Human Memory: Problem Set

by LoganStrohl4 min read31st Oct 201350 comments

23

Personal Blog

I'm working on a post about how best to use human memorywhen it's good to store things in your own brain and why, when it's best to outsource your memory, what memory upgrades are worthwhile in what contexts, and how to integrate and apply memory systems in real life. I'm hoping the following set of memory problems will draw out approaches that haven't occurred to me so I can compare a wider range of methods.

I'll post the first solutions I thought of myself later on, but for now I'd like to hear what you would do in each of these situations and what you believe to be the pros and cons of your answers. Can you think of ways to improve upon your first thoughts and the answers of others?

(You don't have to respond to all of the questions; feel free to post as little or as much as comes to mind.)


1. I'm leaving for a week-long business trip. The last time this happened, I wasn't totally sure I'd remembered to lock my door. The worry wouldn't leave my mind and was making it hard to relax, so I eventually called a friend and asked them to stop by and make sure it was locked. Now, I'm standing in front of my door, suitcase in hand, all ready to go, and I'm about to lock it. What should I do?


2. I'm in the middle of a conversation with a friend. He mentions a book that really interests me. It's called Antifragile and I think, "I've got to remember to Google that." But the conversation continues, and it would be rude to pull out my phone right this minute.


3. I bought a new fridge. This one closes differently than my old fridge: My old fridge would swing shut and seal nicely if I just left it open, while this one requires that I push on the door even when it's mostly closed to ensure it seals. For some reason, I'm having a hard time with this transition. I've had it for a week, and I've come home from work to find my more perishable food spoiled three times already. It's not that there's a problem with the latching mechanism or that the seal is bad. The problem is that I keep forgetting.


4. I'm driving in an unfamiliar city. My GPS says my destination is somewhere around here, but I suspect it's working with slightly outdated information. Rather than driving around aimlessly in hopes that I'll randomly run across that which I seek, I sensibly stop to ask a local for directions. Unfortunately, it seems that the business I'm looking for has moved to another part of the city, and I'm going to have to remember more than seven things to get there.


5. I'm preparing a talk for an upcoming conference. It's not the kind of thing that would benefit much from a Power Point, so using one would be tacky. I don't care for the idea of flipping through note cards as I go either. And I definitely don't want to memorize an entire speech word-for-word. But neither do I want to just wing it and hope it turns out well-structured and non-rambly, and I'm afraid I'll forget one of the key points if I get nervous.


6. I've just started at a new school. I've been through this before, so I know that in the next two weeks I'm going to have to say or write my student ID number about a zillion times, after which point I'll still need it, but only occasionally. It's 12 digits long: 000458789625. I'll surely have it memorized by the end of the first two weeks just because I've repeated it so much, but it sure would be nice to not have to pull out my wallet, find my ID, switch my attention back and forth between that and what I'm writing, and then double check. Every damn time.


7. In an attempt to reduce stress, I'm trying to maintain a clear boundary between home and work by not working while I'm at home. But almost every evening, I think of several things related to work that I really want to remember. It's the worst when this happens as I'm trying to fall asleep, all snugly under the covers, and I don't even want to open my eyes to enter the thought into my phone, let alone to turn on a light, find my calendar, and pencil in a deadline.


8. This evening, I'll be going to a large and crowded party where my main goal is networking. I know of several important people who will be there (and whose favor I'd very much like to gain), and I know there will be dozens more I've never heard of with whom it will be useful to connect. But I'm getting anxious, because I'm terrible with names, and I don't want to make a fool of myself by forgetting something like which major startups one of the known important people has been funding.


9. I'm studying for the medical licensing exam. This basically means somehow turning myself into an encyclopedia of modern medicine. It's a giant mess of mostly disconnected facts, weird jargon, and lengthy procedures. I cannot even imagine fitting all of this into a single brain. I stare blankly at the table of contents of a 700 page textbook, and I begin to panic.


23

50 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 10:37 PM
New Comment

I actually struggled a lot with this for a year or so after my stroke, which damaged my short-term memory retrieval (among other things). Mostly, I found my best strategy was to develop mindful awareness of things I actually wanted to remember, and write everything else down.

Writing things down was relatively easy (though my fine motor control was also damaged, so writing was... tedious).

Getting over the feeling of awkwardness when I had to interrupt someone to write down what they were saying took some doing, but was worthwhile.

The real problem for a while was remembering that I had written something down that I should look at in the first place. It was a few days before it occurred to me that I could designate a single location to write all things down in, and then develop the habit of looking at that location regularly. (Yes, I reinvented the concept of a "list" from first principles. I never know whether to be proud of that or not, but boy did I feel brilliant when I came up with it.)

Anything routine (like whether I took my pills today) was best written down, since developing an awareness of today's pill-taking as distinct from yesterday's pill-taking required a level of mindfulness I could not reliably achieve.

There's lots of techniques for mindfulness, but what I found worked best for me was:

  • tie the desired memory to an action, not just a thought (reciting it out loud worked well, though I also got into the habit of using idiosyncratic hand gestures that were otherwise meaningless)
  • practice "remembering" the target right now (this is hard to describe, but it's different from not having forgotten it yet)
  • tie the desired memory explicitly to other things I'm observing right now, including my own thoughts (sometimes just observing the juxtaposition would do, but constructing puns or observing similarities/contrast or constructing little narrative stories worked better)

I don't think the specifics really matter, they just forced me to pay attention rather than simply tell myself I was paying attention.

Another technique that sometimes helped was singing things rather than just saying them.

Things that I might not remember to do in the first place (like your refrigerator example) I would either put a reminder where I would see it when I ought to do it (like a note saying "Push the door closed" on the door), or I would rehearse doing it right a few dozen times (open and close the door over and over) to establish muscle memory. Often both. The latter made me feel much more in control.

I think your problem was not only that your memory was damaged, but that you had more stuff to remember, probably stuff that you used to take for granted.

Oh, there were several problems, and they reinforced each other. That was one of them, yes. Another was that executive function and attention were damaged, which of course made noticing things in the first place challenging and sometimes painful.

Idea: Mark each pill with one of seven different colors, each assigned to a day of a week; surely it's easier to distingiush this tuesday's pill from last tuesday's pill and this monday's pill (and in the process you also train your memory by making it remember consistently on an easy level)

An easier variation was getting a pillbox with seven compartments, and loading it at the beginning of each week.

I do this for supplements and medication too, and highly recommend it. I think it's in general difficult for people to remember to take something regularly.

1) Get a double cylinder lock (one with a lock on the inside and the outside). You won't be able to open the door without using your key, so you won't need to remember to use your key. (Be sure to keep a spare key attached to the door so you can get out in emergencies).

