Can You Really Improve Memory Like Sherlock Holmes? [Actionable 11 Point Checklist]

Can You Really Improve Memory Like Sherlock Holmes?Imagine receiving thousands of emails from people asking you, “Can you really improve memory like Sherlock Holmes?”

What would you tell them?

Would you say…

“Oh yes, of course. Just use the best memorization technique all the hip kids are using these days.”

Or would you say…

“Sorry. Too busy. I must go to my Mind Palace!”

Well, as the man with all the memory exercises and memory improvement know-how…

I have to take a third path.

And I always give people an answer that breaks my heart!

But here’s the truth of the matter…

You Can’t Improve Memory Like
Sherlock Holmes Because…
The Dude Isn’t Real!


How can any honest and ethical person tell you that such a thing is possible?

How can you create a Memory Palace (or Mind Palace) like Sherlock Holmes and experience substantial memory improvement when that person doesn’t exist?

And yet other memory trainers use this metaphor all the time.

Sherlock Holmes in a Memory Palace

They use it as their “marketing hook.”

That’s right.

And even if it’s false advertising, it works.

But what those marketers are really saying is something more like this:

“Hey, how would you like to memorize information like a fictional coke addict who walks with a cane?”


“How about becoming like someone who treats his sidekick Watson like a dim-witted moron?”

No thanks.

I don’t know about you, but…

I Want Real Memory Improvement!

And as much as I’d like to stop the misrepresentation of the real glory of memory techniques, the world of marketing is what it is. Unless you know how to memorize these classical copywriting headlines.


I suggest you remember Caveat Emptor in the wild world of online memory training.

But here’s the very good news:

If you want to know about a memory method that really will help you improve memory, you’re in the right place.

After all, memory isn’t really at the core of Sherlock Holmes.

Here’s the real deal:

Medical Anatomy skeleton image related to memory techniques

It was medical deduction for the diagnosis of disease that influenced Arthur Conan Doyle, not detective work. And it’s this kind of medical detective the books and movies really base themselves on.

All that aside, here’s what we’ll be doing in this Sherlock Holmes continuation post:

I’m going to provide you with an 11-Point checklist that will make sure you’re on the right track.

Are you ready to get started?

You are?


Let’s go!

The Ultimate 11 Point Improve Memory Checklist

So with all that ground covered, let’s get started with the ultimate checklist for improving your memory.

Do all these things and you’re guaranteed to have a memory sharper than you ever dreamed possible!

1. Learn the Memory Palace technique first.


A few reasons.

First, there are a lot of terms out there for the different memorization techniques you can learn.

But the Memory Palace is the only one that taps into the most significant memory power:

Spatial memory.

Second, the Memory Palace enables you to use the other memory techniques you’ll learn about inside them.

I’m talking about the link method, the Major System, the mnemonic peg system and so on. There are lots of terms and we’ve clarified them in this post with 5 Memory Palace Examples To Improve Your Memory Training Practice.

Why seek so much clarity?

So we can master the fundamentals first. That’s how the Magnetic Memory Method ensures you can actually use the skills for life.

Magnetic Memory Method Free Memory Improvement Course

Without struggle.

Without constant questions about what to do and how to do it.

Without fear of making mistakes at every corner.

The Major Path To Fast Success With Memory Improvement

2. Learn the Major System.

“The Major” as the memory technique veterans refer to it involves associating numbers with letters of the alphabet.

The Major has also been called the phonetic mnemonic system and the digit-consonant system.

Whatever you call it, here’s what it looks like:

Major System on the Magnetic Memory Method

Why learn to memorize numbers?

First, even in the age of smartphones and online calculators, they’re still super-important.

You still need to know the phone numbers of your loved ones in case you lose your device.

Not only that, but when you create a Magnetic Memory Palace, you can give each Magnetic Station within a number.

That way, when you’re using the Memory Palace to encode and decode the information, it’s easy to move directly to the information you placed inside.

