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Don't swallow it whole!

When someone gives you a phone number to remember, use 'chunking' as a way of remembering it. Short-term memory is limited so chunking helps us process long bits of information in more easily digestible chunks.

Most people can remember seven things, plus or minus two, which means that you'll usually be able to remember between five and nine things at most. So when given a string of numbers to remember such as 123957001066, break it down! 12 39 57 00 10 66 or even 1239 5700 1066 (chunks of numbers).

You may find it easier to chunk numbers according to something you find meaningful, like the age of someone you know, an address or a famous date (1066 Battle of Hastings). These attached meanings can then form a story to help remember a really long sequence.


How useful do you find chunking?

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How useful is this tip?

  1. Useful
  2. Not very useful

Total votes: 342

This is not a representative poll and the figures do not purport to represent public opinion as a whole on this issue


It was a great experience and was very useful for me.

its very nice technique to remember now a days mobile number.

I used to like this.Tell me some thing new if you know

It's very useful but not at all times

john yates
i remember pin numbers by remembering the pattern a number makes on key pad. i.e. 1478 is an L shape. though the method does have limitations, some numbers dont have easily remembered patterns.

I have long since used chunking to remember telephone numbers. I also find chunking numbers into threes helps me eg 954 367 210 715

andrew ma
I think chunking is really a useful way. Like in China, there are so many way to strength your memory. "less than 7" is one way of them. But is there any scientific background after this phenomenon?

For numbers, off course it is use full. Also formats are important. For example: For 7 digits phone numbers that is better to remember like this: 225 4354 For 8 digits phone numbers that is better to remember like this: 8843 6527

Joseph Peake
It is something I do, even the 'meaningful' bit. Sometimes there may be a little pattern, such as 2612 and I remember 2x6=12.

I've always used chunking for as long as I can remember! Also use patterns.Also like Joy I can recall how people sound as they answer the phone which gives me the number. Like Kate, I too find I don't recocgnise my own no. if someone uses different chunks.

colin wrote: "Metropolitan British numbers are arranged in a 4-3-4 configuration i.e. 0123 456 7891 is City Code, District Code, Individual Line Number in some places." No they aren't - they go 02x xxxx xxxx. The last 8 digit always have to be dialled but the first three don't if you're calling from the same area.

Jane Davies
I always chunk phone numbers in groups of three, noy always successfully but it's the only way I can remember them. I have to remember them aurally rather than visually.

i also have dyslexia , which makes my short term memory very poor . Chucking has been invaluable when it comes to phone numbers and even with learning my account number!

A few years ago, I found myself chunking down numbers without realising but I have to add a rhythm to them

I can't say when I started to 'chunk' numbers, but bellieve I always do it trying to make sequences in even amounts whether it be 2's, 3's, etc. 'Chunking' definitely works for me.

Very usefull particularly with numbers

peter daly
chunking in groups of four works well in the short -term for me.But if I don't use it for a week it's gone.

I have a 'mental block' with numbers, and have used what you call 'chunking' to remember nos. 80% of the time, this works for me.

Philip Brown
Umm.. I chunk into groups of five numbers. It is usefull.Even mobile numbers (which tend to have ten digits. Our local exchange has a lot of 5 digit numbers, I can remember those but six digits and I am stuck! I can remember the garage where my car is fixed, a number I use once year for the last twenty years.

Zil muir
I will try this - had not thought of chunking the numbers just thought I was not good at remembering long numbers - unless it was a sequence I used frequently

I found that chunking numbers are very useful. It helps me to remember phone numbers and credit cards. I just need to be creative and associate the numbers.

I have always used chunking to remember numbers. It is very useful. As I've got older (38) my memory is deteriorating fast! So hopefully I will come across some more good advice on this site!

Unfortunately, I'm words not numbers! I seem to be in the remember 5 catagory! However, if I can associate words with numbers, that helps.

I don't bother trying to remember telephone numbers (I write them down, or put them in speed dial). This method is good for all those other numbers I need -photocopy code at work, keypad number for entering my gym, etc. I find it creates a rhythm, which is easy to recall.

I find chunking an easy way of remembering my credit card no and car reg numbers

I already use this method to memorise telephone numbers and pin codes i am finding it harder to retain numbers as i get older it used to be no problem when i was younger

Kathy Sham
To paraphrase one of your responders, Halfdan Johnson, it is a useful tip - I've been doing it for years.

Very useful for revision!

Diane Lovelock
I find chunking useful. I don't remember all telephone numbers, but I have to prefix my numbers with 900 80 72 42 and then for UK put 00 44 and then the number, which with a UK number is another 10 and there is one particular one I always remember

it is very useful to i'm able to have wide application in other field.

Very useful, thanks for the tip

good idea - seems to work - thanks for the tip

Andrew Hughes
I do not try to remember phone numbers most of the time. It is easier to have then in adress books, organisers, phones and computers. However, I always split nyumbers I want to try and remember into the STD code, then two chunks of 3 or 4 digits.

Not very , I remember numers in 3's but do not use rhymes. I did work with a man who had a remarkable meory for numbers and did it all by association

Chunking is useful for remembering one or two frequenlty used numbers, but not so helpful to remember easily a series of numbers, some of which you use infrequently.

Naomi Mooney
I find this a very good technique and I would always use it to remember numbers.

Yes, this seems a very useful method, I most certainly will use it in future.

I find 'Chunking' works very well, and like many other memory techniques can help improve your memory no end. But only if you can remember to use these technique or have time to use them when remembering something on the fly.

I find it useful sometimes, when Im very low or in my office, but due to each person has different experiecese, you cant make a standard formula to teach people the way of chunking. recently I dreamt of a calendar, most dates on it are not shown except 7 9 16 19 25, I saw them and try to memorise them on purpose cause I see them all at once, later I found out on these days of this month-aug, I have to facing somethng difficult in life. it seems there is no reason how you remember the digits, and for some people, they can do it in one second, without doing logical works in mind or associate it with anything they are familiar. I was only lucky once, but I think for some people, it has always been like that for them, they should describe and analyse why they can picture the numbers and remember them all at once. conclusion: compare to better ways this is a stupid way.