2) When a topic comes up in a conversation that I want to bring up later, I visualize pushing it onto a stack). When the conversation has dead air, I pop a topic off the stack. Every time I push or pop a topic, I mentally refresh the full contents of the stack. This works well for navigating conversation threads (it's a depth-first search).

8) I keep notes about people on my computer. When I come home from a party, I write down all I remember about every person there. If I know in advance that a person's going to be at a party, I look them up the night before. If I see someone unexpectedly, I can step out for a minute and look them up on my cell phone. However, I dislike looking people up on my cell phone; it feels disingenuous, and I usually remember more than enough regardless.

9) I read the textbook, make flashcards as I go, and review periodically. Don't Panic

Advise on 2 for Slytherins: Forgotten recommendations are an opportunity. People generally won't think of you as an acquaintance until they've interacted with you a few times. Recommendations provide excuses to get in contact with people for a second or third time (for clarification or thanks) while flattering their judgement. I have heard of people pretending to forget recommendations just so they can contact someone to ask about it*.

There's a saying about courting donors: "If you want advice, ask for money. If you want money, ask for advice."

*I am a Hufflepuff and do not condone such action

I have used the pretending to forget thing several times. Good stuff.

When a topic comes up in a conversation that I want to bring up later, I visualize pushing it onto a stack. When the conversation has dead air, I pop a topic off the stack. Every time I push or pop a topic, I mentally refresh the full contents of the stack. This works well for navigating conversation threads (it's a depth-first search).

How do you remember what you put into the stack? What kind of a representation does the topic have? Do you remember the contents of the stack for long afterwards? How?

How do you remember what you put into the stack?

Like the I'm packing my bags game. I add or remove items one at a time and repeat the entire contents back to myself after ever amendment. I'm sure you could use method of loci or something, but repetition is good enough for me.

What kind of a representation does the topic have? Nothing special. Words, ideas, images... something short I can "think about" for a fifth of a second, then think about the next item on the stack as I'm mentally repeating them.

Do you remember the contents of the stack for long afterwards?

No. The stack is a trick I use during thick of a conversation or debate to not lose track of topics I'd like to return to. However, I suspect it primes me for better remembering conversations when I review (and log) them at home.

A fun set of problems. Lessee...

(1) Hit the door with your head. Hard enough to hurt, not hard enough to crack your skull.

(2) Make up an association with something around, the more ridiculous the better. E.g. "That sofa over there is so fragile it will break into a pile of sticks if someone tries to sit on it".

(3) Buy safety-orange or neon-pink tape and cover the fridge handles with it.

(4) Remember the first steps, do them, ask another local.

(5) Well, the traditional advice is to imagine a house and associate points of your speech with rooms in the house. However I would just write the key points on a sheet of paper -- less stress.

(6) The simplest solution is just to memorize it through brute force. If you're unwilling or unable, use a check digit -- sum up all the digits of the number, remember the single last digit, and when you fill out a form sum up the digits of what you wrote and see if it matches.

(7) No good ideas -- since you're trying to fall asleep it's likely you won't remember them in the morning. Maybe switch the phone to voice recording and mumble the ideas into it?

(8) That's a general problem -- you want to remember associations between names and several facts per each name. The rooms-in-a-house technique may work, or the ridiculous-associations method (as long as there aren't too many facts per person).

(9) Have a good panic, then look up statistics on how many people pass the exam each year and ask yourself whether you're dumber than each and every one of them.

I'm liking this for "hit the door with your head". Just the kind of thing I was looking for.

Will it still work if you start using it often?

Well I don't actually recommend it. :-p It's just something along the right lines that I wouldn't have thought of.

1 . I'm leaving for a week-long business trip. The last time this happened, I wasn't totally sure I'd remembered to lock my door. The worry wouldn't leave my mind and was making it hard to relax, so I eventually called a friend and asked them to stop by and make sure it was locked. Now, I'm standing in front of my door, suitcase in hand, all ready to go, and I'm about to lock it. What should I do?

Solemnly declare "As I leave for Japan, May The Guardian Spirits Of The East Watch Over Me As The Sprits Of The West Watch Over My Home" as I lock the door. It just needs to be memorable (vivid, silly, related to what I'm doing) and different from what I did/said last time.

(I have a sufficiently strong habit of locking my door that I don't worry about what-if-I-forgot though).

2 . I'm in the middle of a conversation with a friend. He mentions a book that really interests me. It's called Antifragile and I think, "I've got to remember to Google that." But the conversation continues, and it would be rude to pull out my phone right this minute.

Ask him to remind me later about that book; repeat aloud "Antifragile eh? Remind me to look it up" (even if he doesn't, repeating it aloud should make it more memorable). Mention it again at the end of the conversation ("And I have to look up Antifragile")

(at least, I tend to do that, if I don't remember, I don't mind much, it probably wasn't that important and I have enough to read; if I need an insightful book I look at goodread recommendations, or ask LessWrong)

3 . I bought a new fridge. This one closes differently than my old fridge: My old fridge would swing shut and seal nicely if I just left it open, while this one requires that I push on the door even when it's mostly closed to ensure it seals. For some reason, I'm having a hard time with this transition. I've had it for a week, and I've come home from work to find my more perishable food spoiled three times already. It's not that there's a problem with the latching mechanism or that the seal is bad. The problem is that I keep forgetting.

Stick something huge and obvious on the door handle / the place you put your hand. Like a bunch of colored stickers (I have plenty around), or magnets, etc. Each time you'll put your hand there it'll remind you something's different. Also, practice a few times closing the fridge with the new stickers.

4 . I'm driving in an unfamiliar city. My GPS says my destination is somewhere around here, but I suspect it's working with slightly outdated information. Rather than driving around aimlessly in hopes that I'll randomly run across that which I seek, I sensibly stop to ask a local for directions. Unfortunately, it seems that the business I'm looking for has moved to another part of the city, and I'm going to have to remember more than seven things to get there.

Eh, focus on remembering as much as possible, especially the beginning, which should be enough to bring you closer, and ask for directions again. You're likely to get more accurate info again.

Also, use mnemonics and the link method to make the sequence easier to remember (street names and landmarks can be associated to crazy stuff, and paired together). But I wouldn't trust that very much and would just ask again when I'm nearer :)

5 . I'm preparing a talk for an upcoming conference. It's not the kind of thing that would benefit much from a Power Point, so using one would be tacky. I don't care for the idea of flipping through note cards as I go either. And I definitely don't want to memorize an entire speech word-for-word. But neither do I want to just wing it and hope it turns out well-structured and non-rambly, and I'm afraid I'll forget one of the key points if I get nervous.

