What slowed you down on your memorization? Was there anything you could have done to make associations with the items you were looking at? Test yourself this way for at least 1 week.

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