Very usefull as long as I can remember how it started, then the rest seems to follow on.

I have always chunked telephone and other long numbers. I find this a useful way of remembering them, especially if I can use rhyme at the same time eg dada, dada, dada, dada.

Elaine Gibbs
I have always used this method and find that the other 'chunks' follow on after the initial one

Iain Ledingham
I prefer the second chunking option. Also it helps if I 'say' the numbers in my head.

very useful - i developed this technique as a child and still use it at age 49.

Berit fra DK
This is the only way I can remember numbers, etc. my pin code to the credit card, and some important phone numbers. I always chunk the numbers so I can understand them. When someone gives me a number in their own way of chunking I just have to think about what he/she has just said to me and then make it into my own way.

I find this method rather useful for small-digited numbers… For example, I’ve always used this technique for remembering my PIN-code, which is 4-digited, making it easier for me to remember I divided it into 2 2-digited numbers, and have never had a single problem remembering it… One day, for no reason in particular, I tried recalling it as a single number, and I just couldn’t come up with it… Whether I just failed on breaking the routine, or my mind was low on resources, I still see it as a pretty example to illustrate the efficient of this technique.

I use this technique because it is the best way to remember a phone number. I also use this technique for my PIN-code.

Well... I got an easy card-number, but sometimes when I stand in a super-market and I still wonder what the card-number really is... The same way about phone numbers, sometimes I forget my fathers, mothers, and brothers number even if I used it many times before...So get yourself a method like this and learn it as good as you can.

Well I must admit that my short term memory is very bad, and this is one of the ways I have used to aid myself remembering stuff. For instance I tend to forget my homework, but if I chunk it down into subjects and pages/assignments I tend to remember it much better.

I find it very useful, as I always find it difficult to remember a long list of numbers. So in future I am going to chunk the numbers to remember them.

I also have a degree of dyslexia(diagnosed) and find chunking the most useful along with a kind of visual concept - shape or pattern

diana whitney
i find chunking usful when i recite them in a rhythmic sing song way .

I always chunk anyway. As I'm a musician I can remember the sound and melody better than the written image. In Germany, where I live phone numbers are always chunked in twos - e.g. 121061 is spoken - twelve -ten - sixty-one.

Very good, I never thought of trying to remember things this way.

Norman Hall
It works; I can still remember Drawing No's that I was responsible for filing when I was a 16/17 year old Junior Draughtsman. I am in my 68th year.

I find that long numbers tend to suggest their own 'chunking' patterns to me - for example one friend's number is in chunks of a 3, 2, 2, 3 and 1 and another is a 1, 4, 3 and 3. I don't know why this is. Like Bethany, I think they have their own rhythm or something.

About the only long numbers i remember in chunks of four is my debit card which is 16 numbers long otherwise I am terrible in remembering numbers. I have no idea why I don't apply it other situations like telephone numbers & pin numbers

great idea tried today at work and I retain more information

Chunking is quite useful because one is now able to break down information into modules which makes it easier to recall and assemble

I have always use chunking it works for me - organising numbers helps my memory

I make up a story for pin numbers so I can remember them in word form eg house that I lived in with the same number. I can do up to six but no more. The only problem with chunking is if I put numbers in chunks for say a phone number and give this to someone. If they read it back in different chunks I can't recognise it!

The BBC are guilty of chunking confusion. The phone number for "Question Time" is something like 08457-114411, and the end of it is so obviously double-1 double-4 double-1, so it makes no sense at all to read it out as double-1 4, 4 double-1, which Mr Dimbleby does every time. But this proves that chunking works, as I remember this weeks after I last saw it.

I always remember phone numbers and other important things like passwords with chunking and sometime relating them to events

Carol neill
Chunking may be useful for me, only to a certainl degree, I found it only partially helpful.

In school, we teach the children to do 'CHUNKING' in different areas of maths. Many who struggle at first with a new concept, find things easier once they learn to 'chunk'

alicie hogan
found this advice very helpful and can remember tel numbers much better by chunking the numbers into three numbers at a time.

I always using chunking it really helps to remember numbers from tv. it definitely works!

J. Hine
This is essential at my age. (80) The chunks must also be meaningful in order to work.

I found this very useful when remembering telephone numbers/cash card numbers as those are the main things I do most days.

I found chunking to be very useful and actually encourage friends to use this kind of technique in remembering things

june newcombe
I always memorise telephone and visa card details in this way. I know how to set a burglar alarm (not my house!) because each pair of numbers adds up to 12

I don't really find chunking useful, it's not how I was brought up to learn things like numbers.

caroline nicholson
I find chunking very useful and do it all the time to remember spelling, numbers and other lists of information, such as shopping lists or errands. For instance, I chunk errands by locations, i.e. things I need to do in town, things I need to do at my desk, things I need to do at the phone, things I need to do after five, etc.

Very useful, I had not even thought about it!

I think it is really useful I dont need my phone book anymore because I know all my friends numbers using chunking

Ian William Gibson
Very useful. I tend to chunk telephone numbers in pairs and PIN codes in date or year form

I' ve always used the chunking skill because I find it very easy. When I first got my new mobile I could remember the number of by heart straight away because I chunked it. I think you should try it. x

My commment is that when I remember phone numbers as such I tend to remember them in a tune! but I wasn't taught how to remember things in anyway I just find my own way! but now I have watched the programme, I find this very useful.

I tend to use this method alot - works for me

I deal with strings of numbers a lot and I always break them down into groups of 4. If someone gives me numbers in groups of 3 I find it very confusing!

Ram Nair
This is a practical, useful suggestion.

Chunking is very useful, like Bethany I find it helps if it has a rhythm to it.

I find numbers very difficult to remember,so I have used 'chunking' without realising it was a recognised technique

Stephen Frye
I found this a useful tip and remembered being told about it some time ago. The problem was I had forgotten the technique. I'll try and do better next time.

If someone is telling you a mobile number to remember. just forget the 07, as they all start that way. 2 less to remember.