Make a really short summary on one index card, carry it around. Maybe memorize the important bits with the link method (memorize subsequent pairs of elements doing outrageous and exaggerated and obscene things to each other, switching their place, etc.)

6 . I've just started at a new school. I've been through this before, so I know that in the next two weeks I'm going to have to say or write my student ID number about a zillion times, after which point I'll still need it, but only occasionally. It's 12 digits long: 000458789625. I'll surely have it memorized by the end of the first two weeks just because I've repeated it so much, but it sure would be nice to not have to pull out my wallet, find my ID, switch my attention back and forth between that and what I'm writing, and then double check. Every damn time.

Have a piece of paper in an easily visible part of my wallet with that kind of stuff written on it (this makes it convenient for showing to bureaucrats too, along with your full well-spelled name, address, etc.).

7 . In an attempt to reduce stress, I'm trying to maintain a clear boundary between home and work by not working while I'm at home. But almost every evening, I think of several things related to work that I really want to remember. It's the worst when this happens as I'm trying to fall asleep, all snugly under the covers, and I don't even want to open my eyes to enter the thought into my phone, let alone to turn on a light, find my calendar, and pencil in a deadline.

I have a small blue light that isn't too obnoxious (won't wake my wife, or wake me too much), and usually have a pen and paper on my nightstand.

8 . This evening, I'll be going to a large and crowded party where my main goal is networking. I know of several important people who will be there (and whose favor I'd very much like to gain), and I know there will be dozens more I've never heard of with whom it will be useful to connect. But I'm getting anxious, because I'm terrible with names, and I don't want to make a fool of myself by forgetting something like which major startups one of the known important people has been funding.

That's what business cards are for! Also, write down extra details on them.

Otherwise, you may need to know some kind of peg system. Or look up attendees afterwards on the internet.

If you have time beforehand, enter the names of the attendees into anki, and review'em a couple times (a bit overkill tho)

9 . I'm studying for the medical licensing exam. This basically means somehow turning myself into an encyclopedia of modern medicine. It's a giant mess of mostly disconnected facts, weird jargon, and lengthy procedures. I cannot even imagine fitting all of this into a single brain. I stare blankly at the table of contents of a 700 page textbook, and I begin to panic.

That's why god gave us Anki! (or other spaced repetition systems) Which you'll need to use well (cloze deletion, a fair amount of redundancy, don't bite off more than you can chew or you'll give up, make it really easy...), and complement with mnemonics (acrostics, link method, method of loci/memory palace, peg system maybe).

  1. The extra importance you're placing on just thinking about it now is enough to remember it later. No further action required.

  2. Say you won't remember the title, and use that as an excuse to write down the name in a note-taking app on your smartphone you downloaded for just that purpose.

  3. Put something on the handle, exactly where you open the door. You will hopefully associate this with the need to close it after. Far-future suggestion: If changing kitchens, put the fridge by the entrance/exit. You will see the open fridge on the way out.

  4. Write it down. Or, remember as much as you can, then when you're not certain stop and ask someone else.

  5. Have one note card that has the key points you want to address, with a couple of important supports. Practice the speech a few times, improving most of it while sticking to the main points on the notecard.

  6. Every hour, test yourself on what your ID is. Set a reminder in a calendar. You'll have it memorized in a day, and it will be solidified by all the times you have to repeat it after.

  7. Keep a notebook by your nightstand with a pencil. You honestly don't need light to write a quick reminder, and you can scratch down a reminder in a few minutes.

  8. This night isn't much timing, and you can try to cram the same way as the ID number. If you have a week or two, anki decks.

  9. Anki decks.

your numbering is out of whack there. Markdown doesn't let you do lists starting at arbitrary numbers, so as soon as you started using the right format, it started your numbering again at 1.

The extra importance you're placing on just thinking about it now is enough to remember it later. No further action required.

This certainly wouldn't work for some people I know, although it does for me. Have enough thoughts of extra importance on things you should remember, and you might confuse them?

Any people for who this would fail? Why do you think it would?

It would almost certainly fail for me. I seem to store stuff like this just fine, which I believe because the information will often come to me when I don't need it, but I'm no good at retrieving it at will just because it's somewhere in my brain.

Thanks for answering, but I don't fully understand your explanation. I think some relevant part is missing. Why isn't all information just somewhere in your brain? What makes this type of information different?

I know I have memories stored too that I can't always recall and have them pop up randomly, but I haven't identified any particular type of memory more difficult to recall than others. Many times I've wondered whether I locked the door and the memory never pops up, ever, so I guess I fail to store the memory in the first place.

1) check that its locked, then write a reminder, note, etc in your phone that you locked it 2) If you say "That sounds really interesting, let me write that down so I remember to look it up later" that's not rude at all, its showing you're actually interested in what he's saying. 3)Put a giant yellow sign on the front that says 'check that I'm closed!' 4)If possible put it down on paper or in your phone. If not then make up a ridiculous story using the street names and turns, such that the non-sequitur helps you remember. 5) write up an outline of key points and memorize those, helping yourself remember them by creating an acronym from the letters that begin each point, so you'll be able to check whether you're about to skip one. 6) splitting it into three number chunks before memorizing it would help a lot, I think 7) I just get up, I've given up on this one. 8) Random associations, between firms and names and names and people would be my suggestion. 9)Read the book. Anki. Take a class on the same material while reading a different book on the same material. It worked for learning huge amounts about molecular biology in a short time for me.

1

Lock the door and video the process of locking & verifying. Bring the video with you on your trip.

Pro:

  • Whenever you're in doubt, just watch the video.
  • No need to even bug a friend.

Con:

  • Assumes you have a digital camera handy and a way to view the recording on the trip.

7

Use SleepBot and just say the stuff aloud so it auto-records them. Then, go to sleep.

Pro:

  • Instant/easy recording

Con:

  • Have to dig through recordings the next day
  • Requires having a smartphone plugged in & near the bed

1) Just lock the door. Assuming you don't have OCD or memory impairments, you won't be having the problem this around time, because this time you locked it on purpose rather than on autopilot so you are quite certain to remember it.

As a general rule, learn to trust that things which you reliably do on autopilot (like locking doors) are done even if you don't remember doing it. Unless you have a history of coming home and seeing the door unlocked, you are really unlikely to have waltzed out without locking it.

2) I think you're overestimating the rudeness of the act, but if you are concerned then when you pull out your phone, just say "That's "Anti-fragile, right? Let me put that in my phone" and proceed to put it in. Or if you know the person, ask them again later. (If you are often among an older generation that automatically associates phones with "not paying attention to me", carry a pocket notebook. It's flattering to note down something someone says, not rude)

3) low effort option: Make a game of tapping out a rhythm on the fridge when you close it. Close - tap tap tap. High-effort option: Put a "CLOSE ME" sticky-note on your fridge.

