How To Combine Mind Mapping And Memory Palaces With Phil Chambers

phil-chambers-on-mind-mapping-and-memory-palaces-magnetic-memory-method-podcastYou’ve heard about Mind Mapping and Memory Palaces, right?

Well, if you’re anything like the hundreds of people who have emailed me about it, you’ve probably wondered …

“Can I bring Mind Mapping and the Memory Palace together?”

To help me answer the question, I asked the reigning World Mind Mapping champion Phil Chambers to talk about Mind Mapping and how to bring this creativity, memory and learning tool together with a Memory Palace.

Turns out that we had a lot more than just that to talk about. Tune in to this episode of the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast and learn all about.

How To Combine Mind Mapping And
Memory Palaces With Phil Chambers

 The techniques Phil uses in his personal daily memory practice.

 How to capture and store ideas using memory techniques – even when you’re driving.

The number-rhyme technique to take action on to-do list items. (Not to be mistaken for the Major Method/Major System.)

 The perfect Mind Mapping definition and where to learn more about mind mapping techniques

 Why there are always new things to explore in the world of memory techniques. Once you start using them, you will never cap out on new angles to explore and increase your skills.

 The difference between semantic memory and episode memory and how using the journey method capitalizes on the power of both. This is the most “natural” way to use your memory.


Hanging out with Phil Chambers and Tony Buzan

The reasons why memory competition skills translate directly into every day memory needs we all face.

Why the principles behind Mind Mapping never changes, but Mind Mapping software continues bring new enhancements to the art and craft of this thinking, learning and planning tool.

Details on how to bring Mind Mapping together with the Memory Palace technique.

Why and how Mind Mapping uses all of the classic memory techniques.

The major criticism about memory techniques as regurgitation of knowledge and not learning – and why it’s misguided.

Why Phil’s title as a World Mind Mapping champion is up for grabs and exactly how to take his title.

The exact criteria by which world class Mind Mapping is judged.

Why you should never worry about your artistic ability when creating Mind Maps.

Phil’s Mind Mapping examples of how to schedule your week and get more done.

How Mind Mapping your daily schedule gives you many more details than a to-do list. Not only that, but you’ll often be able to double your efforts in ways you wouldn’t have otherwise seen on a page with linear notes.

Further Resources



Phil Chamber’s website (where you can subscribe to his newsletter!)

Phil Chambers on Twitter

Phil Chambers on YouTube

Phil Chambers Talks About The Outer Limits Of Memory Skills

6 Responses

  1. Hi Anthony,

    As ever, thank you for your fascinating discussion with Phil Chambers.

    As you and say, there is power in mind mapping.

    In my view, in fact, it often describes a mnemonic journey. If I quickly wish to remember lists, I use a visual journey and then jot it down later on a napkin or something more permanent.

    The old shopping list journey is jejeune I agree, but if you make a quick journey in your supermarket and add mnemonic devices like rhymes or Major method imagery you can snazz it up.

    Why not mind map your shopping (not merely stupid grocery lists!) for a month, or a year if you wish. It would save a lot of time, and it would keep you mindful about cost and expense.

    I am rather surprised at the dearth of real information on the web as to mind mapping. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see a lot of useful methodology for this art available.

    Moreover, the software craze utterly hobbles the creativity and individuality of the experience. I do use tools like FreeMind or xMind, but I find them limiting. Perhaps, I will see if I can use One Note to better effect, but I feel software limits the potential to tap into the power of mind mapping.

    Well, Anthony, thanks again for a splendid episode.

    1. Thanks for this, Alex.

      Yes, the Mind Map is in many ways a Memory Palace – or rather, it is a location-based mnemonic. The locations just happen to be on quadrants of paper and fused with whatever other areas they might imply.

      Good idea about mind mapping shopping lists with real purpose behind it. That finally is a shopping list mind hack I can stand behind – I might be doing it myself soon to figure out a new currency in the near future.

      I think the lack of solid info on mind mapping for free on the Internet may be simply the lack of a strong blogger in the space. If someone as obsessed with bringing blogging and the Memory Palace together came along and did something like this for mind mapping, I think many people in the world would benefit a great deal.