I have used chunking for remembering numbers for as long as I can remember! I also use patterns and sequences and a particular form of logic as a part of that. Particularly useful in remembering i.d. numbers for example 8236 breaks down to 8+2 (=10)then 3+6 (=9)with the larger numbers on the outsides etc. has been useful for getting me out of that memory hole.

Have been using this method for years and it works! Useful though for anyone who doesn't already know

This is how I remember phone numbers and I am really quite good at it now!

This is absolutely true, the more you discretize the things not even numbers, it helps one to memorize in a better manner.

chunking is fine if as in this case its a number that can easily be associated to a battle ie 1066. If not, then the methodology is not very helpful

This is something we tend to see on adverts on telly. It works.

Great way, I do chunk numbers, but some are more memerable than others. Usually a number you think is going to be more important to you

Mandy Winter
I do this all the time for telephone numbers and registration plates, hopeless at maths but good with the above and money.

I use this method, but with telephone numbers I'll remember the code and then put the rest of the numbers into "pairs" eg. 27 twenty seven. I belive the French use this for telephone numbers anyway.

I chunk phone numbers religiously but I have no set pattern it depends if there is any numbers in order (123) or in a rhythm. My wife has to remember numbers by how she would move her fingers over a keypad of a computer keyboard, she inputs data all day!

Yes i tend to chunk and when I am giving telephone numbers out either to someone or to an answer phone I chunk then and think about how I woud take the message down

its really useful doing so. chunking gives the idea to remember the number in the form of codes or vehicle numbers if they are grouped into four, months or birth dates if two numbers are chunked.

I have been using this method for years and find it one of the best ways to remember long numbers.

Paul Smith
I have a minor head injury but even though they look useful I still can not remember.

I was told in the army at age 18 that I would never forget my number and at age 76 it is as fresh as ever, constant shouting it for two years and youth helps. My car number is easy LAC Les Anne(Wife) Cat Pin numbers associate with words and pictures, I do this also with non settable cycle locks of which we have three.

I always chunk numbers and see if I can find connections within them eg 134 1+3=4 or if a pattern emerges. Also helps if I imagine the numbers on a graph or as waves on a monitor.

useful I know french people remember telephone number in this way.

I have used chunking for a while now (although I never new this is what it was called), and I find it helpful, but there are times at work when I do not have the time to seperate the item as we quickly start to discuss other things, so it helps me to always have a piece of paper and a pen nearby.

I use pictures, to remember this number. I use a ball jumping on numbers, first start by jumping 123 than a big jump and return 957 than rest 00 for 10 m. and jump 66. The problem is that to make a story and picture takes time, but life continues with a lot more of numbers and stories

very usefull iam here to learn .we learn something new every day and i love it !!!

I found this useful as a reinforcement of something I already do. I must say I find it annoying when you give someone information in chunks and they repeat it in a different format, it confuses the hell out of me....

Muhamed Bin Abdulmajeed
Though I dont have any idea about the word "chunking" I found it very interesting. Actually I used to remember numbers by this method long ago. I use my right hand fingers to remember numbers (147 2580 369) like this.

I always end up chunking numbers if I need to remember them - there's usually a moment of panic when I try to spot a pattern, but I usually resort to chucks of 3 if I can spot no pattern. I sometimes try the imagery method first, but have only once ever used it once with any success (it needs time and practice to develop I guess), so imeadiately default to chunking.

I can't break the numbers down and memorize them, but I visualize a phone-pad infront of me, and as I punch in the numbers, I visualize a line and from the phone-pad I'm able to oddly see a pattern and memorize the patern which can later be translated back into numbers. Helps me memorize approx 25 numbers after punching it in about 2-3 tries

David Ballantyne
not useful -learning in bits disturbs the pattern and makes memorising more difficult

Chunking is of course useful.It always needs to combine some communication technique in your daily life. For example, your friend is going to tell you a phone number, and you do not have a pen or paper at all.Just tell your friend not to give the number until the end of the pnone conversation. When the call is over,it would be a good chance to chunk it the way you like.Your brain will work it out for you.

David Scarbrough
I chunk things too like phone numbers account numbers etc. I wasn't taught how, I just did it. It's very useful.

sarabjit rattu
Chunking is a very effective way to remember the numbers and spellings as well when combined a sort of rythm.My English teacher taught me this method to remember the spellings and I applied it to remember the numbers as well.It makes the things to remember very easy and interesting as well.

pretty useful...I find it's easier to chunk the numbers into lots of three, then repeat them a number of times and they appear to develop a cadence which seems to help my memory.

That's the only way I remember numbers! We must bear in mind, though, that the various techniques available won't suit everyone. It's a case of try and see what works for you.

Chunking has helped me to remember historical dates and statistical data with great accuracy especially when I have used cues to remind myself of the figures.

Although I find the rhythm method or breaking down into chunks you are comfortable with, what ever your choice, if you read it out, try and remember it, you might not get it right first time but by the 3rd attempt it is pretty much set in memory

I find it useful if I can pick up some sort of rhythm in the numbers i.e. one 6 digit ,phone number appears to me to start with three 'soft' numbers followed by three 'hard' numbers. I presume this is in the spoken word of the number.

Kate D
I have always used this method to remember numbers, just wish I could remember words as easily.

It is very useful, i usually have trouble remembering numbers, however I do not always remember to use it.

I use chunking when I write down telephone numbers usually in groups of 4 and 3 mainly because all UK tel numbers are 11 digits long.By the same token, this enables me to remember certain tel numbers

Am 81 with good intelligence but short term memory and faces not so good! Chunking uselful..Agree threes are easier. I think this because telephone numbers in old days were in threes. also always remember telephone numbers when the receipient speaks the number on answering. can still hear their voices from years back . Important to remember to use you intelligence which must not be confused with memory so use as many dodges as poss to trick memory. Post It Notes are brilliant. Put on front door with things like OVEN ON!!!

Like others have said, I have instinctively used chunking to remember numbers, codes etc since I was a small child. I don't ever remember being taught to use this method but it has always worked best for me (mainly with banking codes passwords identity numbers number plates and that sort of thing). Before mobile phones came along I could remember every phone number I was ever given instantly.

