Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A healthy memory

Well, the not-blogging-about-work-in-case-I-get-in-trouble rule lasted for two months, more or less, which is pretty good going. But I can't resist this one tonight. The worlds of work and memory are sort of merging, you see, and the people who read this blog for the memory technique insights might be interested in this.

As I might have mentioned before, it's the Boots Healthcare Conference in Birmingham next week, woo, and I've been asked to go along to our department's stand (it's all about store-controllable wastage) and persuade attendees to come and look at this not terribly compelling-sounding display by performing a memory stunt. I'm not 100% comfortable with being an Official Boots Memory Man as opposed to a Boots Profit Protection Analyst, but as long as it's only once in a while, I don't really mind.

So what I've done is taken a list of all the stores which will be represented at the convention, which each have a number from 5 (Beeston) to 6526 (Glasgow Fort) and the value of their healthcare-department credit claim values for this year to date and last year in three different categories (out of date, damaged and theft), all of which are a one-to-five-digit number, and when somebody tells me their store number, I'll be able to reel off the six figures for their store, and amaze and astound them. Then I suppose I'll order them to make an effort to reduce their wastage if they want to see more memory feats, or something like that.

Having played around with techniques for memorising these slightly tricky numbers (when you have a 3-digit-image system like me, memorising a 4-digit number is inconvenient), I decided to memorise them as eight three-digit numbers, by taking off the first digits of each and combining them into one number. So for example, if store 27's [there is no store 27 in the Boots world at the moment, and the following numbers are entirely fictional] six numbers are 1425, 684, 9723, 226, 8821 and 23, I remember it as 027-109-425-684-723-080-226-821-023. See what I'm doing there? The 027 is the store [I forget where store 27 used to be, but it closed down last year. I reiterate, I'm not quoting real figures here], the 109 is the thousands figure from the first three numbers and the 080 is the thousands figure from the last three.

I tried memorising a scene of these nine images in isolation for each of the 192 stores that'll have representatives at the conference, but they just wouldn't stay in my memory. So I used journeys instead, and placed nine images in each location, and somehow that works a great deal better. Now when someone says 'store 27' to me, I have to run through my journeys and work out where it is, but when I find it, I can remember the images perfectly.

I don't know why that's so much better than doing it without a journey. Maybe my mind is just used to journeys and now I can't survive without them. Anyway, it's been fun to be working from home this afternoon, memorising numbers and getting paid for it, although I still feel guilty because I can't quite mentally accept that memorising is part of my job at the moment.

Speaking of memory, you can check out Gaby's pictures of Maisons-Laffitte here!

And the BBC were speaking of memory today to me, too, asking questions like "when you talk about memorising a pack of cards, do you mean a 52-card pack or a 36-card pack?" I suppose you have to check everything, but that's one I've never been asked before. They want to film me on October 7th.

Wait, I forgot to mention the interesting technical bits of the healthcare memory thing. Some stores have a four-digit store number - ones that start with 1 I remember which journeys they were on and just memorise them as a 3-digit number without the 1, and the handful that start with 20 or 50 or 64 or 65 I use others of my images that I don't usually use with numbers, so store 2053 becomes store h-5-3, a hummingbird, in my head.

And for the stores whose credit claims in a category are over 9999, I use another consonant or vowel for the 10, 11, 15 or whatever thousands figure - no number is over 16000, luckily. Creating systems is about 75% of the fun of doing something like this.

2 comments:

Samantha said...

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