4) Ask the local for a neighboring establishment which is near the one you want to go to. Enter that into the GPS instead.

5) Don't flip through notecards - just bring one note card, containing the key points. Or better yet a notebook - you're going to want to take notes during the ensuing discussion anyway, so you might as well have one.

6) The three-segmented 45 Caterpillar is eating a 858 sandwich. You're doing the 69 backwards - you'd think a 25 year old would be able to figure that out.

7) If it's complicated, get a recording device and speak it in. If it's simple, toss your socks or phone or something on the floor, and when you see it on the floor in the morning it will remind you of why you tossed it there.

8) "Hi, my name is Charlie!" He's charming, and overweight. Ok, let's remember him as Chubby, Charming Charlie. (This method is not that great, but I find it's better than nothing)

9) Remind yourself that you can still salvage your score somewhat by just getting started anyway. Go through the table of contents, identify each conceptual unit, and spend a pre-set amount of time on each one, leaving a block of time at the end to come back on the hard ones.

1) Go through the process slowly. Dramatically take out your key. Slowly let it sink into the lock. Turn it as dramatic as you can. After locking it, try to open the door. Finish with a "quest completed" sound in your head.

Alternatively, take a picture of your lock with your key in it.

2) Tell my friend: "Antifragile, eh. Sounds like an interesting book. Remind me to look it up later. Could you maybe send me an email about it later?"

3) Make a "ding" sound in my head every time I do give the door an extra push.

4) I'm generally good at getting somewhere based on vague information, but I'd try and remember at least the first set of directions and ask later on. Also, I'd repeat the direction the person has given me, in order to check my shorter-term memory.

5) Make one small card with only the key points on them. Practice the talk with this card in hand, so that you'll have them in the same order every time. If at any time during the talk you think you're forgetting something, take a quick look at the card to reassure yourself.

6) I'd just give up and put the student ID somewhere accessible. It took me over a year to memorize 89201, so there's no way I'll be remembering a 12-digit one.

7) A pencil and paper next to my bed so I can scribble on it without turning on the lights. Even a short barely readable "Meeting with Christoph" should be enough to jog my memory in the morning.

9) Summarize, summarize, summarize. Make schematic representations of everything. A 700-page textbook can be reduced to 100 or even 75 pages of schematics and summaries. Apart from that, find a friend that's also studying and explain things to them. You memorize things a lot quicker if you actually use that knowledge.

1. I exercise mindfulness in the act of locking the door, as a result of which I not only lock the door, but also carry away the assurance that I have done so.

Anecdote: A former postgrad student where I work went to work at GCHQ. He was an obsessive whiz at mathematics, exactly the qualities that a place like GCHQ wants, regardless of any psychological difficulties they might also have. Think autism, Aspergers, OCD, etc. GCHQ has support systems to handle such people to get what they want out of them.

But in the end they had to let him go. In the room where he worked, there were about 15 computers, and one day a notice went up saying "Would the last person to leave please ensure all the machines are shut down." If he was the last to leave, he couldn't, because he'd check every machine, get to the door, and have to check them again. And again and againandagainand...

Well, something was broken in his brain, I suppose. He was physically unable to both shut down the machines and achieve the assurance that he had done so (and also unable to just decide, "sod it, I'm leaving anyway").

So, I don't do that.

2. Filing card in my pocket for all such notes. There are various peg memory systems that I sometimes try to use, but I haven't made them work very reliably.

3. I put some sort of visual reminder on the fridge door. I put another on the front door, so that checking the fridge when I go out is one of the things I do whenever I go out.

4. If the directions received are definite enough to enter into the GPS, do that. At any rate, remember at least enough to make some progress, then if necessary ask again. Write stuff down on that filing card.

5. Key points on a notecard, and lots of rehearsal, declaiming to an empty room. Mindfulness during the actual talk, so that I always have part of my attention on the structure, instead of attending only to the words coming out of my mouth right now.

6. Just look at the ID every time. If I don't look, I don't know, and the trouble is less trouble to me than the uncertainty. For numbers there's a standard mnemonic mapping digits to consonant sounds that I find effective. It maps (dropping the leading zeros) 458789625 to RLFKFPJNL, which one can turn into words with vowels. Does "Ralph cough up channel" help? But I find turning that back into numbers time-consuming, so I only use it for numbers I never write down, like PINs.

7. Write them down anyway.

8. I don't do parties or networking, so I don't have a solution to this one. But again, the filing card in the pocket listing everything I want to do at the event is the way I'd go, to be discreetly consulted from time to time.

9. Panic some more. Sleep on it. Panic again. Then decide I'm in the wrong profession.

For "filing card" one could substitute "notes app on a phone", but I can scribble on a card far faster than poke a tiny keyboard.

  1. That's what checklists are made for.

  2. No idea, without writing it down it's gone.

  3. Put a sticker that says "Push!" on the door.

  4. Ask them for the new address instead of directions. Or maybe they would point it on your Maps app.

  5. Make a list of key points, one for every 5-10 minutes or so. Memorize the list if you don't want to keep it in front of you, it's only 5 to 7 items.

  6. Sing it out loud a few hundred times.

  7. Find something to occupy your mind when you are falling asleep, the work thoughts will pop up again in the morning if they are any good. I just pick a small piece of an interesting problem or calculation and try to do it in my head until I lose my train of thought, which is an indication that I am about 5 min from falling asleep.

  8. Go through the part of a Dale Carnegie training course that teaches you how to memorize names and faces for future networking. The rest of the course is good, too.

  9. I would never ever attempt anything like that. But Scott Young has a few great suggestions. His mailing list is well worth subscribing to.

  1. Lock it, then check it's locked. If it really matters, check it again in an unusual way (like, with my foot or something).

  2. Meh, I'd pull the phone anyway. Perhaps verbally interrupt "sorry, let me write that down, Antifragile was it?" so that they can tell I'm doing it because I'm listening to them, not because they're boring.

  3. Post-it in my eyeline when closing it. Or checking the fridge before I go to work, if the big problem is it being open the whole day.

  4. Figure out where it is, then put that point into the GPS. Possibly a trick answer, but it's what I'd do.

  5. Meh, I'm happy with the note cards.

  6. Put the number in my phone, which is close to hand most of the time. Or, well, just remember it - I'm good at that.

  7. Tell myself that if it's important I'll think of it again. They're not paying me enough to get out of bed at this time of night.

  8. I'm no good at this one, interested to hear good answers.

  9. If it's scary then break it into small pieces. (Though personally I'd just read the thing cover to cover and be confident of remembering it, so again I can't give very useful advice).

