While similar to acronyms, acrostics use the first letter of each word to create a new and memorable phrase.
Rather than the ‘homes’ acronym we used above to remember the names of the Great Lakes, we could create a phrase like:
This acrostic has a double advantage, because it uses water-related imagery in keeping with the “lakes” theme. It also adds a little ‘crazy’, and therefore memorable image of a floating surfboard.
For other examples, see Memory Hack.
In your own practice, you may find that acronyms are easier to use than acrostics because when it comes time to recall the information, “decoding” an acronym takes one less step to remember.
This strategy is premised on making lists easier to remember through the use of chunking.
What does that look like? Let’s think about our grocery list when we head out to the store.
Remembering two items (such as “pancakes and hotdogs”) is much easier than trying to remember twelve (flour, eggs, milk, syrup, lemon, buns, sausages, relish, mustard, ketchup, hot peppers, fries).
Even if you remember the recipes for each item you want to make, adding a little structure to your shopping list by grouping them together in categories can make it much easier to remember!
The example below shows you what an un-chunked shopping list looks like, and how much easier it can be to read and remember when you are looking at a grocery list that has been organized into chunks:
Successful categories rely on making appropriate associations and the level of meaning each item has for you.
See the example below for some inspiration on how to categorize your next shopping list.The chunking technique is not only useful for to-do or grocery lists… it can also be applied to processes.
Take painting for example. You have a plan to spend the day painting your bedroom. How can we chunk this process you ask? Well let’s think of it in 3 parts (or chunks):
Chunk 1: Preparation
Chunk 2: Painting
Chunk 3: Clean-up
Now we can categorize the activities associated with each chunk:
So what about when you’re reading a passage of text (long or short) and are having trouble remembering the information you’re looking at?
Chunking can also be used to simplify text and make it easier to remember key parts or details. When applied to reading material, chunking can be an effective way to break down difficult information into smaller, more manageable ‘bites’.
This technique is especially useful for identifying key words or ideas, and it can help foster your ability to paraphrase – something we do in written and spoken language all the time! Using the chunking technique can also be helpful when we want to organize and blend information from multiple or different sources.
See the steps below to better understand how to use chunking with text materials:Need smaller steps? Try these variations below once you have selected your passage of text: