How to Remember Concepts

| Podcast


A lot of people ask me about how to remember concepts.

Here’s one such email that is worth quoting in full:

Hello Anthony!

First of all, congratulations for these great methods that you have developed, they really work and have been very helpful for me to memorize a lot of stuff.

I have read some of your books, heard all of your podcasts and understand very well how to memorize by using memory palaces and “crazy” associations.

However, I study advanced economics and I have found it very difficult to memorize certain concepts and theories due to the fact that there are several variables which correlate with each other in many different ways.

Also I find it difficult to create vivid and colorful images of interest rates, change rates, investment and other things like that. Every time I try to imagine weird things, I end up making up complicated stories in my mind which add complexity to the memorization process.

Could you give me some advice on this please?

Thank you very much in advance for your reply!!

Have a great day!

Thanks for your message and for entrusting me to answer your question.

First off, you might want to watch what are probably my most popular video on the topic addresses concept memorization. First the 2021 update:


Notice that the person asking this question hasn’t given any examples of concepts and is also talking about processes. This is a key problem.


Because if you want to remember concepts, the information has to be conceptual. And that’s means you’re using abstract thinking. This is the kind of thinking you can expect to be doing when reading philosophy books, and the like.

Here’s the original video:

With respect to variables and correlations, I recommend not focusing on these.

Instead, focus on core information first.

Once this information has been establish, then start to experiment with building Memory Palaces designed exclusively for correlations. Then make more just for variables.

Without knowing your subject, it’s difficult to tell you exactly how I would go about this process myself, but here’s what I do know:

Your experimentation will do more for you than any generic instruction ever could. Now that you know the techniques.

Ultimately, I suggest you go for what I call the “rhizomatic” effect. We often use the term “building knowledge,” which assumes that it’s a bottom up process.

But what if we could build knowledge laterally? And in a way that goes up and down? And horizontally.

In a way that stimulates little bubbles of new knowledge to spring up spontaneously as we proceed?

That’s what multiple Memory Palaces will do for you. And the more strategically designed they are, the better for creating these kinds of connections.

So again: I personally don’t think fussing too much about the variables etc. will bring much unless you treat them as individual units (as such). So, let’s so that:

Core information x has 25 variables.

You could either:

1) Build a Memory Palace for storing all kinds of core information and then have secondary Memory Palaces for variables.

2) Build a Memory Palace just for one piece of core information and then include all of the variables and correlates you need along that journey.

I would suggest experimenting with both.

Why? Because …

You never lose by experimenting.
In fact, you create that rhizomatic effect I’m talking about. It often happens even if things don’t work out exactly according to plan.

Because the Memory Palaces and procedures that didn’t work still exist. And the process of using them has taught you something.

Each Memory Palace might even have a bit of information in it that can be salvaged.

Finally, complicated images and stories are a trial by fire that we all need to go through at the beginning. With experience, you’ll learn to streamline the process. You’ll stop throwing in everything but the kitchen sink.

But this “economy of means” can only be achieved by experience, experimentation and consistent practice of the processes you’ve discovered work best for you.

How to Remember Concepts For The Long Term

Now, there’s a difference between remembering concepts for a few minutes and memorizing them for years to come.
In order to get the long term benefits, it’s important to follow a set of steps:
  • Use powerful, multisensory visualization
  • Place these visualizations in well-formed Memory Palaces
  • Make sure to use active recall frequently while learning
  • Use the Recall Rehearsal patterns taught in the Magnetic Memory Method Masterclass
  • Read, write, listen and speak about the concepts as much as possible
  • Constantly connect as you reflect on the concepts with other information and key figures
And like I said, experiment.
All experiments will be valuable. Don’t overthink the process.
Don’t fall prey to doubt.
Think of all of it as exercise:
How do you learn to execute a properly formed pushup? By feeling your way into it.
By experiencing the consequences – even if only a little – of a poorly formed pushup.
Memorizing any amount of concepts is really that simple.

Keep me posted on how you fare and let me know if you have any further questions. 🙂

Further Resources

Earlier post on how to memorize concepts referred to in this episode of the podcast.

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