Expanding the Tool Chest

Two Dates fucked three times.  That’s a mnemonic device (the m is silent) and the hilarious imagery of two brown wrinkly pieces of fruit making the beast with two backs helps with recall and retention.  Let’s focus more on what a mnemonic device is and later we’ll circle back to what this one is helping with.

Wikipedia defines mnemonics as:

“A mnemonic device, or memory device, is any learning technique that aids information retention or retrieval (remembering) in the human memory.”

That’s a pretty good definition, but let’s get more substance.  The article continues with:

“Mnemonics make use of elaborative encoding, retrieval cues, and imagery as specific tools to encode any given information in a way that allows for efficient storage and retrieval. Mnemonics aid original information in becoming associated with something more accessible or meaningful—which, in turn, provides better retention of the information.”

Or, said another way, mnemonic devices make it easier to remember things.  

Vivid imagery, Rapid Recall

In Kevin Horsley’s book Unlimited Memory he encourages people to make their own “mind movies” by using the “The SEE Principle”.

“You can learn to enhance your memory imagination system by making your mind movies exciting and sticky.  The way to do this is with the “SEE” principle.

Use your S – Senses:  There are only five ways to get anything into your brain, and that is through sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste.  When you utilize your senses you experience more of life and you remember more.

E – Exaggeration:  Exaggerate with humor; tickle your mind.  There is no scientific evidence to prove that learning should be serious.  Make your images illogical.  Have fun; create some positive exaggerated learning memories.

E  – Energize:  Give your pictures action.”

Two pieces of fruit fornicating tickles the mind something fierce.  But what information is this ridiculous imagery helping me retrieve?  And how is it translating that information?

The information being translated are the two most frequently used keyboard shortcuts for the Google Sheets habit tracking system we’re going to go over next week.  I kept getting the shortcuts for the time and date entries confused so I set out to make an acronym or some other mnemonic device to help make it stick.

How the information is being translated is a little less straightforward.  We all relate to information differently so some people might make the connections I did after only a few repetitions and it may take others a little bit longer.  If this memory aid doesn’t make perfect sense by the end of this post don’t sweat it, we’ll be circling back to it next week.  Ok, here we go.

Two and three are the total number of strokes in each as well as being in numerical order.  Date and time are the two descriptors and are in alphabetical order.  Stick a verb between them for some imagery and you’re in business.  Mind tickling imagery accomplished.

Or, to look at it in another way, in formulaic form:


Alright, Let’s Break It Down Some More

First, we need a starting point.  The shortcut for Insert Date is Ctrl + ; and the shortcut for Insert Time is Ctrl + Shift + ;.  There’s no right or wrong way to go about deciding how you’re going to cook up this mental image for your mind’s eye to feast upon so what I usually do is just write down what I’m trying to remember on a notecard and stick it somewhere I’ll see it frequently.  Preferably I’ll see it when I’m doing the task related to the notecard (you’ll notice this tends to be one of my go-to solutions for environmental design).  Let the words simmer in your imagination and let the process speak to you.

After chewing on a couple different approaches, the double imagery evoked by “date” (being a piece of fruit or being in a romantic setting) stuck out the most.  The “mind-tickling” potential was there, and that was the main reason I didn’t try to make an acronym (a name mnemonic) or build some other association.

Over the course of the next few days, I tried all sorts of wordplay that both tickled the mind and was useful.  As is generally the case in these situations I eventually processed enough garbage to land on our x-rated gem.  Mind tickled, information transferred, device complete.

When is the Juice Worth the Squeeze?

You might be saying to yourself wow that moron spent that much time doing what now?  Sounds like a lot of work. 

And to that, I’d reply if you’re investing time and energy into building mnemonic devices purely for reasons of efficiency then you might be better off without them.  Depending on your learning style or how frequently you’ll be using the information again they might not be worth the time and effort invested.  But, for a lot of people, the creative process is fundamental to learning.  For that reason alone it makes knowing and understanding mnemonics a worthy entrant into your habit-building tool chest, even if it doesn’t see a ton of use.

And, for this device in particular, four more reasons why you’ll want to hold on to it:

  1. You’ll be using it every weeknight once you’ve set up your habit tracker in google sheets.
  2. The time and energy to make it came at zero cost to you because I’ve already done the legwork.
  3. The time invested was pretty small.  I made the card and read it over a few times during my PM Routine.
  4. I’ve spent most of this quarantine alternating between licking my windows and eating a bowl of crayons.  I’ve tasted too many rainbows since March and every once in awhile it’s time for a nice change of pace.

Alright, that’s all we’ve got for today.  Next week we go over how to make a free habit tracking system using google sheets.
See y’all next Monday,


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