Once you have the Major System working, you’ll also be able to:

Remember passwords
Bank account numbers
Historical dates and birthdays
… and anything else involving numbers!

To make this happen, you’ll want to create what some people call a P.A.O or a 00-99 list.

If you’d like more information, I’ve included my own mnemonic examples in How to Memorize Math, Numbers, Simple Arithmetic and Equations.

How To Memorize History:
Mnemonic Example Of How Having A “Magnetic” 00-99 P.A.O.

When you have a proper 00-99, any time you see a number, you instantly have a Person, and action and on object pop into your mind.

This simple mnemonic tool is better than any vitamins for memory improvement on the market.

For example, I wanted to memorize some dates about George Washington not too long ago while reading Richard Brookhiser’s book on Washington’s leadership skills.

George Washington Mnemonic Example Magnetic Memory Method

According to Brookhiser, Congress made Washington Commander in Chief of the military in 1775. This post lasted until 1783.

I instantly memorized these dates by placing some Magnetic Imagery in a Memory Palace.

The mnemonic examples I used?

First, I used my image of George Washington himself. I’ve seen paintings and stone carvings of the dude, so I have a relatively decent idea of how he looks.

How To Mix Major System P.A.O. Mnemonics For Historical Dates

Second, I needed to remember that 17 is involved because these dates took place in the 1700s.

To do that, I have George Washington equipped with some very sharp tacks.

In the Major Method, 1 = d or t and 7 = k.

Put those two together to form a word like “tack.”

Next, to this image of George Washington with tacks, I have him shoving these into John Cale.

Yeah, that hurts, and that’s why it’s memorable (Sorry John Cale!)

Now, you might not know John Cale or his loose relationship to the history of binaural beats via Lou Reed, which is why you need to get into real memory training. It will help you instantly create these associations when you need them.

The point is that Cale (pronounced “kale”) starts with a hard “k” sound and ends with an “l.”

That’s perfect because all I need to do is think of George Washington putting tacks into Cale in my Memory Palace and then I can recall 1775 in a snap.

Just Get Started And The Rules of The Major System Will Set You Free

Tony Buzan

You can do this too if you dive into these techniques and start creating your associations from 00-99. Don’t overthink it. As my mentor, Tony Buzan says, “the rules will set you free.”

Briefly, I know this period for Washington ended in 1783 (according to Brookheiser) because, in the same Memory Palace, I can sense George Washington interacting strangely with George Orwell.

George Orwell wrote “Animal Farm” and he is spraying “foam” at the cast of “fame” in this image.


Because F = 8 in the Major System and 3 = M. “Farm,” “foam” and “Fame” all compound together to make the association bulletproof.

Animal Farm George Orwell Foaming Cast of Fame Mnemonic Example

Brookheiser tells us that the actual Washington presidency took place between 1789 and 1797, two numbers I now know by heart.

Why? Well, as strange as it is:

I see Cobra Commander with his viper symbol bashing Peter Parker with a puck.

Viper = 89
Parker/puck = 97

It’s that simple. Every 2-digit number has an image like this. All that needs to happen in your mind is this:

Get them interacting in weird and unusual ways in a Memory Palace. With a small amount of practice, you’ll learn to remember vast amounts of information.

Ever hear Sherlock Holmes talk about doing stuff like this in his “Mind Palace?”

No way, hombre. Sherlock Holmes isn’t real.

3. Learn Recall Rehearsal (a.k.a. Spaced Repetition)

You know why we call it “Recall Rehearsal” in the Magnetic Memory Method universe.

A few reasons:

First, it doesn’t count as spaced repetition. That sounds hard, annoying and… lame.

Second, a well-formed Magnetic Memory Palace Network is like a series of theaters.

In these theaters, you call your players for “rehearsal.”

So when I ask my mind about the dates for George Washington’s terms as a military commander and the first President of the United States…

I’m NOT replaying a movie.

No, I’m a theatre director. I know which theatre the play takes place in and I call my actors to the stage.