      As for software, I don’t know enough about any of the programs to say, but I predict that a “paperware” fusion of software with some kind of vellum is bound to arrive eventually. It will explode the potential of both forms when the two are combined to be sure. 🙂

  2. Hey Anthony, I listened to the discussion and it was very interesting. I learned some things while listening to the video, but it did not discuss the topic of integrating mind mapping with a memory palace very much. Chambers did say at one point that you could organize mind maps inside your using a central image in a room like a mind map of geography, but there is hardly anything else. That method only works only after the mind maps are complete – it does not help to memorize the individual branches.

    Recently, I have been doing a lot of research on mnemonics for reading books, and the methods for that is scarce on memory sites and books. Most people say that it is only necessary to memorize maybe one point per page or just the table of contents. What I mean to do is construct a strategy for getting “near 100% retention” for facts in books after reading it once or twice. I do not mean verbatim memorization – just fact memorization.

    The thing is, memory palaces do not always characterize books because information is not always sequential or chronological. And information tends to branch off from other types of information in the form of a mind map while reading. It is not just one idea on to the next like poetry. Mind maps seem to characterize reading the most.

    The trouble with mind maps is that they take a long time to construct, especially if you are going to memorize a whole chapter. Then, you have to consolidate the mind map to memory.

    Memory palaces, as we all know, are much easier to digest because they are based around familiar locations. Mind maps are kind of like that too, as you said, but it is not inherently familiar to you like memory palaces are. So then, the perfect reading strategy would be one that efficiently combines mind mapping with the memory palace, and that is what I aim to do.

    So here is my method for combining mind maps and memory palaces. Please critique it. I really appreciate your input to people’s answers, by the way. To begin with, each main branch represents a location in your memory palace.

    So in a textbook, your can get the outline of the chapter by just scanning the main headings of the chapter; each heading is a location, or a main branch. Now, once you have the main branches of the chapter, you just assign pegs corresponding to the stemming branches. Each branch has a certain “order” (first-order, second-order, third-order) that corresponds to the type of branch stemming from the main topic branches.

    The first order branch fact would be represented by a single digit major system object. Now, each fact corresponding to that branch would be represented by a single digit number rhyme object. Then, each fact corresponding to that branch would have a single digit number shape object. The system only works up to third-order mind maps; in order for there to be more, you will have to use another number system.

    Third-order is enough in most cases anyway. I call it the MRS (Major, Rhyme, Shape) system. I know it sounds confusing and it’s difficult to explain, but I’ll give an example. I am a high schoo Junior learning to memorize an Analog Electronics textbook chapter on Operational Amplifiers. It has 7 headings, which means 7 locations in the memory palace.

    Each location will be very compact since the chapter is 41 pages long. My main branches are the headings in the chapter which are as follows:

    1.) The Differential Amplifier

    2.) Differential Amplifier Analysis

    3.) Operational Amplifiers

    4.) Setting Op-Amp Gain

    5.) Frequency Effects in Op Amps

    6.) Op Amp Applications

    7.) Comparators.

    I’ll show you my method using only the first section, because it would take up a lot of text to give you a full example.

    My first location is basically a filing cabinet for everything mentioned in the first section. In the first paragraph of the first section, it says that an amplifier can be made to respond to two input signals and it is called a dual power supply.

    So I may imagine two ninjas wearing hats (major method object 1) dueling each other with rays (signals) that get made larger and larger (amplifier). That is the first-order branch.

    Next, it says that the negative power supply provides forward bias for the base-emitter junction and the positive power supply provides reverse bias. Now, since this corresponds to the dual power supplies fact, this fact is a second-order branch and would have to be associated with a rhyme object. It is the first rhyme object, so I will associate it with gun (gun rhymes with 1).

    So, a gun is shooting electricity down (negative) from the sky onto a gigantic castle (base; emitter is implied), pushing it forward (forward bias). The second part of the statement, that positive power supply provides reverse bias, is implied; I do not need to make a separate mnemonic for it as long as I have one. Then, a third order statement would be one that corresponds to this fact.

