Loci Method: 9 PRACTICAL Memory Palace Practice Tips

Image of a glass ball magnifying a mansion to express a concept related to the loci methodAre you intimidated by the idea of building your own Memory Palace using the loci method?

After all, the word “palace” brings to mind an elaborate dwelling. 

It’s huge. 

And complicated, right?

It doesn’t have to be that way. 

Just think of the phrase “Memory Palace” or “Mind Palace” as a name that helps you cherish the knowledge you put into it. It’s not really about the place itself.

And the term “loci method” really just means that we’re turning space itself into a mnemonic device. I think of this memory tool as a “location-based mnemonic.”

Personally, whenever I get stuck on how to best use the technique, I mind map out as many method of loci examples as I can.

But on this page, I want to go further. 

I want to help you learn the loci method well and build your first Memory Palace Network in a way that is completely stress-free.

That’s why I’ve put together these nine practical tips that will help you practice the technique once you’ve learned it.

Let’s dive in.

#1: Learn To Use The Loci Method Simply

This means exactly what you think.

No clickbait here. Just keep it simple.

Don’t overcomplicate or overthink the Memory Palace technique.

It’s easy to overthink and analyze, of course. It’s in our nature, right? Well, we can still scrub it out. Here’s some help:

 

#2: Add Complexity As Your Skills Grow

Just because we want to keep things simple, doesn’t mean we’re going to stand still. 

Although you use of the method of loci should be simple in the beginning, naturally adding complexity as your skills grow is important.

For example, your first simple Memory Palace of your childhood bedroom can grow to include:

But before you expand, you’ve got to get good with just one Memory Palace.

Image of complex archicture to express how people use the method of loci in advanced ways too soon

That means starting with your existing competence. Don’t overcomplicate things.

With practice you will see that there are some places where simplicity will always rule and complexity is not desirable.

Ever heard of the phrase, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should?”

That’s a great rule of thumb to keep in mind when using this memory method.

#3: Use Different Sized Journeys

Once you have grown your practice to where you have built several Memory Palaces, you’ll want to have a way of linking them together, right? This is where the Method of Loci, or journey method comes in. 

Consider this:

You’re planning a road trip to a big music festival several hours away.

You can take several routes to get there.

You want to get there as quickly as possible, to get your tent set up, your campsite secure, so you won’t miss any of the bands on the lineup. You’re not wasting any time between loading up your car and pulling up to the front gate. 

Then on the way back you need some time to decompress. You’ve spent four days in a field, listening to the biggest names in music from sun up to well past sundown. You’re not in a hurry to get back to the “real world.”

You take the scenic route home, stopping at greasy spoon diners and tourist traps along the way. You make a game of it by telling Google Maps to “avoid highways” even.

Both these routes got you from point A to point B (or B to A as the case may be) but they were significantly different. They had a different purpose. Think of your journeys linking your memory palaces in this same way. You have shorter and longer journeys, more complex and simpler journeys, all to serve you differently.

#4: Use White Space

“Less is more.”

While it can be useful to have very condensed Memory Palaces, and those memory palaces can be filled and overloaded with tons of stations, it can also be very beneficial to see what happens when you have less. Try working in a manner that’s spaced out, instead of overloaded.

Photo of an empty room with white walls

You can apply this idea to not only your Memory Palaces, but what you encode in them. Memorize less, encode less, and see if you’re able to have more recall from focusing on fewer pieces of information. 

The goal is to avoid the “Dr. Faust effect.”

The legend of Faust warns us against a downfall caused by a greed for all knowledge. He was unsatisfied with a mastery of law, logic, science and theology, and turned to the dark arts, where he eventually was damned after he sold his soul to Mephistopheles for more knowledge.

Instead of just collecting information, and never feeling satiated, why not be satisfied with the big ideas, and having an appreciation of the “white space”? You’ll find that your mind will fill in the blanks and you don’t need that overload of information. The white space will take care of itself. Let your Memory Palaces breathe.

#5: Complete Both Short Term And Long Term Projects

To keep your practice fresh, have both short and long term projects you are working towards.

A classic short term project is to have a daily run through of memorizing playing cards. Keep a deck handy (maybe beside your coffee pot in the morning, or near your reading nook) so you can shuffle and memorize a handful in your downtime.

For a longer term project, this may be learning a new language or memorizing a collection of poetry.

Toggling these two projects will keep you from becoming bored and burnt out with a singular goal. 

#6: Explore Indoor vs. Outdoor Memory Palace Options

As you move toggle between short and long term projects, explore using indoor and outdoor Memory Palaces for your memory journeys.

As an alternative to viewing your memory tools as simply one large Memory Palace, what if you thought of it as a collection of smaller memory palaces?

Kevin Richardson skydiving while wandering a Memory Palace

Okay, Kevin… Not that far outside!

For example, a home is a collection of room, a room a collection of areas and corners. A park can be seen as a playground area, hiking trail, community pool.

(Or you can skydive and wander your Memory Palaces like Kevin Richardson does while using Recall Rehearsal for learning Japanese with mnemonics.)

Be flexible and bring a sense of playfulness to creating your Memory Palaces. They will be far more beneficial as living and growing entities instead of a static, fixed creation.

For more on outdoor Memory Palaces, check out my discussion with Lynne Kelly on the craft of memory.

#7: Understand That Memory Palaces Are Pegs To Which You Can Add Pegs

Think of your Memory Palaces as pegs to which you can add pegs, or spaces to which you can add pegs.