Then I ask:

What were they doing there?



And other questions to trigger back the associations.

And I do it only as many times as needed to get the information into long-term memory for as long as I need the info.

But spaced-repetition…

I find it’s a waste of time without Magnetic Imagery involved.

Plus, Recall Rehearsal puts the Magnetic in the Magnetic Memory Method by making it easy, fun and effective.

And it’s the only way to develop a mnemonics dictionary in your mind for instant and rapid use of memory techniques.

Dominic O’Brien And The Rule Of Five

With practice, you can reduce the number of repetitions needed to a shockingly low level, though of course, Dominic O’Brien’s Rule of Five is worth your attention, but…

Don’t go wishing and praying for a magic number.

Learn these skills for yourself and the principles that make them work.Dominic O'Brien

That’s the fast and easy path to real memory magic. And it’s better than even the best improve memory games on the market.

But some other guy’s “memory system” or spaced-repetition number will never be as robust as your own. Earn the success you want through experience. It’s a beautiful thing.

More on How To Improve Memory Recall Better Than Sherlock Holmes

Now that you know the truth about using a Memory Palace and use it to place information into long-term memory, here are some additional tips that will help.

Pay attention to each of these because they are essential to your success. These tips are critical to the long-term health of your brain and memory.

4. Eat a memory-friendly diet.

It’s true:

Foods that improve memory – and foods you should avoid – can make or break your memory.

Walnuts, blueberries, green tea – these have all been shown to give your memory a boost better than any improve memory supplements on the market.

5. Exercise.

I go to the gym three days a week. It keeps my body fit, as well as my brain.

The best part?

I’m able to perform Recall Rehearsal while pumping iron and hitting the treadmill.

I also walk frequently and do pushups and yoga at home.

Every bit of fitness helps protect your brain and memory.

6. Reduce Multitasking

(Except when using the particular form of multitasking in a Memory Place we’ve been talking about today.)

Seriously. People who want to learn faster are damaging their chances of success by holding multiple open tabs and reading from devices enabled with notification options.

Speaking of which…

7. Sleep Without Devices In Your Room

If you want to improve your memory, improve your sleep.

It seems unrealistic these days, but it’s getting more important every day:

We need to unplug from the Internet.

We need time away from the machines that use algorithms to shape what we see and how we think.

Personally, every time I stray from my computer curfew…

I regret it.

Not only does my memory suffer…

I make bad decisions.

I get a bit paranoid.

I feel less well.

By protecting the bedroom and using my re-reading strategy with real books, I create a buffer zone around my sleep that works very well.

Oh, and I use a sleeping mask too. Highly recommended.

8. Use app-free brain exercises

Brain exercises are important. And the best evidence shows that when you use apps to get it…

You’re getting horrible results.

The only ones ever shown to work in any impressive way set you up with one-on-one coaching on the other end. In other words, it’s not the app alone getting you the mental fitness results.

But if you’re willing to learn some of these brain exercises, you’ll quickly find boosts in focus, attention and memory.

I’ve shared many exercises to improve memory and concentration, so please be sure to listen to the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast frequently so you don’t miss any of them.

9. Learn new mental and motor skills.

The obvious suggestion here is music. Pick up the guitar, piano and French Horn.

But it could also be painting where you learn about shapes, lighting and the color wheel.

Or you could learn to juggle, code a website or learn a language. There are many things you can do. The important thing is to take action and get results.

10. Know the difference between mild forgetfulness and full-blown memory loss

Every person must take full responsibility for the state of their memory.

Just as we monitor our heart rate and respiration, we need to put thought into the functioning of the mind.

To understand this critical difference, I’d start with listening to this memory loss with Jennie Gorman. She was able to recover her memory quickly with just one simple tweak. It’s the kind of solution many people would never think to investigate.

Then there’s brain trauma. Listen to Michael Gusman talk about how he used memory techniques to overcome these issues following a nearly fatal car accident.