(Written without reading others' comments)

  1. Do something weird and memorable after locking the door, like a little dance step in celebration of the locked door.

  2. It should not be rude to express interest in a topic that your friend mentions. "One sec, let me take a quick note to remind myself that that sounds awesome" ought to (if you have the right friends) signal engagement and nonflakiness.

  3. You got the wrong fridge. Assuming it's too late to return it and get the right fridge, try putting heavy things on the door. If that doesn't work, put one of those annoying greeting cards that sing in the hinge so it makes noise when it's open.

  4. Write down the directions. Or stop on the way and ask another local for the second half of the directions once you have run out of confident progress to make.

  5. Write an outline on a sheet of paper and have that available.

  6. Write your ID number on your hand. If this would be tacky in this environment, write it further up your arm and wear sleeves.

  7. (This one might be idiosyncratic to me) State the idea or sufficient keywords to reconstruct it out loud, even at a whisper. I find it easier to recover audio memories than thought-memories.

  8. Ask the host of the party to distribute nametags. If you need more information than that, write it down and consult it discreetly between drifts from conversation to conversation.

  9. I don't have personal experience with anything comparable, but I think the approved solution involves spaced repetition, and maybe finding someone else to tutor about things as you get a grip on them.

Suggestions before reading anyone else's comments:

  1. Take out a piece of paper and a pen. Lock the door. Write on the paper "I just locked the front door." Put it in your suitcase. (Rationale: It seems like you need to do something, and you probably aren't going to trust your own memory. So do something really foolproof and simple. It takes less time and trouble than calling a friend later. If this is part of some more general OCD problem, consider therapy -- but that won't help you right now.)

  2. Tell the friend "That sounds really interesting. Hold on a second while I make sure I don't forget it." Get out the phone and do the Google search (or enter the name into your favourite note-taking app). Leave the browser tab open for later reference, or bookmark it, or something. If your friend thinks that's rude, find better friends. (Rationale: It really isn't rude; it doesn't take long, and your friend should be flattered that something he said was so interesting to you. Just do it.)

  3. If possible: Put something under the front edge of the fridge so that gravity closes it for you. (Rationale: removing problems is better than solving them.) OR: tie something ridiculous-looking to the fridge handle, and every time it reminds you to close the door replace it with a different ridiculous-looking thing. (Rationale: You want something dramatic and hard to miss. You want to make yourself take memorable action to form the right habits.)

  4. (a) Focus on remembering as much of the early part as you robustly can, then when you get there ask a local for directions again. (Rationale: Asking a local is little trouble and a good habit to have. No harm doing it twice and saving yourself mental load.) (b) Bring up the map on your car's GPS and get the local to point out where the place is. Then get the GPS to take you there. (Rationale: It seems like if you have a usable GPS then asking for directions rather than locations is terribly 20th-century.)

  5. Swallow your pride and use the note cards. OR: Rehearse enough times that you know you won't get lost. That will make the talk better anyway. OR, BETTER STILL: Do both. (You probably won't actually need the note cards, but having them there will help your confidence.) (Rationale: Your memory is probably fine for this, but confidence and fluency are really important, so optimize for those.)

  6. Depends on how good your memory for these things is, but I'd suggest: Try to do it from memory every time, and pull the thing out of your wallet if you fail. (Rationale: Making the effort will reduce the time before you have it memorized. Personally I'd just memorize the damn thing, but I have the good fortune to find it easy to memorize 12-digit strings of digits.)

  7. Allocate a few minutes every evening, shortly before bed, for thinking of these things and writing them down. (Rationale: If your brain is filling with work-related things then you haven't actually succeeded in maintaining that boundary. Better to have an explicit, contained boundary violation.) This may or may not solve the problem. If it doesn't, either use the phone -- with a voice-note app for minimal invasiveness if you're sleeping on your own, or something textual if you have a partner -- or just resign yourself to forgetting some of those ideas. It depends on how important they really are and how many you forget.

  8. It's not clear here whether the focus is remembering stuff you already knew beforehand, or remembering things you learn at the party. For the latter, I fear there really isn't much you can do without looking weird. (If you don't mind looking weird, take notes after meeting each important person. You may be able to step outside to do it, or go to the bathroom and do it there.) For the former, write it all down and test yourself. Maybe make up some silly mnemonics. (Rationale: Er, not much to say here. There may well be better approaches.)

  9. Do it a bit at a time. Plot your progress against time so you can see you're on course and really do have time to cram everything into your brain before the exam (if you do). (Rationale: Overcome the fear as quickly as possible, in a way that will help take appropriate action if it turns out to be justified.) Test yourself frequently; this is exactly the sort of thing for which spaced repetition systems like Anki will help. (Rationale: This is known to work.) Remind yourself that thousands of people, ordinary baseline H. sapiens with no magical powers, pass the exam every year, and there's no reason why you shouldn't be one of them. (Rationale: Again, get over the fear.)

Reflections after reading other people's comments:

  1. There seems to be a good general level of agreement, which is either reassuring or disappointing.

  2. MrMind has a similar proposal using your phone rather than paper. May be more or less effort. Has the advantage that it's maybe harder to lose. I like his idea. (I don't actually have a smartphone, which may be one reason why I didn't think of his approach.) Emile's deliberately-silly proposal is nice but seems less reliable. Likewise for somertva's idea of associating the memory of locking the door with whatever worries you about not having locked it. (I don't see how it would work if it's just the idea of not having locked it that worries you.)

  3. hyporational goes further and suggests a noise-making device on the handle. I like this.

  4. MrMind and hyporational both suggest more forcefully than me that you should just accept that you will forget some work things by maintaining that boundary. They may be right, but I still suspect that by compromising a little you may actually reduce the amount of stress.

2) I'd visualize something, like the friend smashing a book on the floor and the book breaking into pieces, and then reassembling it magically again.

3) Put something that makes noise on the handle for the first few days.

5) Think of what the main points are and give them fitting visual symbols. Make a simple story of those symbols that helps you remember the order. Rehearse.

7) Use any of several techniques that help me not to think about work in the first place. I don't want to reinforce thinking about work when trying to sleep.

  1. Associate the locking of the door with emotions and vivid imagery - before you lock the door, try to remember the feeling of worry you get when you aren't sure whether you've locked it or not. Immerse yourself in that feeling, making it as close to the genuine emotion as possible, then associate that worry with some vivid image of whatever bothers you - burglars attacking the house or something - then, as you lock the door, tie that in with your imagery, like the burglars running into the door's lock. The point here is to try to associate the worry with the memory of locking the door, so that when you start to worry about it, the memory is triggered.

