Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Journey Method (revisited)

The Journey method is a means of remembering items in sequence. The method is based on a mental journey along which is a number of stages or locations. Each stage in the journey is used as an anchor for placing the information you want to remember.

The technique is relatively easy to use as the steps of the journey should be well established in your memory provided you have chosen a familiar mental route.

1. Creating The Journey

Think about a journey you can recall easily. A good starting place is inside your home. Start in your bedroom and follow a path through each room in turn. You could leave your house and continue the journey through the garden all the way to the shopping centre, bus stop or train station.

2. Remembering Information

Information is stored by mentally walking the journey and placing the items at each stage. Pause at the location, then imagine the sights, sounds and smells of the location. Create a vivid mental image of the item you are memorising at this location.

Move on to the next stage of the journey then repeat the process with the next item. When you are finished placing all the items, review the journey and check the information at each stage

3. Recalling The Information

Recalling the items is now a matter of mentally walking the journey and pausing at each location. What is happening at this stage? Use all your senses to help recall the association you made earlier. Once you have recalled the information, move on to the next stage.

What Can You Remember With The Journey Method?

This is a great method of remembering longer lists of items. For example, if you were shown a set of 20 items and asked to remember them all, you could mentally place the items on the stages of your journey.

A deck of cards (52 in total) can be remembered using a longer journey of 52 stages.

Many Journeys

Just using one journey can be confusing for memorising multiple sets of information. Typically you could use the same journey for remembering things that can be forgotten after a while.

Dominic O'Brien (author of Quantum Memory Power and many other books on memory) recommends using different journeys for different purposes. A journey of 31 stages can be used as a mental appointment book. Another journey can he used as a mental intray.


I created a mental journey of 52 stages from my bedroom up to the footbridge of the Wahroonga railway station. I created a mental milestone every 10 steps to allow rapid access to different parts of the list. The image I use is of numbers 20 feet high glowing brightly like beacons. The milestones are useful for checking that I haven't forgotten one of the stages.

This journey is going to be used for remembering the sequence of a deck of playing cards. I won't list the stages of my journey in this article as it won't make sense, but I have a printed copy which I used to check my recall when first establishing the journey.

Practice Using The Journey

Use the journey for remembering lists of items. Gradually increase the number of items remembered. For example, remember this list of 10 items: teacup, chess set, milk, light globe, soccer ball, car keys, tape measure, mobile phone, compact disc and postage stamps.

Happy travelling on your mental journeys of memory!


  1. I've recently made an iPhone / iPod Touch app that helps you practice this technique (I'm a fan of O'Brien's work).


  2. Choose the good path to your journey.

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