Kate H
I use chunking to help me remember 'phone numbers. The rhythm of the chunks is also very important. If someone repeats my 'phone number 884 665 (that I remember as single digits in 2 groups of three) as double 8 - 4, double 6 - 5 then I don't recognise it as my own!

As an accounts administrator, I have always found the easiest way to recall, check or read out numbers is in groups of either 3 or 4. I find it much easier to recall numbers than names and words.

Reginald Walters
It is easy to break numbers into chunks but my problem is how to remember the chunks. I try to place them in ascending or descending order of value. Thats fine if they are in sequence. If they are not I resort to a TV game show and remember how many higher or lower I have to go with the odd one out.

very useful... use it always for remembering nos.

What if my short-term memory is very limited but my long-term memory is without bound and limits?! Not only chunking is a good method to keep information for the rest of our life.Also,it's very important to use symbols with numbers&alphabet.For instance,abc-1,2,3...But,after all everyone has his/her own technique for keeping things in mind.

connie (13)
i instinctivly knew this technique and was also influenced by my parents,who told me this as a way of remembering its just a habit and comes naturally (if i remember to use it!!)

I have done this since I was a small child and I have no idea why I do it; I do not recall being helped to do it as a child. Thus I easily remember my NI number (which I have had for many years), phone numbers, bank account numbers, bank sort codes etc. It doesn't work for me for car registration numbers however as they include letters of the alphabet.

I always remember things in threes. If I have lots of things to remember then I divide them up into groups of three. If there are less than three things then I add one to make up the number!

Jaromir Buczek
I chunk numbers naturally. I find it easiest in threes, in my experience - 123 957 001 066. For some reason, if I try in twos or fours, I can never remember. Strange, but true.

during my young military days, I learnt to memorise grid co-ordinates and other infomation using it without really knowing its name. I use it often as far as I can.

Just to agree: I have always chunked phone numbers- but I find if someone repeats a phone number back to me, chunked in a different way, it takes me some time to readjust. I have to rechunk it my way, before I can be sure it is correct!

I always chunk numbers, whenever possible linked to known dates/repeated sequences. Works atreat!

I remember an experiment at school (many years ago) where everyone was asked to remember a sequence of 12 numbers. Half the people were asked to remember groups of four digits and the remaining half groups of three digits. It turned out that because we remember dates quite well those that were memorising groups of four digits fared better at recalling the numbers.

I have been doing this with phone numbers for as long as I remember - it's all based on rhythm, but meanings for certain chunks also help a lot. But I run into problems when people "chunk" differently than I do: I grew up in Canada where (local) phone numbers are ALWAYS 7 digits, chunked 3-4 (123 1234) When someone tries to confirm my phone number over the phone, they often chunk it into 2's or 3's, which I find very confusing, and I then have to retrieve my number from long-term storage (properly chunked!) before I can remember my own number!

I just realised that I've been doing this unconciously all the time. Its the natural way I have to remember phone and other long numbers, I do need to have some trigger (like the first number or first two) to be able to put all the chunks together though.

I naturally use this method. Especially to remember my credit card number. This can however be dangerous when something catches my eye in an online store. How can I un-chunk it?

I find this an excellent way to remember my mobile phone number. I also attach a significant story to each sequence to help me ie 57 = heinz 57 etc

Rachel Bruce
For a number of this length I naturally chunk them I don't have to think about it, it is almost like a rhythm. For me that number is 123, 957, 00, 1066 - ok so it is a personal rhythm! Is that even right?

Chunking is useful but I still find remembering numbers tricky. I hate maths and anything to do with numbers, so I wonder if that's why?!

Nick R.
I have always used this method for strings of numbers, usually 10-15 numbers long. the longest string I have memorised using this method is 20. I find that the way the number chunks "sound" in your head is very important in determining the size of the chunks and how quickly the whole string is memorised.

I'm pretty sure I do this all the time, usually 3 digits at a time. I can remember all sorts of phone numbers as a result.

Gillian Austin
This is something I have used but it had no name. I think it is a great idea. I believe a lot of people do this unconsciously.

I find chunking very helpful because I have a lot of children and grandchildren who have mobile phones also I am getting on in years

Michael Grant
I find using bus destinations and the route numbers associated with them very useful to recall less frequently used number combinations

Very useful for a telephonist in 5* hotel calling countries all over the world.

that how i learn numbers,what can put me off is if someone says a phone number in a odd sequence such as 123 456 78900 were as i always go 12345 678900

It's very useful. I use even and odd numbers to remeber phone numbers. For example 0208 2678 242. Most of the numbers in this phone number are divisible by 2.

janet stiles
breaking large numbers down to groups of 3-4 numbers make it easier to remember and if a number or group of numbers relates to something even easier. Sometimes giving the numbers their corresponding letter of the alphabet and associating an object can help with a difficult number that might otherwise mean nothing.

Owen Williams
I agree with Bethany, chunking (in group of 4 normally), combined with a rythm. is a way of remembering that I fell into naturally. Saying that, I still struggle with new numbers.

Great! My Mum used to tell everyone the end of our phone no by saying 'hips 33, bust 37'. Nobody ever forgot it!

The fact is, we have so many numbers to remember these days - PIN Nos, phone nos, membership nos, NI Nos, post codes, lottery nos, registration nos - the list goes on and on. As a result, the memory technique described has only very limited use for the short term only.

Chunking is a useful method of learning but it still requires recognistion of sequence in order for it to be effective

I have to chunk phone numbers into 3 numbers at a time - just can't do it with 2! Yet car registration numbers I have to chunk into 2 numbers at a time. I can remember other family member's car registration numbers from over 20 years ago!

I've used this technique with numbers all my life without knowing it had a name. I find it has worked for me coupled with repeating the 'chunks' silently or out loud to reinforce them.

Gareth Hardacre
Yes this could explain why it is easier to recall credit card numbers. These numbers are often written in 4 number chunks.

Chunking is very good, but it's important to still attach some meaning to the numbers or associations.

This is Useful! However, now I am 60+, I only make a conscious effort to remember numbers which I think are important. What's the point of remembering ones which are 'remembered' by your mobile phone, or come on your bank statement? I panicked about being forced to have two separate Pin Numbers, but they are so easy to remember, I wonder what I worried about! I do calculations with numbers.

