Memory Take a Walk in Your Mind

The Loci System

Here’s a simple but very effective way to memorise a number of items in order, without writing them down. The ancient Greeks invented this technique so they could remember their public speeches and it's officially known as the Loci System.

The idea:

All you need is a journey or a route you already know well. Then by mentally linking the items you want to remember to points along the route, you’ll be able to recall them not just in the original order, but backwards too.

Here’s how to do it:

Step One

Decide on the route you’re going to use. It should have as many stop-off points as there are items on your list. It could be a walk you take every day, or just a mental journey around your house, room by room. The key is you need to know it very well.

Step Two

What’s your first landmark (or room)? Let’s say it’s your front door.

Step Three

What’s the first item you’d like to remember? Let’s say it’s vegetarian sausages.

Step Four

Now – and here’s the key – use your imagination to link an image of sausages, to your front door. You might think of the door as being totally covered in sausages, including the handle which squidges in your hand as you open the door …. Or perhaps there are giant sausages swinging from the ceiling that bash into you as you try to get out. Whatever image you choose make it UNFORGETTABLE. Crazy, action-packed and full of noise and maybe even smells.

Step Five

Now repeat step 4 for your next item, at the next location.

Step Six

And do this again and again until you’ve created images for everything on your list.

Step Seven

Now test yourself! Take yourself back to the beginning of your route and think of your first location: your front door. And what item do you see there? (Correct answer: sausages. Easy!)

Step Eight

Recall all your items in order … and you’ll never need a shopping list again.

Advantages of this system:

Even if you forget one of the items, you can skip onto the next one no problem.

Use this technique for:

  • Remembering what to get at the shops.
  • Memorising a to-do list you think up while you’re on the running machine at the gym.
  • Memorising key points you want to make when you’re giving a talk or a presentation (the Ancient Greeks invented this system, and used it for exactly this).
  • Remembering lists for revision – for example the abiotic factors in biology that limit a species’ success.

Transform your humble memory route into a ‘Memory Palace’ by progressively adding in more and more memorable landmarks along the way.


What is Brainsmart?

This powerful memory system will enable you to remember lists by mentally linking each item to a place you already know well. It’s simple to learn and amazingly effective.

More from the BBC

children on space hoppers

BBC Learning

Resources for learners of all ages, including video clips

Bitesize fish


Great resources to help you revise for your exams.

x-ray of human skull

Science & Nature - Memory

Try these fun challenges designed by experts.

Skip to top

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.