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TIP - Remembering - Associations

The Association Method

The "association method" is a useful approach to remembering a series of items, situation, or sequence of activities/operations, particularly if their a specific order is important.

I used this to remember pronouns in secondary school . . . by creating a "mental story" of "scenes" to associate each (and every) preposition required by my teacher.

Suppose you need to "prepare for" an impromptu meeting with a senior executive, and for which a note card would be inappropriate. Then you might consider using the association method to construct a "story of images" that directly link the sequence of images, in sequence, to topics or questions that you want to discuss with the executive.

  1. Write or imagine the list of topics you want to discuss
  2. Pick a context for your "story," such as a trip abroad, to the grocery store, or a workout
  3. Associate each topic in your list with -- in the case of a workout -- each machine or exercise:
    • Greetings and small talk :: Sign-in
    • Introduce your issue of expanding sales :: Stretching
    • Acknowledge the challenges in launching products :: Bench press
    • Share your ideas for attracting customers :: Curls
    • Need to recruit new employees :: Short Run
    • Your ideas for financing the new venture :: Knee Bends / Squats
    • How to keep the operation efficient :: Sit-ups
    • Performance measurement :: Cool-down
    • Etc.
  4. Practice visualizing (or expressing your story out-loud) so that you remember the sequence, and as important, that you keep the association between the story to the real topic / task
  5. The more your story evokes a positive emotion in you, the more likely you are to remember the story

Tip: Try to weave a story that is logically connected, each step from the one before, but also consistent throughout (in setting or topic) so that if you miss one step you can remember everything else afterwards . . .


My New Business Idea (an "elevator speech" to a prospective investor):

"After work (=planning), I'm going to the bank (=seed finances), then to the video store (=advertising), then to day care (=human resources), and the grocery store (=operating funding). I'll cook dinner (=product development) using frozen foods (=copy from competitors) in the microwave (=using contract manufacturers), and paper plates (=simple, low cost products), so we can all go in a van (=using distributors) to the theater (=and trade shows) in time for the late movie (=and target the mass market)."

With practice, you should have an inventory of "stories" or scripts in memory for use at any time.


When well done, these stories can stick with you for a lifetime, as my mental story has for remembering (some) prepositions (from grade school!!):

about, above, across, against, along, amid, among, around, at, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, beyond, by, despite, down, during, except, for, from, in, inside, into, . . .


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