Reading Romeo and Juliet in high school pretty much ruined me. Without fail, anytime someone brings up Shakespeare in casual conversation (which happens to me surprisingly often), I hear in my mind, “Parting is such sweet sorrow, That I shall say good night till it be morrow,” on endless repeat. It’s annoying, but it does make me wonder about putting rhymes—and other memory tricks we all learned back in grade school—to good use.
Our brains encode memories visually, acoustically, or semantically, according to Psych Central. While small studies have been conducted around rhyming and other mnemonic devices (think: “30 days hath September…”, the fate of Henry VIII’s “six sorry wives“, and acronyms like ROYGBIV), it’s not exactly clear why they work so well to cement memories in the brain. But since you do have at least 12 years of anecdotal proof that they do, here’s how to use each as, like, an adult.
Make it rhyme. New coworkers? Gayle is the VP of Sales. Nick edits pics…This one is pretty self-explanatory.
Find an acronym. JOMO, FOMO, BBE—acronyms abound in popular culture! Beyond memes, you can DIY (see what I did there?) one to suit your learning needs. For example, The Memory Institute suggests enlisting DR. ABC (Danger, Response, Airway, Breathing, and Circulation) to guide you in administering the proper first-aid care.
Get alliterative. The possibilities are endless. (Jolly Jamie. Mystical Megan. Tall Tom.) If you struggle to remember a new name, just conjure up some alliteration on the spot.
Create an acrostic. Acrostics are a level up from acronyms, in which words stand for other words. When you were young, the phrase “Never Eat Soggy Waffles” helped you recall cardinal directions, for instance. You can use this method to remember the digits of your social security number. If yours is 123-45-6789, pick a word that begins with “O” (for the first digit, “one”) then “T” (because “two” comes next…), “T,” “F,” and so forth: Only The Turmeric Fritters Fry So Sweetly Each Night. (Hey, if it works it works.)
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