The Journey Method
When it come to a highly effective, powerful, and moderately easy memorisation technique to use, the journey method offers the flexibility and average learning investment to make it a serious contender for students and others who want to increase their memory recall. This chapter provides a detailed explanation of the method and why it can be such an effective tool.
It works pretty much just like it sounds: it is about picking landmarks on a well-travelled journey as a way of helping you remember what you need to recall. Much of the action involve in it incorporates the narrative idea and flow found with the linking and story methods with the structure of the Peg Systems, a commonly utilised mnemonic method. We typically use landmarks every day to get us from point A to point B and back again as well as use them to provide directions to other people.
These landmarks are really visual images that jog our memories to streets and turns that we need to take and make. Since you already most likely have many journeys with landmarks recorded in your head, it makes sense to code information for memory recall by incorporating these "knowns." This also saves you the time and effort of having to develop visualisations because they are already done! Here are some common journeys you could use:
- The journey to and from work;
- The route to a friend’s house or a family member’s house;
- The trip to school;
- The way to and from a favourite holiday destination; or
- The imaginary journey found in a video game or book.
Whatever works most effectively as an easy journey for you should be what you pick for this technique.
Your first step after picking the journey is to prepare the route. Here’s what you can do:
- Write down all the landmarks before you try to code information to them.
- Consider these landmarks as stops along the route.
- Make associations with these landmarks that ties the information you need to code to the landmark.
Let’s use a grocery list as the information that must be coded and the journey as the route to the local shop:
- The list is coffee, vegetables, bread, kitchen roll, fish, chicken, soup, fruit and laundry detergent.
- The journey starts by going out the front door, which has coffee stains on the doormat from the hot coffee taken each morning in the car.
- The garden patch to the right of the front gate holds some vegetables.
- The garage where I pull the car out is long and brown like a loaf of bread.
- The road to the shop rolls out ahead of me like an unravelling kitchen roll.
- I go over the bridge and past the river where fish jump about.
- I drive past the shops with a sign, showing two chickens flapping their wings.
- At the corner just past the city centre, I take the roundabout shaped like a can of soup.
- The next corner holds a park with trees that may be hiding apples and other fruit.
- I park next to the launderette and laundry detergent.
Each place is also tied to an item on the shopping list. Getting that down means not having to write out a list!
This very flexible technique can be extended so that you can eventually remember even longer lists of information and code as much as you possibly can – just know that your journey may have to increase as well! Students have found this successful in memorising all types of lists, including:
- Lists of kings or presidents;
- Elements in the periodic table;
- Geographical information; and
- States and countries.
While some memorisation techniques only work for long-term or short-term, the journey method works well for both. Here’s how:
- For short-term memory, keep specific journeys in your head just for that purpose so you can override the previous coding each time you need to use that journey so that you can associate new pieces of information to those landmarks.
- For long-term memory, keep a journey specific for that purpose that is not used over and over like it would be for short-term memory.
Like the linking method, it can be used backwards and forwards. You can even start up your journey at any point in the route to just retrieve the coded information from that point onwards rather than from the beginning each time. This system can also be integrated with other types of mnemonics. Here’s how:
- Build complex coding visualisations at the landmark points along the journey where links are then created to other mnemonics at those stops and then moving onwards.
- Leverage a Peg System to organise the journeys you have visualised into various lists for use in different recall needs. This should be effective as each location/landmark and the accompanying form or information is distinct from the next.
Just remember that, like the other memorisation tools, you will need to invest your time and considerable effort, but the payoff is well worth it in what can become enhanced short-term and long-term memory recall.
Now that you are mastering some of the effective techniques, it is time to move on to some very powerful memory recall systems.