Easy Ways to Remember Names and Numbers

How to Remember Names and Numbers


By Robin Westen

As I get older, it’s tougher to remember names and numbers. I know my own; tell me your phone number or be introduced in a crowd with other strangers, and the information might fly right out of my head. But there’s hope. Recently I learned strategies to help this kind of information stick. Here’s what works for me:

To remember names:

CONCENTRATE: When someone is being introduced I tell myself to focus,  and I won’t allow other distractions like background conversations or music seep in.

LOOK CLOSELY: I note special facial markings or body characteristics unique to that person, like a beauty mark or curly hair. If there is no distinct characteristic than I associate the name to something that sounds like the name. For example, if her name is Mary, I visualize her crying and remember the word “teary.”

REPEAT: After I’ve heard the name and picked out the special characteristic, I repeat it by saying something like "How are you, Mary?” or “It was nice meeting you, Mary.” 

ASK QUESTIONS: If the pronunciation is difficult, or there’s more than one possibility for spelling, I ask for help.

WRITE IT DOWN: First chance I get, I write down the name on a piece of paper.

To remember numbers: CHUNK IT:  I do this by grouping information to make it shorter to remember. A good example is remembering your Social Security Number. It consists of nine digits. Grouping the numbers by 3's helps in easily remembering it, and if by coincidence there are duplicate numbers then it’s easier to recall. MAKE A PERSONAL PICTURE:  I try to transform each digit into a visual code: For example, 0 is a planet, 1 a candle, 2 a swan, 3 puckered lips, 4 a flag, etc. Memory specialists agree it’s easier to remember pictures than numbers. SAY THEM OUT LOUD: The more I repeat the number sequence aloud, the more likely I will be set it to memory. I hope.
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