Or, y'know, just write it on your phone or something :D

  1. pull the phone out anyway, saying that you really want to record something he said. Alternatively, ask the friend to email you a link to the book, while still resolving to google it yourself, to increase your charges.

  2. Practice opening the fridge, getting something out, and closing it properly several times. Associate this with the same type of emotional link/vivid imagery. Maybe make a game out of it, flicking it closed with your foot like a martial artist kicking a bad guy. Write a not on the door in big lettering "Close me properly!" with a picture of someone staring at you. Maybe mix this with the imagery - have the picture be the bad guy you're trying to kick, or have the picture on the inside, and you're locking it in.

  1. Definitely just write it down here.

  2. Link each section of the speech to a stage of a narrative or something? Maybe a movie/Book you know well? I'm not really sure what would work here, I normally just wing it and it works.

  3. set aside 30 minutes you fill it in in a form over and over again, taking it out and outting it back every time. That, or just let the two weeks happen with the wallet and the switching. If you have an anki deck or some other kind of SRS, chuck it in there too.

  4. Have a little whiteboard or something on the wall next to your bed (check to see if glow-in-the-dark markers are a thing). Yes, this is something I have always wanted to do :P

  5. Umm... drill yourself beforehand with flashcards? That much info with that little notice is tricky. Prioritize! Focus on the most important data.

  6. Write it all down, mindmap it out (doesn't have to be on paper). maybe use workflowy or something for zoomable focus. Once you've figured out how it organizes, SRS/Anki is king here.

  1. Honestly, I don't run into this thing very often, but to accept the hypothetical, I would add a note in simplenote that just said "Yes I locked the door" right after I locked it. And then whenever I worried, I could page to the note. (I also expect that pausing to do this would make me less likely to worry.

  2. I always pause conversations for this. It takes 2 seconds to drop the book into my Amazon cart from my phone, and then it's in queue to be bought/requested through the library/etc. And I just say, "Oooh, hang on, I really want to remember that.

  3. Probably by spending a little time opening and closing the door correctly while saying "Pow!" and picturing myself heroically saving the food from death.

  4. Writing down the directions in simplenote

  5. I usually speak not-from-notes already. I keep in mind the shape of the speech and it's emotional arcs (if this is the part where the audience feels relaxed and they're about to feel discomfited, then I know what I must be saying to make that change).

  6. Yeah, I still use the write it down online method for my SSN. I just removed a few numbers and replaced them with sentences that rely on hard to google info about me that I can easily recall to remember the numbers. So I expect I'd do the same thing here and transcribe.

  7. I always put this into my phone (simplenote again).

  8. Ha. I'm reasonably faceblind, so I am mostly screwed walking in. I should probably make notes on business cards at the end of convos and before I join the next one.

  9. It helps me to think of the systems in the big picture and then zoom in to the details. As long as they feel like unconnected facts, I'm screwed. So that might mean reading stories about particular cases, so they feel like stories, and the symptoms are about people or by anthropomorphizing the white blood cells, etc.

[-][anonymous]6y 0

sd

[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply

Written before reading the comments:

  1. I take a photo of the door being locked on my phone.

  2. I ask my friend if [s]he minds if I add the name of the book to my phone.

  3. I put a note on the fridge with instructions.

  4. I follow as many of the directions as I remember, then ask another person for directions when I'm closer.

  5. I right down the key points and a few specific phrases before the talk onto a single card.

  6. I recite the number, using the "obvious" groupings, in this case the 3-digit groupings, repeatedly.

  7. The answer I'd predict other people will give is "make a precommitment to only write what you need to get the idea back", but I'm not sure that works.

  8. Make virtual flashcards that match faces with bios.

  1. I'd send myself an email or text my girlfriend. If I was more worried about it I'd leave myself a note in the place I typically leave myself notes.

  2. Ask for a second to write the name of the book down, that probably wouldn't be rude in context. If I can't do that but I have a pen, write it on my hand. If I had no other choice I would try binding an image of my door shattering as I opened it.

  3. Bind the habit I want to the fridge door, and explicitly practice closing it a few times a day for a while.

  4. Get them to point out the location on my gps, if possible. I never understood directions anyway.

  5. Memorize the outline of my speech. I'd practice giving it a few times, to get used to filling in the holes in order.

  6. If I knew one of the fancy mnemonic methods for numbers, I'd use it. But I don't, so memorizing the number seems more effort than it's worth. I'd write it down in a second place so I didn't accidentally forget to bring it. Maybe on my arm if I thought it was going to get used that much.

  7. I'd wonder if I actually knew where my phone was, flip out, and tear the room apart looking for it. At that point, I might as well just enter the thought (if I even still have it).

  8. Look up some names, faces and facts. Write a small fact-name association sheet for my phone, and do my best to bind names and faces in memory as we meet.

  9. I don't know. I always thought wanting to be a doctor was weird. At my last job interview they would have looked at me funny if I hadn't pulled up google.

  1. Lock the door. Then check if the door is locked. Then wait two seconds, then check again if the door is locked. Then walk two steps away, then return and check if the door is locked. Then walk several steps away, then return and check if the door is locked. Repeat with further distances until you're so embarrassed by this process that you'll vividly remember the embarrassment, and also remember that your door is locked. This is especially effective if someone else sees you doing this. Or you could just write yourself a note saying that you locked the door, along with a time/date stamp.

  2. A generally useful technique is to carefully keep track of how many things you are currently trying to remember. That way, hopefully being aware that there is something that you're supposed to remember will make it easier to actually remember the thing. And if you do forget something, at least you'll know how many things you forgot, and you might suddenly remember it later. One technique for remembering how many things you're currently trying to remember is to hold out one finger for each thing you're trying to remember. So far, only twice have I ever had the count exceed 10 before I got a chance to write down the things I was trying to remember, but even then I just started over from one, and it was easy to remember that I restarted the count from one.

  3. Take 5 minutes to practice closing the door properly. Use exaggerated motions. Close the fridge door the way you imagine a professional fridge door closer would do, then make a show of pushing the door to make sure it's sealed. After each repetition, gradually use a more natural method, and experiment with different methods. Check if you can easily seal the door by leaning against it. Check if there is a way to make sure the door is sealed before you remove your hand from the door handle. Find at least one method that you find both effective and convenient. Then try closing the door without sealing it properly. If you're lucky, then this will now feel wrong to you, and you'll be able to notice this feeling of wrongness if you later make the mistake of closing the door without sealing it.

  4. Just write down the information, or at least write down enough hints for you to easily remember the rest. Don't try to remember more than seven things. Or if you somehow can't write down anything, then try using the technique of remembering how many points you are trying to remember, and using whatever other memory techniques you find most useful to remember the points. Spend more effort remembering the final items, since in this case you can safely forget the first items as you finish them. Count down the remaining items as you finish each one.

