My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way. -- Ernest Hemingway
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3 Simple Steps to Make Sure You Never Forget Again (The Nopen Paradox, Part 2)

As I wrote in The Nopen Paradox - Part 1, the brain giveth and the brain taketh away. We receive amazing ideas at the most inopportune times and then forget them before we have a chance to write them down.

In Part 1, I showed how to combat The Nopen Paradox by ensuring you always have a way to record your idea.

Here in Part 2, I present an even better solution.

Never Again Forget Your Best Ideas

The best solution by far for remembering your best ideas is the one that uses your own brain.

I know it's a novel concept, but using the brain to solve problems is more convenient than notepads and smart phones.

People carry their brains with them almost as much as their smart phones so brains are handy. Brains are also hands free devices--most of the time, anyway. I do know a few people who can't think without their hands, so this technique might not work for them.

Whether you're driving, riding in a hot air balloon or doing the dishes, if you know how to use your brain you'll never again forget your best ideas.

The 3 Step Memory Technique

There is a common memory technique which allows normal people like you and me to remember huge amounts of information. It can also help us remember certain things at a specific place or time.

Your brain is a funny thing and it really likes associations. If you can associate one thought or image in your mind with another, your brain will tend to remember them in tandem. And the more you make the mental association the stronger the connection.

For example, I receive Jason Leister's amazing email newsletter from over at artofclients.com. One day, I read one of his emails in a parking lot and then started driving east on 210 highway. As I drove, I continued to think about his email. I guess I was really into it because now I can't read one of his emails without feeling like I'm driving down 210 highway.

So here's what you do.

  1. Object: Think of a familiar object that you can associate with your idea.
  2. Action: Think of another related object and have it interact with the first.
  3. Target: Imagine the objects interacting at a place where you can write down your idea.

(NOTE: Imagine a horse eating OATs (object, action, target) so you can remember this technique!)

Reggie and the Exploding Piggy Bank

Let's walk through an example.

Suppose you are driving and you suddenly figure out how to solve a plot problem in your novel. The solution is that Reggie (a thief) should hide the gun in the bank vault ahead of time. You've been thinking about this problem for days and you finally have a great solution.

You can't write it down while driving, so now what do you do?

You know that telling yourself to remember is not enough. So you decide to apply my three step memory trick.

Step one requires you to imagine an object that will help you remember. For me, I would imagine a little blue piggy bank I had as a child. That creates an association with the bank vault.

Do that now... nice.

Step two requires another object and an action. The obvious second object is a gun. So, imagine a giant orange super soaker water gun shooting the piggy bank. The piggy bank explodes and lots of cash and coins come flying out. Imagine water splashing on your face from the water gun explosion.

Alright, do you have the visual?

Now think about someplace you will be arriving soon where you can write down your idea. If you're driving to work, imagine your desk or the doorway at your workplace. In your imagination, place the exploding piggy bank on the desk or in front of the door. This links your visual imagery to something in your real life. Imagine you are sitting down at your desk and you see the water gun shoot the piggy bank. Watch it explode all over your desk.

Replay the scene in your mind a few times.

While this may sound complicated, it only takes a few seconds.

When you finally arrive at the target location, your desk in this case, your brain shows you the image of the exploding piggy bank because you created the association in your brain. And that's all it takes. It's enough to remember your idea.

You will be amazed at how often this technique will help you remember your ideas.

In fact, it works so well, that I feel obligated to apologize because

...you will never again be able sit at your desk without seeing exploding piggy banks.

In the rare case your brain doesn't show you the image at your target location, your odds of recalling your idea are still multiplied.

When you do finally remember that you had an idea and begin to probe your memory, you'll be able to recall. Those few seconds you spent creating a dynamic visual image will be much easier to retrieve than a fleeting idea.

I've used this technique many times to great effect. Add a few more objects and it's pure magic when trying to remember a long sequence of items.

Try it! You'll be amazed.

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