    However, there is not one in this example, but you probably get the idea. Each major system object would have a rhyme object that corresponds only to it as well as a shape object. So, in the entire system: There would be 5 major system objects, 5 rhyme objects for each major system object (you may have to manipulate the rhyme) which is 25 total rhyme objects, and 5 shape objects for each rhyme object which is 125 total shape objects, for a grand total of 155 possible objects per location.

    I do not think that there would need to be more than 5 branches per order, but if you had, say 9 branches per order, it would be 819 objects, which is a lot of extra memorizing. While I was thinking of a system, I thought about simply using a 3 digit major system and each digit would correspond to each branch. For instance, the first branch of off of the 2nd second-order branch of the first major subtopic would be 121 as a value.

    This may seem to work, but as I thought it over, there would be no way of knowing how many of each branch per order there would be. It is better to use the MRS system, at least in my opinion.

    A major downside to the MRS system is that it would be very difficult to reuse the locations since there are so many images there. Therefore, you would have to reserve that memory palace for the book and know which locations correspond to which chapter.

    I hope you like my system and as I said, please critique and comment. With enough familiarity with the mind map and a mastery of the system, you should be able to memorize very long mind maps. To be honest, I haven’t tried the system out yet, but I certainly intend to. If it works, it could really change education. Maybe there will even be a reading retention memory competition or mind map memorizing competition in the future.

    1. Brilliant thoughts here, Brandon.

      MRS certainly sounds more than plausible and I’d love to hear more about it as you explore it through implementation.

      The first thing that comes to mind, however, is this question:

      Unless there will be some form of competition in terms of racing against a clock or memorizing volume (or both) … do you need a rigid system?

      I think this is where things break down for so many people. They want an approach that works equally across the board in all situations.

      But that thing – that template of operations – really doesn’t exist. And that’s why Phil and I talk in the interview about methods in a way that will deeply dissatisfy many people, while providing great energy and motivation to “Warriors of the Mind” like yourself who go out and work with these tools in order to find their own way with them.

      I’m so glad that you’ve listened deeply and done what we’re hoping: Worked on an approach based on a hypothesis you can now validate through use. Beautiful!

      For myself, and as we’ve seen already in the discussion posts here with Alex, a Mind Map is always already a Memory Palace. The simpler and more focused on a topic that provides immediate life improvement victories, the better. That’s the real magic in them and that’s why I emphasize creating systems based on methods rather than creating systems that topple under their own weight.

      Your MRS might provide a great deal of relief, so you are duty bound to explore it to its fullest potential and then report back on your findings. But my prediction is that if you steer clear of calling it a “system” and keeping flexible like Bruce Lee in the sense of approaching this like a martial art – you’ll wind up helping far more people. Whenever we force the mind to stick with something, we risk it balking and forgetting. But if we work with the material, massage it in, “magnetize” it … and even allow ourselves to let it go and come back to it later for another round … we’ll be in a very profound position.

      Thanks for this great contribution to the world of memory improvement. I can’t wait to hear from you further and see where you take this! 🙂

  3. I’m very new to memory palace thinking just game across it the otter day, but is very intrigued. I love mindmaps, use them also in formal conversations, so both parts know where the conversation is heading.

    I see mindmaps as something you dive deeper into and open up. Could you do combine that in the memory palace…

    If the mainbranches are the locations (kitchen), then the next branch could be your fridge, your cabinet and so on, then open your fridge, and the shelves represent the next order of branches, if we need another level of branches maybe we could dive into the things on each shelves, you maybe always have milk, juice, sparkling water in one place, then these things represent the next order of branches?

    I’m looking for a way to remember books for my work, and try to combine the method with my teaching with primary school kids.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Sarah.

      Yes, you can combine the mind map technique with Memory Palaces. I released a post all about this recently showing you one way to accomplish this in a fun and easy way. Please search this site for mind map examples and it will come up. I’ll email you the link as well.

      If you use that technique for books, I think you’ll do well. However, you might do well to develop a Memory Palace technique on its own as well so that you have choice. That is very important for long term success.

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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.

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