The Journey Method

The journey method is a powerful, flexible and effective mnemonic based around the idea of remembering key points or landmarks on a well-known journey. It combines the narrative flow of the link and story methods and the structure and order of association based systems into one powerful technique.

You use the journey method by associating the information you want to remember with landmarks on a journey that you know well. This could be your journey to school or work in the morning; a tour around a holiday destination you’ve been to, or just an imagined route around your house.

The technique works most effectively if you prepare the journey beforehand. In this way the points on your journey are clear in your mind before you try to add information to them. One of the ways of doing this is to write down all the stops on your journey that you can recall in order on a piece of paper. This allows you to fix these as the significant points to be used in your mnemonic, separating them from others that may notice in the future.

Now to remember a list of items, whether these are people, events or objects, all you need do is associate these things with the stops on your journey.

The system is extremely flexible: to remember more items all you need do is to prepare a longer journey with more stops, and to remember a short list, only use part of the route. One advantage of this technique is that you can use it to work backwards, forwards or starting anywhere within the route to retrieve information.

Technique walkthrough

Start by imagining the house where you live, see the front door as you walk in. Then, in your mind's eye, walk through the house visiting every room in turn, just as if you were really doing it. Now pick 10 specific places in your house, these can be individual rooms or specific pieces of furniture, so that as you walk round your house in your imagination, you visit each place in turn in the same order each time.

Lets say the 10 points on your journey were: The front door, a table in the hallway, a sofa, the TV, your fridge/freezer, the stairs, your bed, the wardrobe, the bath, and the bathroom sink.

Now lets use this short journey to remember something simple like a shopping list:
Coffee, salad, vegetables, bread, toilet paper, fish, chicken breasts, pork chops, soup, fruit, orange juice.

Your mnemonic journey might therefore appear as:

1. Front door: spilt coffee grains on the doormat,
2. Lettuce leaves and tomatoes growing out of your hallway table
3. Potatoes, onions and cauliflower all stacked up on your sofa
4. An arch of French bread bent over the television
5. The fridge and freezer are all wrapped in toilet roll
6. Some haddock and cod are flapping their tails trying to swim up the stairs
7. Chickens squawking and flapping around on your bed
8. A pig comes charging out of the wardrobe
9. The bath is filled up with tomato soup
10. Fresh oranges are pouring out of the tap in your sink.

Because you’re so familiar all the stops within your house you won’t miss any of the items. Try it for yourself and see.


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