Mnemonics and memory aids

Mnemonics and Memory Aids


Now I’m 80 I find I can’t remember details like I once could.  So now I need my written shopping list, and I need to write notes in my diary more than before. I’ve used a diary with a double-page per week for decades. It’s simple to use and easy to see each week’s events at a glance. Smartphone users will apply this to their phone’s notepad or diary.

For over 50 years I’ve added a red biro phrase from my daily Bible reading in my diary. And yes, there were times when I skipped some days (either not reading or not noting). Some days, when I was busy I just noted a text from memory – usually comforting ones like “I am with you always” (Mt 28:20) or “I will help you” (Isaiah 41:10) or other favourites.  It’s easy to do – and even a 30-second pause to remember and pray can make a huge difference – see The Healing Power of Prayer, by a medical doctor. He writes:

“The best times of day are first thing in the morning and right before bed. However you can pray in the car on the way to work, in line at the grocery store, sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, or before you eat your meals. Even a mere 30 seconds of prayer, acknowledging God and giving thanks for all the blessings in your life, can have a powerful effect on your body, mind, and spirit.” 

I have my diary and two biros by my bed, now accompanied by my smartphone (for its not so smart user). Those accumulated diaries make interesting reading – at least for me. Much of my history is there, including daily meditations on God’s Word. Those meditations accompany my notes, appointments, and plans, and they become a record of God’s goodness and leading.

Here are a few ideas for mnemonics or memory aids.


We all make lists of things to do. It’s handy to have stick-on notes or a small tear-off notepad for shopping lists. Add items until you need to tear off the top page and take it with you. Some of you make notes or lists on your smartphone! My smartphone lists include anointed songs or choruses I hear at church, ready to use or pass on anytime.

Your lists of things to do probably need at least two categories: soon and later. Your smartphone or computer can be useful for those lists – you’ll adjust them often. It’s nice when you delete items – they’re done, or forget-it! My computer desktop, and phone have pages with lists that I can adjust easily.


Birthdays and Anniversaries: Facebook reminds me of birthdays, and it’s easy to send a greeting. Each December or January I add family birthdays and anniversaries to my new diary. The double page annual Planner at the front is especially useful for that. Many of you will use your smartphone calendar. I find a perpetual journal or diary handy, so I published one with a double page per week and a devotional picture on each page. See the Devotional Journal and Planner.


Memory aids can be a fun way to remember what you want to remember.  Here are some examples.

People’s names: Link a person’s name to a vivid picture, eg. a Bible story for Peter, Paul, and Mary, or for David and Jonathan, and so on.

A Handful: Link up to 5 items to each finger, eg Ephesians 4:11 – ministry gifts:
0 Eph 4,11 hand


Two handfuls: Link 1-10 items to rhyming words for the numbers 1-10: bun, shoe, tree, door, hive, sticks, heaven, gate, vine hen. Some people prefer devon for 7 – an easier visual! Memorizing these rhyming words can be a fun activity for kids.

One way to ‘memorize’ the 10 commandments (Exodus 20) is to visualize each number as a rhyming image:
1 Bun:     No other gods – bun shaped as a god
2 Shoe:   No idols – shoe hung on idol’s feet
3 Tree:    No swearing – fall from tree swearing
4 Door:   Remember Sabbath – church door
5 Hive:    Honour parents – beehive family
6 Sticks:  No murder – kill with sticks
7 Heaven: No adultery – no marriage/divorce there
8 Gate:    No stealing – thief creeps through gate
9 Vine:    No lies – vineyard owner exaggerates
10 Hen:  No coveting – wanting friend’s fat hen

See the Blog God’s Positive Will: A Christian paraphrase of the 10 Commandments.

For a more challenging 1-10 mnemonic, try the I AM statements of Jesus:
1 Bun:  I am the bread of life (John 6:35)
2. Shoe:  I am the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6)
3 Tree:  I am the good shepherd – in tree’s shade (John 10:11)
4 Door:  I am the door (John 10:9)
5 Hive:  I am the resurrection and the life – sit on a hive! (John 11:25)
6 Sticks:  I am the light of the world – fire-stick or light on a stick) (John 8:12)
7 Heaven: I am (John 8:58)
8 Gate: I am the first and the last – through the gate (Rev 22:13)
9 Vine: I am the true vine (John 15:1)
10 Hen: I am alpha & omega, the beginning and the end (Revelation 1:8; 22:13)
You can, of course, Google these on your smartphone – but it’s fun to remember them too.
Now close your eyes and see how many of the 10 you can remember! You may be surprised.


I just discovered I can spell ‘ageing’ both ways – after I thought ‘aging’ looked weird. I’m old enough to have to visit the GP for annual checks for my driver’s license and a health check, such as being able to recall random words like house, dog, and bus, after being distracted. Visualizing the words in order makes it easy: a house where the dog chases the bus. So a year later I can still remember the ‘random’ words, in order!

However, remembering if I’ve done routine tasks, like eating fruit or taking daily medication, is more tricky. Some people have containers with compartments for daily pills, but I don’t need that. I do need to put some pills out each day so I know if I’ve taken them. Some days the ‘morning’ vitamin diet is still out later in the day, so I’m prompted to have them. It’s a bit like remembering to have an apple a day to keep the doctor away.

Well, that’s just a brief summary of useful mnemonics and memory aids. I’ve probably forgotten other ideas, but that’s it for now, and I can add more ideas later to this Blog. So if I get another random idea, I can just add it to my list till I get back to blogging.

Add your comment if you’d like to help other people with other useful ideas.


PS. I wonder what Blog Index this Blog fits! I guess it’s closest to Devotional.

















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