How to remember the top 10 things to bring when you leave the house

One of my all-time favorite books is Ron Hale-Evans' Mind Performance Hacks, by Ron Hale-Evans, which has 75 practical tips for becoming a better thinker. I highly recommend it, as well as his follow-up book, Mindhacker (co-written with Marty Hale-Evans)

The first tip in the book is a classic, but I suspect many people don't know it. It's a way to make a mental list of ten things. You can use this method to create a shopping list, a packing list, an errand list, or anything else that has ten things or less.

To start using this technique, you first have to remember 10 key
words. Once you memorize these words, you can use the same ones for the rest of your life. Here they are:

1 :: gun

2 :: shoe

3 :: tree

4 :: door

5 :: hive

6 :: sticks

7 :: heaven

8 :: gate

9 :: wine

10 :: hen

Notice that the words rhyme with the number they are associated with. You probably have them memorized already.

Now, take each item on your list and pair them with a keyword by visualizing the two words in a weird (and therefore memorable) way . Here's how Ron uses the keywords to remember what he needs to bring with him when he leaves his house:

1 :: gun :: medication

I never leave the house without this. I imagine a gun firing pills scattershot in all directions.

2 :: shoe :: keys

I imagine the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe trying to open the front door of her giant shoe with her keys while dozens of her children are tugging on her skirt.

3 :: tree :: cell phone

I imagine a tree with a 1920s-style varnished black telephone handset and mouthpiece protruding from it. A pair of bells on the tree ring loudly.

4 :: door :: notebook

I imagine my Moleskine Mini notebook grown to enormous size. The front cover swings open like a door with a huge Inner Sanctum creak of hinges. (I never go anywhere without my catch [Hack #13].)

5 :: hive :: wallet

I imagine opening my wallet and a swarm of bees flying out into my face. Argh!

6 :: sticks :: PDA

I imagine using a scratchy wooden stick with leaves as a stylus to write on my PDA. (This also reminds me to bring a stylus, in case I forget in step 10.)

7 :: heaven :: eyeglasses

I imagine my eyeglasses shining, because they are made out of the same nacreous material as the Pearly Gates.

8 :: gate :: handkerchief

I imagine my handkerchief tied to the post of an ordinary garden gate and flapping in the wind like a flag as the gate swings back and forth.

9 :: wine :: Swiss Army knife

I imagine that one of the blades of my red Swiss Army knife is actually a miniature wine bottle and that when I open it, a flood of red wine pours out.

10 :: hen :: pen

I imagine that a hen is pecking at a bunch of the four-color pens I use, which lie about on the ground in abundance with some PDA styluses.

What if you have more than 10 things you need to remember? Use these keywords, from Peg Bracken's The Compleat I Hate to Cook Book (found by Marty Hale-Evans).

1 :: run

2 :: zoo

3 :: tree

4 :: door

5 :: alive

6 :: stick

7 :: heaven

8 :: gate

9 :: wine

10 :: den

11 :: football team

12 :: delve

13 :: hurting

14 :: courting

15 :: lifting

16 :: licking

17 :: leavening

18 :: waiting

19 :: pining

20 :: horn of plenty

I would change some of the keywords in this list, myself. Coming up with my own keywords would make them more memorable.

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