That's the only way. I do not think that remembering numbers is that important. People do not expect you to remember a 15 digit number

I remember using these techniques when I was in School. However, when the numbers are broken into chunks, you need to assosicate them to something meaningful, which you need to remember and I think that could be a limitation with this technique. Say for example, what do you associate 1279 with?

Isn't this what everyone does with phone numbers? Only problem being that it only seems useful for numbers? See how it goes for you with something like a MAC address, i.e., 00:0F:3D:AF:B4:7A I find that much, much harder than a phone number of a similar length.

I find this useful, but I also add a tune to reinforce it, not only for phone numbers, but pin numbers etc.

This is a brilliant way to remember mobile numbers - I'll always remember a maths lecturer at the old Thames Poly who we had for statistics. He would work out the answer, quote it in "root" form - only his roots were bus routes e.g. answer = 19 Finsbury Park to Shaftsbury Avenue! It made the statistics lectures more interesting - given that the nature of statistics isn't!

It is useful, but only for words which you can fit into categories

Chunk in groups of 3's, 5's or 7's. Tests have shown the brain seems to find these groups easier. So my mobile number (fictitious although it might be someone's) would be 07972 411 278. Easy.

Like the majority of your responders I always use this method - probably learnt from listening to parents and peers exchanging telephone numbers (incidentally, the old letter codes were MUCH easier to remember). It's more difficult to do if the numbers aren't given to you in the chunks that you're used to.

Anne Sharples
I find chunking good for telephone numbers although I don't 'chunk' in the same way for all telephone numbers. If my husband asks me for a number and I give it to him in a 2 2 3 format he cannot take it in, but given in a 3 2 2 format it's not a problem.

I've been learning to play the drums for three years. Even a four-bar drum groove, when notated on paper, can be hard to remember. My tutor has a psychology degree, and he has always got me to 'chunk' my new pieces, learning by breaking each part of the groove into manageable pieces and repeating it over and over (looping). Then I just join them together and, hey presto!, I'm in the groove.

Chunking is a very useful way of remembering for me. I've also found that things like numbers seem to develop a rhythm of their own which is also helpful.

I have intuitively done this all my life and it works. I combine it with visualisation so I memorise a picture of the number at the same time.

Craig P
I remember numbers by chunking but sometimes add a 'tune' or rhyme to the chunks - this can be as short or long as required.

Good for phone numbers, especially mobiles. How you do it depends on the area you come from. Metropolitan British numbers are arranged in a 4-3-4 configuration i.e. 0123 456 7891 is City Code, District Code, Individual Line Number in some places. In others the Town/City Code is 5 digits and the rest of the number's 6 digits are grouped in a continuous clump: the first 2 being District Code and the remaining 4 as Individual Line Number. This happens in places like Wigan which is 01942 - Town Code - followed by the composite number, e.g. 123456 (i.e 01942 123456). A French person will remember in pairs because this is the way their numbers are presented, e.g. What you are comfortable with probably reflects the patterning from the first area you came from.

I agaree with Victoria - it's very obvious and I am sure most people do it, but it is helpful to put a name to the habit for further development of it.

Used this idea for years and works for limited periods. Works real well if you actually use the number now and again. I guesss you'd call that reiforcing!

Andrew Kindred
I'm another person who has used chunking since I was a child. It naturally seemed the easiest way to remember number sequences. Although I do find it difficult to quickly recognise the same sequence of numbers (such as a mobile phone number) if someone says them to me using a different grouping or without chunking.

use chunking to remember a great number of phone numbers,pin numbers and all sorts of numbers and pictures play a big part,any number that relates to you seems to keep with it the numbers round about it

I always use this method, theres no way i can learn a string of numbers altogether, though perhaps this is because i am dyslexic. I also try to remember numbers by associating them together. For example, I would associate 3, 6, 9 with each other.

Useful I'm really bad with numbers almost to the point of full memory wipe after a few seconds but I found this chunking /ideal

I use a sort of chunking for some telephone numbers, splitting them into groups which (somehow) "sound" right. But I seem to just be able to remember numbers. For example the 'phone number for my parents house, which they moved out of in 1978 when I was 18, is 01 399 2689!! Don't ask, because I don't know why I can recall that so easily.

Who bothers to learn phone numbers?

I have used this techniqe since I was young. I find I divide numbers into variable chuncks so patterns are made.

Majid Jafari
It is a good way for remembring numbers. I have tried it a lot and am satisfied with the result. But when the mind gets accustomed to numbers after some time, you no longer need to chunk them since your memory gets stronger by practice. Unlike what is said here memory is analoguosly like a muscle to be trained and strengthed.

sleep-over queen
i find it easy to learn them by saying it over and over again but chunking = hard

Laurie Turner
Useful- time permitting

This is useful for phone numbers -- I do this -- but it is only useful for the short term usually.

depends on my mood in a good no problem at all

I've always found chunking very useful. My wife however, seems to find the concept a bit trickier. A few years ago when we moved house, our new 'phone number had in part, the numerals 747. "Just remember a jumbo jet," I advised her. Later that day, I overheard her on the 'phone to a friend. "Just remember Concorde," were the words of advice!

I use this method to remember telephone numbers, its like a rythm. My boyfriend does the same but has a different rythm. when he recites the same number in his own way it sounds like a different number to me.

Long term I would not find this a helpful method of retaining information.

I do it all the time, and like previously mentioned I group together things in a pattern ie in a phone number 0775...116...6434. easy

It is ok to use chunking when you have a phone number written in front of you AND you have time to learn it. But how can this be used when you are on the street, just being told a phone number and you have to carry on engaging in a conversation (so you cannot repeat the number continously in your mind) ???

jean carr
chunking is a method i always use myself with numbers.

Davi Heap
aprox 3 years ago I had 2 strokes wich left me with brain damage etc, it is reasuring to learn that the problems that I think are unique to me are shared by lots of normal people, (people without any visable difficulty)

I notice how people chunk in different amounts when they recite their tel No to you. Something we all probably do unconsciously.

