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Lesson Nine — Remembering Numbers

There is an old saying that “a short pencil is better than a long memory.”I certainly cannot dispute that.However, there is nothing more impressive than someone with a great memory.

We are all inundated with so many numbers that we have to remember.We have to remember home telephone numbers, cell phone numbers, fax numbers, social security numbers, student ID numbers, pin numbers, locker combinations, radio stations, zip codes and many more.Isn’t it amazing that we can remember as much as we do?In my memory examples in the previous chapter, I purposely avoided using any numbers.That is because remembering numbers requires a similar, but slightly different system

The problem with remembering numbers is that they are abstract. In order to remember numbers, we have to make them less abstract. The way to make them less abstract is to assign each number a sound. For example, the number one is assigned the “T” sound, or “D” sound like toy or die. The number two is given the “N” sound, like in new or know. Number three is the “M” sound, number for the R sound, like in row or rye. Number five is the “L” sound. Number six the “Sh” or “Ch” sound, like in shoe or chew. Number seven, the “K” or hard “C” sound, like in cow or kite. Number eight, the V or F sound, like in view or file. Number nine, the “B” or “P” sound, like in Pa or boy. And finally, the number zero is the “S” or “Z” sound, like in sew or zoo. Ten is one and zero or TZ, for example, toes. Vowels don’t count. So, if you want to remember the telephone number 782-6514, you could make up a word like coffin-platter. It is not much of a word, but I guarantee it will do the job, especially if you picture a coffin on a platter.

Coffin tray

You can use as many vowels as you like because as we said before, they do not count.

With a little practice, you can quickly make up a word or a sentence for any number, no matter how long or short.I use it all the time while on my cell phone in the car.Since I usually don’t have anything to write with, I make up a crazy word.One of the fun things with this method is you can write out secret numbers, like telephone numbers or your locker combination, in plain view and no one will know what it means or what to do with it.That is, unless they have read this book.

By combining this number memory method with the Association Method found in the last chapter, you could really do some amazing things.For example, suppose you wanted to remember the U.S. Presidents and the years that they were elected to office.For Abraham Lincoln, you would picture a dove carrying a block of cheese with a five-dollar bill pasted on it.Get it?Lincoln is on the five-dollar bill.The dove is “1” and “8.”The cheese is “6” and “0.”Thus, Lincoln 1-8-6-0.Abraham Lincoln, 1860.

Lincoln dove

The possibilities are endless.Of course, you have to first remember the numbers and their corresponding sounds.I can remember that number “1” is “T” because of the single vertical line on the T.And the “2” because the “N” has two vertical lines, and the 3 because the “M” has three vertical lines.”4″ is “R” because the word “four” ends in “r.” “5” is “L” because “L” is the Roman numeral for fifty.I don’t have a great way for remembering that “6” is the “sh” or “ch” sound except that I picture a shoe (which translates into the number “6”) particularly an old shoe, or an elf’s shoe, with a curly toe.”9″ is the “B” or “P” sound because “9” is a backward “P” or an upside down “B”.”0″ is the “S” or “Z” because zero starts with a “z”.The only thing I have trouble with is remembering the difference between 7 and 8.The way I remember that “7” is the “k” sound is because “k” is a very hard sound and the number “7” has sharp points or hard angles, while the number “8” is very rounded, soft curved as the “f” or “v” sound.Again, you should make up any associations or relationships that work for you.It will be much easier to remember if you make the clues up by yourself.

Let’s try some examples.1987 would be “top vac”, or “type fake”, etc.1492 could be “tarpon”, or “tour bone”, or “tear bean”, etc.To remember the date that President John F. Kennedy was shot (11/22/63) would be to picture President Kennedy riding a toad jumping on a nun who is ringing a chime.The possibilities are endless.

Remembering numbers will be a big help to you in your future success in school, work and everyday life, but not as much as your ability to remember names will be, which is what the next chapter is all about.  You might be tempted to skip over it because remembering names is not easy for you, but that’s exactly why you should read it.  If you have absolutely no trouble remembering names, I extend my congratulations to you and give my permission to skip the next chapter.  If not, take a break, get some rest, and start fresh on it tomorrow.