When people first get started with memory techniques they may see these tools as mutually exclusive, instead of elements that can be used in partnership.

Yet, the Peg System works exactly how you would imagine, pegging or linking one thing to another. Building upon what you do know, you connect the new information to it in your mind. 

(No, peg system is not that different from the pegword method, but it’s worth exploring both.)

#8: Persist with S.I.P.

Now even though I’ve broken down mastery of the Method of Loci down to nine simple tips, it may not always be easy peasy. You will be faced with challenges along the way. There’s just no getting around it. Success with these methods is not about not having those setbacks, but that you know how to deal with them. 

And one of the best ways to deal with those challenges is to make sure you have a good library of memory training.

Use all of the information you have available to you. Utilize it constantly and consistently. Take S.I.P. to heart: 

S = Study the techniques for yourself consistently over time

I = Implement what you learn from you study of memory techniques and its tradition.

P = Practice these techniques with information that improves your life.

Magnetic Memory Method Free Memory Improvement Course

Be ever vigilant in tweaking your practice and improving it. As Nicholas Castle found, this practice can release you from some big problems in life, as it did with his PTSD

#9: Keep A Memory Journal

Finally, keep a memory journal. It is crucial to have a place, a record of what you’re doing, how you’re doing it. Only then are you able to proceed and know where you’re going if you know where you’ve come from.

Although you could use something like Evernote for better memory journaling, I personally don’t see the attraction.

Instead, consider going back to “keep it simple.”

Anthony Metivier using the Freedom Journal

And if you’re feeling overwhelmed, just start with just one of the tips on this page.

See how implementing it improves the ease and speed of which you can create memory palaces and progress through the Method of Loci.

Mix and match these principles to maximize your efforts and you’ll see just how effortless the process can be with practice over time. Then move on to these more advanced Memory Palaces training exercises

12 Responses to " Loci Method: 9 PRACTICAL Memory Palace Practice Tips "

  1. Adolfo says:

    Thank You for this post. In the past I tried stuffing my Memory Palaces thinking that having copious amounts of Info in one place was beneficial.

    Once I switch to minimizing information and leaving white space between my magnetic staions, is when I began to easily recall the info.

    Thanks again for your training, it has truly added great value to my life.

    • So glad that you found this useful, Adolfo.

      I think in the beginning, most of us try to cram. I certainly did – and it’s dangerous because it actually can work. But things get so much better when we let it breathe.

      It’s an honor to have you in the MMM Familia – you’re taking action and, as the hip kids say, “crushin’ it.”

      Keep going!

  2. Maricela Griffith says:

    Hi Anthony Metivier! I have two journals. One is for dreams, the other is for vocabulary and notes about the MMM Masterclass.

  3. Dexter says:

    Basically, keep your memory training complex but not too complicated.
    I liked the idea of using white space. I’m going to give a try.

    • Thanks, Dexter.

      Another way of thinking about it is that we need challenge in order to grow. Complexity can provide that challenge, but only if we have the existing competence needed to bear enough of the load. Many people take on too much complexity before they’re ready for it.

      The opposite problem is that people set challenges that are too easy. They don’t grow and they get bored.

      That’s why it’s important to tailor everything and re-tailor it with continual analysis of yourself. The Memory Journal is the perfect device for doing this.

      Thanks for posting and look forward to hearing from you again soon!

  4. James says:

    I enjoy listening to this and all of the podcasts on the site. My only confusion is when you use the word “networks” as I keep thinking of networking as in computers. Still, I love this. Thank you, Anthony.

    • Thanks for checking this out and mentioning the term, Memory Palace Network.

      I looked it up and it seems that “network” actually comes from the 16th century, long before computers. Anything with intersecting lines or some kind of mesh might get this term, such as a “chain” of islands. In the 1960s, quite some time after telephones and computers, it was applied to groups of people connected by such devices. In other words, the Magnetic Memory Method Family is a “network” of individuals who care about the memory tradition.

      In terms of a network of Memory Palaces, this means having multiple Memory Palaces that are “connected” or “chained” together by using a generative and organizational device, such as the alphabet. For example, if I knew your home, it would be a “J” Memory Palace, whereas the home of Dexter, also in this conversation, would be a “D” Memory Palace.

      It’s a tremendously useful way of creating a network and mentally organizing it, and organization was something the ancients placed a premium on. I believe we should too.

      As an alternative to an alphabetical Memory Palace Network, you could encode them using a 00-99 PAO, but that will require much more heavy lifting than just working with the alphabet.

      Does this help answer the mystery of this term for you? 🙂

  5. James says:

    It definitely does, Thank you, Anthony.

  6. Laurian says:

    Thanks Anthony, this is very rich. Does reconstruction of Memory Palaces based on old homes you lived in trigger old memories too? I was shocked at the level of detail I recall from the homes (and dorms from boarding school) that I remembered as I listed my former residences as Memory Palaces.

    Old friends and teachers popped up too.

    Amazing!

    Laurian

    • Hi Laurian,

      Yes, having old memories pop up happens frequently.

      The most interesting thing I find is that by regularly going back to them, even more memories come up. It’s as if the well is never quite dry.

      For example, your post prompted me to think of the second home I lived in and two of my dad’s friends came to mind. I thought I’d dug up everything from this one, but obviously not.

      Even better, a song one of them used to play came to mind – I’m listening to it now with great pleasure after decades. Many thanks for stirring up some powerful and fun memories!

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