The Number Rhyme System (“NRS”) is about as simple a mnemonic peg system as you will find. The NRS combines a rhyme, e.g., one is for “gun” and two is for “shoe,” with vivid imagery to associate a particular object with its corresponding position on the list. The process by which you use the rhymed word as an association is called mnemonic pegging [unfortunately] or hooking. Think of your NRS rhymes as hooks on which to hang the items you want to be remembered. By mentally reviewing your Number Rhyme System list, you will be able to remember any ten items effortlessly with just a little practice. It’s definitely an easy mind hack to boost your memory because it can be done with relative ease.
Here’s a simple example using the things I should take with me each time I leave my apartment:
MY NUMBER RHYME SYSTEM
1 – Gun – Keys
Picture a gun with keys firing out of the barrel.
2 – Shoe – Wallet
Picture a dirty shoe about to step on my wallet.
3 – Tree – iPhone
Picture the tree from Now You See Me, but with an iPhone contained inside the glass. I can hear the phone ringing when I see the tree.
4 – Door – Headphones
Picture a black door with a giant white earbud for a handle.
5 – Hive – Phone charging cable and adapter
Picture the charging cable tied tightly around a bee hive with angry bees flying all around.
6 – Sticks – watch
Picture the watch strapped to a sharp stick being thrown like a javelin.
7 – Heaven – pen
Picture a hand drawing clouds with the pen catching the light so that you can’t help but notice it glitter.
8 – Gate – Moleskine
Picture a giant Moleskine notebook situated among a fence-line where they gate would go.
9 – Wine – Sunglasses
Picture a dog wearing sunglasses and holding a wine bottle.
10 – Hen – iPad
Picture a chickens’ roost with hens that lay iPads instead of eggs.
Pretty simple, right? By creating a relevant, vivid imagery, the Number Rhyme System allows you to always be able to remember a particular set of 10 items (so long as you run through the entire list). The more vivid the picture, the better the Number Rhyme System will work. In my experience, the more absurd the picture, the better the results. What’s more, you can actually “clear” your list and “reprogram” the pegs — very useful to remember a grocery list each week, for example.
MY EXPERIENCE USING THE NUMBER RHYME SYSTEM
Since I started employing this technique, the only time I forgot an item from my list was when I didn’t run through it entirely in my mind. Bonus tip: put the most important things first, so if you are in a hurry and forget to run through your entire list, you’re more likely to grab the most essential. Just be sure you can make the images as memorable as possible.
I found that writing my NRS out a few times while imagining the absurd scenarios really helped it stick. For those with more time on their hands – or for those completely visual learners – I’ve heard that creating a collage depicting the imagery for each rhyme can be helpful. Dubious that it would work (i.e., be an efficient use of your time) if you want to constantly change your list, but for all the other times, it should be just fine.