I have always used chunking to remember numbers or an aid such as birth dates or history dates

I don't have a photographic memory so chunking is the only way to remember a string of numbers.

shanaz ahmed
I assumed everyone 'chunked' numbers, similar to syllables in words

Joy Harker
I alwys 'chunk' numbers.

i find that i can hold much more info this way.

It's ture, it's helpful.

I too have always done this with numbers. I don't ever remember anyone telling me to do this - I've just always have approached numbers this way.

i remember numbers by imagining a dice (or 2) and then the relationship between them like how the number of dots would increse or decrese. eg 1372 1 dot + 2 dots + 4 dots - 5 dots. I can then imagine it in my head like a picture. Chunking is also useful for this so it can be split up

I have always chunked numbers, but when somebody reads back say, my telephone or credit card number in a different way of chunking from mine, I have trouble recognising it!

I used to chunk numbers but now I have got used to using shortcuts on the telephone. I shall now try to start using this method again. I am over 70 and have found I have got a litle lazy.

In my last job there were so many changes in a very short period of time, that all of a sudden I couldn't remember anything anymore. At the same time I've had a very tiresome relationship with someone trapped in her own past. What I have discovered recently is that with everything I do or think there is a certain emotional(non-positive) vibration. With 12 39 57 00 10 66 (without peaking) I managed to detach and just absorb it as is. I'll probably fall asleep with the sequence on my mind. My dear brothers and sisters, for me, this is a breakthrough. Up to the next level.

I can not remember numbers to save my life. My husband however, remembers his first ever phone number from childhood. chunking does not help. I have to write it down before I will remember it.

Excellent tips, have had severe heart failure, (still in it, and have added some renal failure, plus suprarenal failure, so am gradually fading away, am 85.

Numbers in groups of threes. Even if there are recognisable doubles in phone numbers like 932288 I can still remember better if it is divided into threes 932 288. Mobiles are 07 then three groups of three

I usually make a rhythm to go with a phone number, and if a string of numbers have a personal reference, such as a door number or date of birth, I add that.

OK for stuff like numbers but not useful for a load of names for example

I can admit, that chucing is raelly useful to remember the long part of information, and associating helps me to remember the difficult or complicated numbers or even dates.

I find it difficult to remember long numbers especialy if they are spoken, I always have to write them down. I have tried chunking but unless the number contains easy to remember chunks like 1234 or 1066 then it is no go. Last week the pin number for my credit card just vanished from my memory - embarrassingly at the check out, and so my spending power vanished with it. However, thank you Sleepless in Sherwood for the idea of giving each number a picture to remember it by it works like a charm.

not that useful. I guess I use chunking though.. in a sort of rhythm as well.

I have good memory and high IQ, but I am stll bad with numbers. I always needed more time to do the math, and also I often forget numbers, so it is useful to chunk long numbers...

barbara ellis
very useful way of remembering numbers

I always use this technique for numbers and therefore I'm good at remembering those. It's a useful method but for me, It's other words I have problems with.

I think chunking is useful for a frequently using number, but a longtime later about 2,3 months we can't remember it.

I find this an essential method for regularly used numbers - bank codes, pin numbers etc but less useful for infrequently used numbers.


Telephone operators used to be taught to deal with numbers in blocks of three. Its always worked for me

Yes, chunking works for me, especially with phone numbers. I find that it also helps to make use of, and exaggerate slightly, the rhythm of the numbers. I usually chunk the STD code followed by the phone number in chunks of 3+3 or 3+4. Interestingly, the Coventry code was changed from 01203 to 024 76, with the 76 being added to the local number, thus making an 8 digit number. My memory system doesn't like this!!!! So, I compress the code to 02476 and retain the rest of the number as a 6 digit number chinked in to 2 lots of 3. Another annoyance for me is when people do not give me a 5 digit mobile phone code followed by the 6 digit number. If they give the number with a 4 digit code + a 7 digit number, my brain says 'does not compute' and refuses to 'accept' the number until I have re-chunked it into a format acceptable for my own memory system.

Mary Hall
I have been using this method to memorize numbers naturally, it's names I can't rememger

I have used chunking for many years although I have never heard it called that before. I also try to find the 'natural rhythm in the consecutive numbers, this together with 'chunking' is most effective. Once a number is committed it stays for years. Using another method I once recalled a number first memorised 20 years before. I am now in my late sixties and my memory is still good and enables me to continue in my profession :)

I find this method very useful. I also make comments to myself like 99 one short of a hunderd or in 25 years you'll be seventy five or 2575.

I find this method very useful. I also make comments to myself like 99 one short of a hunderd or in 25 years you'll be seventy five or 2575.

I find this is the only way to remember telephone numbers. I'm usually fairly good - having trained myself - in remembering things in groups of four numbers.

Am 55 now, but have always been able to rely on memorising nos. e.g tel. nos. And yes, mainly because of dividing them up, or chunking them, as you suggest.

I remember numbers by making a mathematical sequence ie to remember 6231; this is 6 divided by 2 = 3 and divided by 3 = 1 therefore we get a sequence of 6231.

I find numbers ephemeral. They slip from my mental grasp and re-arrange themselves. However I have no problem estimating what my bill will be at the supermarket within a 50p to a £

Einstein said the brain was for thinking not storing although you have to have the information in the brain to manipulate for ideas in the first place. Technology is wonderful for storing numbers and addresses etc so I don't keep that stiff in my brain, just the technical knowledge to access the info.

its a great idea, but i would just forget the whole thing in about 30 seconds of trying!!!

I use this method also but tend to chunk according to familiarity. frequently used long numerical prefixes for the telephone form a recognisable initial chunk after which the extension number can be hung on. Bank account numbers are simply memorised as a string and reinforced by frequency of usage. Mobiles are divided into prefix and suffix and the latter into chunks but I prefer to remember mobiles in 5/3/3 pattern.

Really useful. I agree about French phone numbers. Reducing long strings to chunks of 2 or 4 works for me.