Continuing to educate yourself about the role of memory in your life and the health of your brain is indeed your best weapon.

11. Learn to use a variety of mnemonic devices (and never stop)

If there’s one thing we can find legitimately inspiring in the Sherlock Holmes stories, it’s that the dude seems to keep learning.

And more than learning, he keeps thinking about the things he knows.

So although no one can improve their memory to be like an unrealistic fictional character, you can be you.


You can be the best possible version of yourself. All you need to do is keep learning how to use your mind.

That’s what the Magnetic Memory Method website is here to help you accomplish.

Are You Ready To Take Your Skills To The Next Level?

If so, pick something you want to learn that will improve your life. Now you have the tools to learn it quickly and easily.

And when you need more information on how to improve memory for any learning goal, remember to come back to the well.

The Magnetic Memory Method Family will be here for you.

10 Responses

  1. Hi Anthony, I follow your articles and you showed me to be, in addition to a true professional, a great person who does not tell lies just to sell, thank you!

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Caleb.

      Yes, we constantly battle against the charlatans from the Magnetic Memory Method Headquarters – with love, of course.

      Truth is the highest ideal and when it comes to memory, we have the most perfect science. You either remember something or you don’t . You either use the techniques or you don’t. And when the techniques help, you always know it.

      Thanks for the comment and look forward to your next post here on the blog!

  2. Well each of your podcasts gives even more information, new ideas, encouragement, and ways to implement the Memory Palace than before! I’m so glad to spend enjoyable time running around in the wondrous worlds/rooms/buildings from both my past and present, that I’ve redecorated with new information inside my head! Thank you for all you do!

  3. Sherlock Holmes, as with characters created by Agatha Christie and Earl Stanley Gardner (a la “Perry Mason”), is algebra personalized.
    The writers begin with the solution, then work backwards, deconstructing, or in the language of Silicon Valley, backward engineering

    For example, Holmes can develop who someone is before the person gives any clues–Watson shaming–because Doyle has set Watson up.

    In the TV series “House,” Dr. House has epiphanies thanks to the work of the writers starting with the ailment, and, of course, House’s white board, working backward.

    Here, behind the scenes, David Shore, the creator, and writers build on the work of such writers as the NY Times’ writer Lisa Sanders (

    I believe at some point she was a “House” behind the scene one of the medical consultants. For example, yellow in the eyes indicate lever issues, but the writers now must come up with making this normal medical practice of a doctor a special issue–that is, hiding the liver issue for an hour

    A piece of trivia on being Sherlockian:

    The author Conan Doyle while in medical training did meet a real Dr. Greg House: Dr. Joseph Bell

    The only fictional character still unique is TV’s “Columbo”: The first segment of the show is the crime being committed, then comes the exposition of how Columbo puts the pieces together.

    The viewer and Columbo solves a crime together

    Strangely, this writing technique has never caught on with TV and movie series.

    1. Very interesting thoughts – thanks for taking a moment to share them!

      I think you’re right to point to Columbo. This model is more common in European films, such as some Giallo movies in the Italian tradition.

      I’ve always liked how Deleuze and Guattari point out that detective fiction is the combination of “what has happened?” with “what will happen?”

      I definitely like the mystery-as-algebra metaphor. I will remember that one!

  4. Hi Anthony Metivier! I want to have steel nerves when my memory is threatened by robbers, delinquents, and crime. It is when I can probe to my nerves and to my memory that it can work even that. Not because I choose to but the circumstances.

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Anthony Metivier is the founder of the Magnetic Memory Method, a systematic, 21st century approach to memorizing foreign language vocabulary, names, music, poetry and more in ways that are easy, elegant, effective and fun.

Dr. Metivier holds a Ph.D. in Humanities from York University and has been featured in Forbes, Viva Magazine, Fluent in 3 Months, Daily Stoic, Learning How to Learn and he has delivered one of the most popular TEDx Talks on memory improvement.

His most popular books include, The Victorious Mind and… Read More

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