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The Journey Method
The journey method is a powerful, flexible and effective mnemonic based around the idea of remembering landmarks on a well-known journey. In many ways it combines the narrative flow of the Link Method and the structure and order of the Peg Systems into one highly effective mnemonic.
Because the journey method uses routes that you know well, you can code information to be remembered to a large number of easily visualised or remembered landmarks along the routes. Because you know what these landmarks look like, you need not work out visualisations for them!
Mind Tools Mnemonic Grades:
Ease of Use - moderate Effectiveness - good Power - powerful Learning investment - moderate Who should use - everyone
How to Use the Journey Method
The journey method is based on using landmarks on a journey that you know well.
This journey could, for example, be your journey to work in the morning, the route you use to get to the front door when you get up in the morning, the route to visit your parents, or a tour around a holiday destination. It could even be a journey around the levels of a computer game. Once you are familiar with the technique you may be able to create imaginary journeys that fix in your mind, and apply these.
Preparing the Route
To use this technique most effectively, it is often best to prepare the journey beforehand so that the landmarks are clear in your mind before you try to commit information to them. One way of doing this is to write down all the landmarks that you can recall in order on a piece of paper. This allows you to fix these landmarks as the significant ones to be used in your mnemonic, separating them from others that you may notice as you get to know the route even better.
You can consider these landmarks as stops on the route. To remember a list of items, whether these are people, experiments, events or objects, all you need do is associate these things or representations of these things with the stops on your journey.
For example, I may want to remember something mundane like a shopping list:
Coffee, salad, vegetables, bread, kitchen paper, fish, chicken breasts, pork chops, soup, fruit, bath cleaner.
I may choose to associate this with my journey to the supermarket. My mnemonic images therefore appear as:
1. Front door: spilt coffee grains on the doormat 2. Rose bush in front garden: growing lettuce leaves and tomatoes around the roses. 3. Car: with potatoes, onions and cauliflower on the driver's seat. 4. End of the road: an arch of French bread over the road 5. Past garage: with sign wrapped in kitchen roll 6. Under railway bridge: from which haddock and cod are dangling by their tails. 7. Traffic lights: chickens squawking and flapping on top of lights 8. Past church: in front of which a pig is doing karate, breaking boards. 9. Under office block: with a soup slick underneath: my car tyres send up jets of tomato soup as I drive through it. 10. Past car park: with apples and oranges tumbling from the top level. 11. Supermarket car park: a filthy bath is parked in the space next to my car!
Extending the Technique
This is an extremely effective method of remembering long lists of information: with a sufficiently long journey you could, for example, remember elements on the periodic table, lists of Kings and Presidents, geographical information, or the order of cards in a shuffled pack of cards.
The system is extremely flexible also: all you need do to remember many items is to remember a longer journey with more landmarks. To remember a short list, only use part of the route!
Long and Short Term Memory
You can use the journey technique to remember information both in the short term memory and long term memory. Where you need to use information only for a short time, keep a specific route (or routes) in your mind specifically for this purpose. When you use the route, overwrite the previous images with the new images that you want to remember. To symbolise that the list is complete, imagine that the route is blocked with cones, a 'road closed/road out' sign, or some such.
To retain information in long term memory, reserve a journey for that specific information only. Occasionally travel don it in your mind, refreshing the images of the items on it.
One advantage of this technique is that you can use it to work both backwards and forwards, and start anywhere within the route to retrieve information.
Using the Journey System with other Mnemonics
This technique can be used in conjunction with other mnemonics, either by building complex coding images at the stops on a journey, linking to other mnemonics at the stops, moving onto other journeys where they may cross over. Alternatively, you may use a peg system to organise lists of journeys, etc.
To enhance the images used for this technique, see the article on Using mnemonics more effectively.
The journey method is a powerful, effective method of remembering lists of information, whether short or long, by imagining images and events at stops on a journey.
As the journeys used are distinct in location and form, one list remembered using this technique is easy to distinguish from other lists.
Some investment in preparing journeys clearly in your mind is needed to use this technique. This investment is, however, paid off many times over by the application of the technique.