Phil Millette
I learned the first N digits of PI, 30 years ago, as a teenager. I chunked the digits into 4 or 6-digit groups, made them into a speech pattern. the numbers have stayed with me all these years. I also memorised the number E as well as the first 5 digits of all square roots of numbers up to 25.

Very usefull

Angela H
I have used this method before, with varying degrees of success. I think it depends on whats going on at the time - sometimes I've too much going on in my head to remember any one thing. My job involves visiting people at home and I can't tell you the number of times I've read the address and seconds later had to read it again because I've forgotten the number of the house.

I am also slightly dyslexic and thought the idea of chunking useful

I always use chunks for phone numbers, but the size of chunk depends on the relationship that I can find. It could be consecutive numbers(78 or 543),patterns(182 & 173).

Can remember conversations from 50 years ago - numbers; forget it! Even chunking doesn't help - they just waft out of my mind like nebulous clouds. Worst time is when I'm gong somewhere new and can't remember road numbers - A 123 or 231 or 312? Soooo frustrating!

I have always used chunking to remember numbers and I find it quite easy. It is especially useful for remembering my internet banking passwords and mobile phone secret codes.

The Belgians and Dutch also do this with phone numbers in blocks of 3 or 4. It is useful for remembering frequently used information, but less useful for infrequent use. And even in short term if all your information is in this format it can still be easy to get something wrong somewhere. But it is still a useful tool.

I think chunking numbers is something I started automatically but now I actively think about it.

cannot remember mobile tel. nos. without chunking

The French allways present their phone numbers in chunks of 2. It would be helpful if we did the same. Another area this could help with is the evr growing number of passwords and pin codes that we all have to memorise. I like it.

Sam T S Chow
Perhaps the key point is not in chunking but in creating SMALLER meaningful units from a LARGER number of meaningless figures.

Chunking is a useful skill. However, I remember numbers by attatching them to words. One is a bun. Two is a shoe. Three is a tree.Four is a door, and five is a hive.Six are sticks, while seven is always heaven. Eight is obviously a gate and nine is a line. Ten is men. I remember in pictures and create small stories in order to remember. I am aware that I often associate smell with significant memories.

very useful

I always do this, it's natural, if you have a head for numbers. I combine number chunks with patterns, ie a string of numbers represents a shape.

My parents taught me to "chunk" when I was a small girl and I've done it since than. In fact I've learn't my own children to do it!

Muriel Price
Very useful -it also explains why I need to think of the complete number - including the STD code, and also why I had difficilty to begin with when a number 1 was inserted into STD codes.

I often break, say, telephone numbers down into chunks. However, I often have a problem remembering the order of the chunks. Perhaps using a story to remember the order would be the way to go.

Deanna Pini Waldenberg
I doubt I could remember that way. I used to as a girl, but now too much. So for me I didn't find that too useful, although I will try it again. Thank you, from deanna

a different anon
I find chunking useful, but only when I actually remember to do it; or if the numbers are grouped in a rememerable way

Yes, it's useful, of course. I agree with the other comments about it being almost an instinctive approach. As with other memory tricks, it also helps to use all senses, ie see the numbers(sight) and say them(sound). I guess if you could add taste and smell it would also help but might not always be feasible.

I can only remember sequences of number if they are chunked, particularly mobile phone numbers

I think I must be number dyslexic! I find numbers jig about in my head when I try to do mental maths. Remembering odd numbers is always more difficult than even numbers eg I would have difficulty remembering whether a number was 240038 or 240058. No problems with language though.

Very useful when numbers are meaningful, not so good when they aren't.

it is a useful tecnique, but surely something everyone does naturally anyway

I can remeber quite long numbers and lists from fifty + years ago, facts that have had no value or significance to me for decades.I cannot however remember new facts or numbers at all so any internal or external assistance will be very valuable to me. I am also hopless at remembering names which can be so embarrassing during business meetings.

This seems to be second nature for most people, not something they necessarily remember ever having been taught - the memorable date system is great until you forget the thing the date is suposed to signify ...

i cant do chunks as resulting numbers can be random and meaningless. i simply enter the number into the mobile phone and forget about it.

I always use chunking when remebering numbers especially phone numbers or bank account numbers, like many others I was never taught it, it just seems to come naturally. I thik I learnt it from my mother who always chunks but also tries to make each of the numbers within the chunk relate to each other e.g. a phone number 576357 5-7=2, 6/2 =3 and then just repeat 5 and 7 again, a bit strange I realise but it works for her!!

I can remember very few numbers I do chunk my own phone number and a couple of others that have the same dialling code, but I am a bit resistant to remembering numbers, on the other hand I know many many latin plant names and have little difficulty in remembering them despite not studying latin or any other language.

I used chunking when studying - by breaking down into manageable sized chunks I was able to produce fairly detailed and comprehensive mind maps. When I started, I just didn't know what shape or how large my map would be. I often used colour codes too. Everything on the map enabled me to find,in the quickest way, a hook or link to what I needed. I always thought I was different to others because they were able to retain store and recall all they needed in exams, but I just couldn't.

I found it very useful to cut the number to just pieces so as to be easy to remember. Also for numbers that are repeated or arranged normally in series, I find it easy to chunk them. Thanks for your chunkinh technique.

In reference to Hannah's comment, why does this help pregnant women?

I use chunking all the time. It's invaluable! It makes the impossible achievable

I've always chunked, too. But I find that rhythm is also important. I live in Norway part of the time, where a phone number is 8 digits. These would always be recited in a 2-2-2-2 grouping. When mobile phones appeared, their numbers were initially grouped 3-2-3, and land lines retained 2-2-2-2. The 3-2-3 foramt now seems dying out, and I'm finding it extrememly difficult to either recite or confirm my mobile number in the 2-2-2-2 format.

I always have used chunking in 1's, 2's & 3's, plus association of birthdays and bus route numbers and other personally well known unforgetable numbers.I can still quote both my wife's and my own service number from the 1950's!!!

I have started to try to memorise important friends' mobile phone numbers because now that all numbers are keyed into mobiles and elsewhere I realised I wasn't using that element of my memory. I use this method and find it useful although some numbers that don't chunk and have no associations and have been difficult to remember.

