Memory Techniques: Chunking and Categorization
Chunking helps you retain longer sets of information by condensing it into something more manageable and familiar. Phone numbers, for example, are one of the most common types of chunking. Number 0 1 8 5 4 3 7 7 2 8 9 2 are more easily stored and accessed when they are grouped together, such as 01-854-337-2892.
Seven is considered the magic number in memory studies across the United States. The number differs for other cultures, but in the U.S. most people are able to remember seven digits of a phone number, or seven chunked groups. Making your “chunks” or groups have a certain significance to you will aid in your ability to remember them. For example, if you have a string of letters: I BM MB AMI T UCL A it would help to form them into recognizable acronyms such as: IBM MBA MIT UCLA. This way, I can form the chaos into something ordered and remember it more clearly.
Now, not all random bits of information are going to be presented that fit so nicely in recognizable acronyms. But finding patterns to “chunk” into is a strength you can develop. A long distance runner attempting to memorize numbers may chunk numbers into different relevant mile times. This allows the expert runner to memorize more numbers by making them relevant to him or herself. As a result, they will be able to remember more chunks.
Categorization is a similar method, but breaks up items and groups them according to a familiar category. Organizing an unordered list and labeling the lists aids in remembering.
This list is long and scattered, making it difficult to remember. Plus, when you’re in the grocery store, you’ll be running around isle through isle, trying to find your necessities. But if you group them by type, you’ll have a much easier list to remember, and you can map out the sections you’ll be visiting in the store for a more efficient trip.
Dairy: eggs, milk, yogurt
Meat: chicken, salmon
Grain: oatmeal, bread, rice