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Remembering Numbers

Estimated Lesson Time: 4 minutes

In today’s computerized, smartphone, and pen recorder filled world, there seems little need to remember numbers. The truth is, despite all the gadgets available there are still times when accessing a gadget to jot down or record numbers is just inconvenient or simply not possible. For these times, we rely on “ol’ unreliable” (our memory).

Remembering people, faces, sounds, smells, sights and other more “interesting” things than numbers seems to be much easier for most people. Why is that?

Numbers, unlike most concrete objects, cannot be visualized well. They do not make a strong enough impression on the mind for us to be able to recall the numbers at will. Unlike trying to remember a vivid image, numbers just do not do well in our memories.

There IS a solution to this and a very good one at that. It is referred to by many as the “Peg System.” With the Peg System, you associate numbers 0–9 with sounds while creating words with the sounds made from the numbers you are trying to remember. Once the word is created, you vividly picture the words and associate them in a strange and memorable way. With this system, you only need to memorize ten general sounds associated with the ten numbers 0 through 9. Once you have those memorized, you will have the strategy for memorizing and recalling a number of any length, forward and backward.

First, here is what you need to memorize: there is a non-vowel sound or sounds associated with each of the ten numbers. These sounds have nothing to do with the sounds of pronouncing the numbers. If there are multiple sounds associated with a single number, you will notice that the sounds are almost the same, as in the case of number 9 with the hard “p” and “b” sound. Here are the ten numbers and their associated sounds that need to be memorized:

1 = t,d,th
2 = n
3 = m
4 = r
5 = l
6 = ch,sh,j,cz
7 = k,g,qu
8 = f,v
9 = p,b
0 = s,z,tz

Therefore, to remember the number 1, we can use the word “tie” and visualize a crazy looking, colorful tie. Even though the word “tie” also has a long “i” sound, the long “i” is not one of our ten non-vowel sounds so is ignored. These ignored sounds help us to construct words easily. Technically, because of the other sounds associated with the number 1, we can also use the word “die” or even the word “the” to remember the number 1, but the word “tie” is much easier to visualize.

In a more practical example, let us assume our gym membership number is “4268” and we need to present this number each time we check in. As we read the number, we make the sounds and start constructing the words as we can make them up. The number 42 can be the word “rain” (4 is the “r” sound and 2 is the “n” sound) and the number 68 could be the word “chef.” When we create the first word, we need to associate the first word with something that will help us to remember what the numbers are for. Better yet, if you can create a single “scene” that will reveal the number to you, then do it. My image would be rain falling from the ceiling right over the sign-in counter at the gym, and then the rain turns to chefs. This is a hard image to forget and an easy one to picture. Now each time I go to the gym, I see the mental picture and get the number 4268 from r-n-ch-f or “rain chef.”

It is referred to as the Peg System because like hanging a hat on a peg, we are “hanging” our first image (hat) on the item that is associated with the number (peg). This first association is vital because otherwise you will have a bunch of demented images floating around in your head with no home.

Remembering numbers can not only be a great party trick to impress your friends, but it can come in handy when the need arises to remember important numbers. Train your memory. Practicing this technique will not only help with your memory recall, but it will help with your creative visualization, as well.


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 Some discussion questions (some may not apply to this lesson):

  • Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
  • Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
  • What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)
    From the Course:
    Personal Development
    Year To Success
    Bo Bennett, PhD

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