John McG
I have always found numbers fairly easy to remember and only now learn that I have been 'chunking' from childhood as a matter of course without any idea that it was a technique nor that it had a name.

I use it all the time, it nearly always works.

Like some of your visitors I 'chunk' numbers frequently, but this has been instinctive process since childhood.

Isn't lovely to read the comments of all those toffee-nosed people who write things like "a bit obvious" and "I've always done this" (probably he also thinks he invented it). This is what makes the Radio 4 listenership what it is. Personally I think it's a really helpful tip for those who don't know of it.

It is best when a number can be divided into one part which is fairly constant e.g. account code numbers or customer account numbers where the first part has only three or four varieties e.g. 0700 or 0730 or 0780 and then the second part has say, 6 random or progressive digits e.g. 000346, 124563, 276354. Effectively you remember only the 0, 3 or 8 and/or then "translate" the first part into its signifance e.g. old, new or foreign or a phone number you will remember not 01564 as that but as Redditch or 01709 as Rotherham. You then only have to remember 7 items. The same works for accountancy codes e.g. 100435-12-32 is remembered instead as "Sale" "of a manual" by the "Service Dept" to "Belgium"

I don't find this useful as I can't remember numbers at all, even a limited number. But I can remember whole poems or lyrics to songs without really learning them. Numbers seem to "dance" around in my head and make no sense. I have to concentrate and start at the beginning even to give out my own number, but once I get started, the sounds are like a poem so I can continue. I couldn't start halfway through the number to save my life!

I've spent my whole life chunking; I thought this was how everybody worked! With phone numbers I always block in chunks of 2 numbers. Even when the number is one I know well, I still naturally say in a 2 number rhythm.

A. Resan
Chunking is good when used with something else: mapping letters to numbers and vice versa. You can do this using the code book predefined on your phone, e.g. 1-888-ROGERS1 (1-888-764-3771). Or you can create your own code book... like I did and then memorized the first 100 digits of number Pi... Each number corresponds to a letter and then you use vowels to stick them together into a word. You then use your vivid imagination to create connections among the words...

Useful idea with the learning of languages-chunking and then learning backwards as well as forwards.

Chunking is ok if u know a lot of different and useful numbers, if u cant think of a link for them then it seems somewhat redundant, and whose to say with an imperfect memory that you recall the right sequence of events or chunks. To tell the truth i think chunking has got limited use.

Why try to remember long numbers anyway? It's a waste of brain space. Pin numbers, yes, but you can make them meaningful to yourself anyway.

val kwaan
I know I've been doing this since I was very young- it feels very natural as a way of controling things.

I've used this method for numbers for as long as I can remember but it takes me many many repetitions plus I have to write it down if I am to remember it long term.

chunking is not just used with numbers. It is considered to be a way people are able to build knowing. As an EFL teacher, this means that direct teaching of specific grammar may not be very useful, far better to give learners chunks of language to study and build on, I use this by working on form rather than forms. We need to understand that learners interpret large chunks of knowledge and need to go backwards and forwards as we go along...learning is not linear!

I have been "chunking" without knowing it. My brain doesn't seem to absorb numbers any other way.

Keith Holmes
As with Frances chunking is personal. I find it can be confusing when someone gives you a phone number in their fashion, especially on the phone & in that first instance of there giving it.

can anyone tell me why this tip should be particularly useful to pregnant women?

Rami (website team)
Chunking is something most of us probably do automatically but not all in the same way. It's great for numbers but any information can be chunked. It will also improve the way you communicate with others. Whether it's an essay for school or instructions for the baby-sitter, reducing the number of individual bits of information by chunking them into related groups will help others to more easily comprehend and hence remember, what you're trying to put across.

Joyce Peng
I found I have already used this way to remember numbers, such as bank account, phone numbers, but just didn’t notice that before. Very interesting to know it and “chunking” should be a useful way to remember things, especially numbers.

This is the only way I can remember numbers. If someone gives me a mobile phone number in 'their' way of chunking, I have to translate it into mine to remember... eg 071 2345 6789 is no good. It has to be 07 123 456 789

It's a basic skill, apparently useful. However does it particularly apply to numbers? How about text, words and sentences?

I have used number chunking to memorise PIN and phone numbers successfully. If I can see an association or other pattern to the number, I let this dictate the size of the chunks.

A bit obvious - I think a lot of people already do this. You just have to look at how people in other countries do numbers - I live in South America and here, phone numbers, road numbers etc are automatically 'chunked' by everyone.

This is stating the obvious isn't it?

I have always chunked phone numbers, but have to add in differnt rhythms to make them more memorable, e.g. I use the word double to break up long numbers like 664 double 9 4.

Not useful - I can't remember the chunks, nor why I wanted to remember them!

I'm pregnant, so this tip really helps.

Chunking is a useful tool to use with lists of items as well as numbers. I chunk events for the day into chunks. for instance; what i need to do in a morning, early afternoon and late afternoon. I also chunk grocery lists by putting into catergories, ie. dairy, fresh produce, baking etc.

Halfdan Johnson
It is not a useful tip because I have already been doing it for nearly 60 years
I usually repeat numbers outloud, chunking is an easier way of doing this and I have remembered better using the block method in pairs.

I've always used this technique to remember my bank account and credit card numbers. I also find it very useful for remembering numerical passwords and IDs on various websites.

Interestingly both myself and my husband "chunk our phone numbers I chunk it into three parts and he does it in four. I am unable to use his method or rhythm of chunking numbers it seems really person specific

Alexandra McLeod
It's sometimes useful but not all numbers are meaningful.

Val Simmonds
Comfortingly useful - I've noticed that I can only retain so many numbers so I know now that I 'chunk' them.

I always chunk phone numbers into blocks of 2 numbers at a time. Can only remember them in this way.

Jeanne Niewiadomski
I chunk numbers but can only remember in this way. For example my fathers tel number was chunked into 3 numbers then 3 numbers when it changed and a 2 was put in front I remember the 2 then the next 3 numbers then the next 3 numbers.

I always chunk things like phone numbers - I wasn't taught how, I just do. It's very useful, especially when combined with a sort of rhythm.



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