Have you ever lost or forgotten your keys, your wallet, or your bag?

Don’t worry, you’re not losing your mind.

You are, in fact, like millions of others around the world who simply haven’t learned to use their memory properly.

But it needn’t be like that. You can improve your memory by learning the magic formula for remembering anything. This formula is used by the Grand Masters of Memory at the World Memory Championships.

The formula that will improve your memory

If you wish to remember anything successfully, you must do three things:

  1. Have a very clear image of it in your head.
  2. Be aware of all the associations around it.
  3. Be aware of its precise location.

Let’s go back to that lost car. How could you have lost it? It weighs a ton, you drove it, you parked it, and you lost it.

But let’s examine what actually happened. As you drove into the parking space, what was in your mind?

Probably the friend you were meeting, the things you were going to buy. And as you locked the car door, you did not picture or image your car; you did not look at the surrounding area and you did not place your car in relation to anything else. In other words, you specifically disobeyed the three rules of memory!

So, when you get out of your car, you should take a split second to really see it, and locate it in relation to something nearby, something permanent such as a tree or a building. It is the same with your keys and your wallet.

Remember: Image, association, and location.

One way in which you can improve your memory is to use the magic rules of memory and turn an abstract list – of shopping, say – into a journey somewhere familiar. Memory Grand Masters usually use their own houses when they use this method to remember.

Suppose you are going shopping and you need to buy cheese, milk, apples, and a dozen tomatoes. Picture yourself in your kitchen standing on a huge chunk of cheese. Then, step into the hall through hundreds of milk bottles. Near the front door are some apples – pick up a hammer and pound them. And on the doorstep, visualize a box with a dozen tomatoes in it. When you get to the shops, you will have a mental journey from your kitchen to your front door that will help you remember your list.


For a quick, fun memory exercise, try to remember this list of objects by visualizing them and placing them in order around your house: a baby chimpanzee, a tarantula, a Rolls-Royce, a Christmas tree, a gold ring, a pair of gloves, a clown’s nose, a book on improving your memory, a Van Gogh painting, and a flight on Concorde.

More information

This magic formula described above is known as the Method of Loci or more commonly the Memory Journey Method.

According to Wikipedia, the Method of Loci is a memory-enhancing technique that uses visualizations of spatial environments in order to enhance the recall of information. This memory technique is used in many applications especially those that involve learning and studying.

Besides the Method of Loci, there are other memory methods that you can use to improve your memory. Some of these are The Link System, The Number-Shape System, The Alphabet System, and The Major System.

Check out our Memory Workshop where you will learn how to use mnemonics to help you improve your memory.


  • Buzan, Tony. “Boosting Your Memory.” Adapted with permission.
Coursera Achieve personal and professional success