  5. Again, use the technique of keeping track of how many items you're trying to remember. In this case, it would be helpful to remember the number of each item, if the points need to be presented in a specific order. You could also try making an acronym or other mnemonic, composed of one-word reminders of each item. Or use whatever other memorization tricks you find most useful.

  6. Have a copy of the number someplace easily accessible. Put the card at the front of your wallet, so that you don't need to spend time searching for it in your wallet. Write the number on another piece of paper, preferably strong paper, that's more convenient to pull out than your wallet. Store the number on your cellphone in a place that's just one or two taps from the home screen. Write the number on your hand. Write the number on some other object you often look at. Use other memorization techniques for remembering numbers.

  7. Everyone should have a convenient way to write down ideas they think of in bed. I use an Evernote app on my cellphone, right on the home screen, and with no lock screen on the cellphone. If you're awake enough to think of ideas, then you're awake enough to write them down. Decide for yourself if the idea is important enough to be worth the hopefully trivial effort of writing it down. Or if you're really in brainstorming mode, and thinking of several ideas and don't want to pause to write them down, then use the technique of keeping track of how many points you're currently trying to remember, then when you're finished brainstorming and ready to write stuff down, you'll at least know how many things you've forgotten, and can try to remember them. If the light of the cellphone would interfere with your sleep, or if you don't have a cellphone, then you could try learning to write on paper without any light, and hope that whatever marks you made on the paper are enough to remind you of the idea. I previously tried using a TI-92+ graphing calculator, which has a full qwerty keyboard, with which I had enough experience to type unreliably in the text editor without the light on, but I found the uncertainty of whether I had typed it successfully to be more of a nuisance than turning on a light. Or you don't want to try any of these ideas, you can try to use the technique of remembering how many ideas you thought of, and hope that after you wake up you'll be able to remember the number, and also what the ideas were.

  8. I don't have anything especially helpful to say about this one. Just use whatever memorization techniques you find most helpful. Also try any anxiety-reducing techniques you find helpful.

  9. I don't have anything especially helpful to say about this one either. Though the first step is to stop panicking, so use whatever panic-reducing techniques you find most helpful. Maybe focus on making at least some progress, rather than becoming discouraged by how much there is to be done.

  1. What works for me to prevent this worry has been to announce aloud as I lock and check the door, "I am locking the door. The door is now locked." Similarly for other tasks that are repeated so often that they can be easily forgotten. If you have multiple such tasks, then instead of mindfulness of each task you should use a checklist.

  2. Most reliable: Make the interruption a compliment, saying something along the lines of, "Oh, the way you describe it sounds amazing. Thank you so much for the reference! I have to write it down a moment." - Less reliable: Use a peg list (or memory palace) and attach it to the next free peg (or put it in the next open alcove).

  3. Put a sign on the door that says "Push hard to close" or similar. Or fix the door and remove the need for memory.

  4. No-memory method: Ask for something nearby your destination that you can use the GPS to locate, then find another local. - Most reliable memory method: Write them down. - Less reliable: Use chunking or a memory palace.

  5. That is exactly the traditional purpose of a memory palace.

  6. Use the Major System and find some colorful phrase for your ID. e.g. 000458789625 becomes "000-relieve-a-cough-by-chewing-holly".

  7. What works for me is to convince myself that (1) if a work-thought is actually a good one, I'll have it again when I'm at work. (2) Sleep is higher-valued than the thought at this time. (3) Also, I recall that my experience is that most late-night thoughts that I have written down have not actually been helpful come the next day. So there's no need to rouse myself and write it down.

  8. Memory competitors use memory palaces for this task.

  9. Learn the disconnected facts/jargon/procedures with Anki. But also do try to find connections, and if at all possible create a visualization showing the relationships.

You may be interested in the book Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer.

7. … I think of several things related to work that I really want to remember … as I'm trying to fall asleep …

I use my smartphone (Android) in cases similar to this, though it’s not usually work-related stuff that I think of. I have the sound recording app WAVE Recorder in my dock / quick launch area. If I want to note something for later with the minimum of fuss, it’s easy to unlock my phone, open the app, hit record, and briefly describe whatever it is that I thought of (or hum it, if it’s a piece of music). Then I just hit stop and lock the phone again.

However, the downside of recording audio is that it’s harder to read later. You can’t just skim what you wrote later to remind yourself what you said; you have to wait through the whole recording. This can be mitigated somewhat by giving the recorded audio file a relevant name. But sometimes I value reading the whole thing easily later more than noting the idea as quickly as possible right now.

In those cases, I write the idea down in a new Evernote note. Evernote is also in my phone’s dock. I use the SwiftKey Keyboard to write the idea quickly, and Lux to turn the screen’s brightness below the built-in minimum so that the screen doesn’t hurt my eyes or wake me up too much in the dark room.

(1) In general it's a good habit to always close the door with the key to look it from the outside. It prevents you from forgetting your key at home. It also looks the door.

In case you are still left with the specifc question, write a Evernote note via the mobile phone verify that you looked it.

(2) In case where the conversation is imporatant and you don't want to disturb it's flow: Make a gesture with two finger. Connect thumb and forefinger of the left hand and keep it connected till you have time to write something down.

Otherwise just say: "I think what you said about the book is really interesting, I don't want to forget it so I want to write it down.

Carrying index cards and a pen is also a possibility if you want to make a point to avoid taking out the phone.

(3) Store knowledge in Anki. Put it post it on the fridge.

(5) Verbally rehearse the presentaion out loud till you are okay with it.

(6) Anki Once card [1st three digits] Second Card [2nd three digits] Third Card [3rd three digits] Forth Card [4th three digits

(7) Stand up and write the information on a whiteboard. Writing down the information means that your brain can let it go and you can get easier to sleep. I don't think there a reason to keep the eyes closed.

(9) Anki. Try to organise information into very basic champs and put that information into Anki.

  • /1. Use one of the writing utensils in my pocket to write on a post-it note (also in my pocket) "door locked". (I always keep three pens/pencils in my pocket and a small stack of post-it notes to write myself reminders, etc.)
  • /2. "Cool, that sounds really interesting...let me write down the title so that I don't forget." ->write on post-it note and slip back into pocket. (Of, if you don't want to interrupt the convo, just remember it until the end and write it down then.)
  • /3. There's an obnoxious alarm that goes off in my dorm if someone keeps a door open too long, so someone's put up a sign that says "Shut the door FULLY", but it looks like "FLILLY" and greatly amuses me. In this case, I might copy "Shut the door FLILLY" onto an 8.5x11 and tape it to the fridge. (Because why not associate a positive emotion with a reminder?)
  • /4. Pull out my phone, etc and just get a list of directions from google maps that I can keep with me. If that fails, write down reminders to myself while talking to the local (and clarify/double check my interpretation to make sure that it's accurate.) Make sure that I know the general direction, etc, not just the roads. (But seriously, Google maps.)
  • /5. I'd look at this. Also, I'd make sure that I understood each ingredient of the speech, why it was where I placed it, and what purpose it served. Maximize the number of mental interconnections between the various components that you're trying to remember -- the more sense that structure makes, the better I think I'd remember it.
  • /6. Look at the first five digits, try to remember them (say them out loud while trying to remember, because multiple sensory inputs are good.). Look away from the paper, say the digits out loud. If you got it right, repeat for the first six digits. If you got it wrong, do the first five digits again (and again after that to make sure they stick) before moving to the sixth. After you get the sixth, try remembering the first seven digits, and so on until you get to the whole thing. But honestly, this is too much micro-optimization for my taste. Not much time is wasted by just looking at the card for a couple of weeks.
  • /7. Use post it notes. I don't have a less obtrusive solution for ideas that you have while in bed -- if they're important enough, I get up and write a post-it.
  • /8. Who are the main people that you want to keep in touch with? Why? How can you help them? How can they help you? Try to really grok what you're trying to do there, and why you care about connecting with each of the people. Then create Google contact entries for each, containing their name, a photo (found on the web), and brief answers to the above questions/reminders in the "notes" section. On a related note, I have trouble remembering name-face connections, so I keep many Google contacts entries and sort them into groups. Before I go to an event where I'm likely to see people in a group, I browse the contacts under that group to remind me of names and faces.
[-][anonymous]8y 0

1) As I'm locking it, I'd think of something esoteric. A celebrity from my childhood; a cake I'd quite like to eat; a historical event. Then when I experience doubt about having locked the door, the memory of locking it will be attached to something. "Oh, yeah, I definitely locked the door, because I was thinking of the Battle of Stalingrad". I tend to be thinking about esoteric things most of the time, so this happens naturally for me.

2) In this circumstance, I'd recall a short-lived advertisement for Danish Bacon from many years ago, which had the jingle "Daaaanish Bacon, Daaaanish Bacon, Yummy-yummy-yummy-yummy-yummy-yummy-yum" (I have totally failed to find this advert on YouTube, but trust me when I say the jingle is memorable, and was sung in playgrounds up and down the UK in the early 1990s). I'd then sing this song to myself, replacing the words "Danish Bacon" with "Antifragile". I will probably find myself earwormed with the new Antifragile song long enough to get online and find it.

3) I'd form a fridge-shutting ritual, perhaps where I tap or drum on the internal fixtures of the fridge, and end with a vocal refrain reminding me to shut the door.

4) I would ask for the identity of a long-standing establishment near to the new business location, and search for that. More credibly, I'd probably wind up driving around aimlessly and getting hopelessly lost.

5) I'd go for a long (several mile) walk and talk to myself for a few hours about each part of the topic, imagining I'm explaining it to a second person. I'd then maintain a bullet-pointed running order on a sheet of paper while delivering the talk, and conversationally deliver each chunk. (Disclosure: I am quite terrible at presenting things in this fashion. No-one should take my advice on it, but I would suggest that memory is a relatively small part of the problem.)

6) I'd break it into three chunks of four numbers. 0004 5878 9625. Each of these chunks has its own rhythm that forms a kind of check-value for making sure I get it right. I'd say it to myself several times. I'd maybe type it out on a keypad a couple of dozen times if I really wanted to cement it. This method may be idiosyncratic to me and people like me, though. I tend to remember numbers pretty easily.

7) I don't think there's an easy solution to this, though I'd love to hear one. Prior to sleep is a really vulnerable time for memory formation.

8) This seems like asking "how can I remember something I haven't remembered?" If you don't remember something, you don't remember it.

EDIT: Looking over other people's answers it seems quite likely I've misinterpreted the above question, but I'm still not entirely sure what it's asking.

9) Personally, 700 pages doesn't seem that daunting. I'd probably break it down section by section and write out rough topic maps, so I know where in the overall space of the subject any given fact belongs. I'd also probably use Anki or something similar to reinforce specific facts and details. I find if you read stuff, write stuff and talk about stuff, that stuff tends to stick around in your head.

I notice that a lot of my answers are musical, rhythmical or aural in nature. On a related note, a category of memory-feat I've been engaged in a lot over the past year is remembering dance routines. The various processes for remembering them are unbelievably messy amalgams of what your body feels like, what the music is doing and what the names of the steps are. It's like no other memory feat I've ever had to carry out.

Personally, 700 pages doesn't seem that daunting.

Same here, I'd take that more as a challenge to my Anki (and general learning) skills. Knowing 700 pages of modern medicine? That'd be awesome! Sure sounds more interesting than 700 pages of accounting law.

The statistics textbook I carry around to read during my downtime, and some bits of which I'm ankifying, is around 500 pages long.

The statistics textbook I carry around to read during my downtime, and some bits of which I'm ankifying, is around 500 pages long.

I think a average medicine text book has a higher information density than a statistics textbook.

Memory problems are problems of coordination between present- and future- selves.
I find that in the majority of the situation, a simple stigmergic strategy will go a long way: just unload information on your surroounding where it's probable that you will need them.
For example, Getting Things Done can be described as a very complete system for human self-coordination. Anyway, a smartphone will help you fix a lot of these.
That is:

  1. Take a picture of the closed door and name it LOCKED.

  2. This is not a memory problem but a problem of social lubrication: "Antifragile, you said? That seems very interesting, let me write that down."

  3. Attach a small note on the fridge that says "Close properly". Change position to the note every time you do it to prevent desensibilization.

  4. Unload information on your location: just remember the first few directions, then go there and ask again. When arrive, set the correct location on GPS.

  5. I use a 'mind-map watch': write your key point in a mind-map style, then arrange every branch clockwise in the sequence you want to tell it. This way you just need a token and one note to track where you are at and where you want to go.

  6. Put it in your phone in an immediately accessible location, for example as the name of an icon or the title of a note.

  7. I don't understand: is this a problem of memory or a problem of anxiety/being unable to relax? If you decide to separate work from home, this policy is against remembering things of work at home.

  8. Write the things down in your phone. Study it 10 minutes before going at the party. If you panick, you can always send yourself the text every so often and pretend to answer a message while you are just reviewing ;)

  9. It can obviously be done, by dividing, systematizing, repeating. The process just cannot be conveyed through a comment this small...