Remember everything: Evernote and Anki

I decided to write about the system that I use to remember almost everything I want, with minimal time and other resources. The word “remember” means any way to find the information you need - in your personal memory or in the computer’s memory, depending on the situation and on the information itself; the main requirements are saving time and controlling what we remember.

I want to achieve the following goals when using the system:

  • remember all the terms and words that I have ever decided to remember;
  • freely use facts in conversations and discussions;
  • to preserve the accumulated experience: to have information about all ongoing and completed projects, about important meetings and conversations, about topics studied;
  • instantly find any articles that have ever seemed interesting;
  • keep your mind free of any fluid;
  • spend all this no more than 20 minutes a day.

Below I will write about the methods and rules that make up this system. The article will consist of several sections:

  • My experience on this issue
  • Memorization problems
  • Theoretical Problem Solving
  • Practical Evernote Problem Solving
  • Practical Anki Problem Solving

My experience on this issue
One and a half to two years ago, reading the book “The Art of Living” by Viktor Sheinov, I found out that some people can “learn” new languages ​​for themselves in two or three days, memorizing more than 300 foreign words in an hour, without having any specific abilities. This was a revelation for me, and I decided by all means to learn to remember the same way.

A year later, I set a record in Russia in the field of memorization, reproducing 11 106 digits after the decimal point of the number Pi, wrote the book “Remember Everything” and learned how to memorize 150-200 foreign words per hour. And now they often ask me how many foreign languages ​​I know, but I can’t boast of anything. Maybe you noticed that the word “study” at the beginning of the previous paragraph is in quotation marks? People who remember 200-300 words per hour usemnemonics (more below), which does not guarantee that at least 10 percent of the memorized words will be remembered after a month.

Thus, using mnemonics, I learned to remember words and cards, names and faces, numbers, etc., but at the same time I did not notice any special practical improvements in life. At first, it was interesting in the company of friends to argue about remembering a list of 50 subjects, or experimenting with preparing for an exam at the university. But as I said, memorized with mnemonics was quickly forgotten, and if at first it was perceived with trembling enthusiasm, then it turned into a regular set of tricks.

Maybe everything would have ended on this, but after using mnemonics, I became convinced that in principle there are no superhumans - it's all about behavior strategies, habits and methods. And when I met a person who probably remembered no less than facts than Google, I decided to develop a system that would allow me to remember everything I wanted for a long time with minimal effort.

Memorization problems

I see the following memory problems from the storage phase to the playback phase of information.

Memorizing uncontrollably

The brain at our disposal did not have time to adapt to modern life, but is ideally suited to remember how a predator, poisonous berries or a relative of its own tribe look like. In other words, everything that has practical value is remembered, but this value is determined through emotions. We cannot just remember what we want, and remembering is often uncontrollable.

Memory resources are limited

Suppose the information somehow evoked emotions and was remembered. Will it be stored in memory?
As I wrote above, what is of practical benefit is remembered. The resources of our memory are limited, so if the information is not used for a long time, then the question arises about its practical use.

Memories are distorted

Suppose that the information is still stored in the memory and the brain found it useful. Can you be sure of this information? The answer is no. Almost everything that is stored in our memory is constantly changing. We remember not video clips and not photo-shots of situations, but sets of meanings, and when we remember something, we assemble the situation from these bricks, completing the missing parts, using logic and imagination.
It’s easy to make sure of this: almost everyone has the situation when you remember something and see yourself from the side. But we perceived the information not from outside, but from the first person.
Another example. Why do people sometimes argue about how things really were? Each time, returning to some kind of memory, we change it a little and then sincerely believe that everything was as we remember.

Playback problem

When we re-encounter information that we have already encountered, it seems to us that we remember it, but this is not entirely true. We can recognize it, but not reproduce it. I will take an example from my life. Once, they shared with me a link to an article that talked about a woman who came from India to Moscow and demonstrated her mathematical abilities.
Recently I needed to find this article, but as it turned out, I didn’t remember the woman’s name, nor exactly what she was doing - nothing but four keywords: “woman”, “Moscow”, “India”, “calculations”. Yandex did not give anything, I did not get into correspondence in vk, because it was a very long time ago and I did not remember with what words this link was sent to me. Google helped out, but I spent 10 minutes searching for the very article, instead of 10-15 seconds that could have gone, use the system I will write about below.

Theoretical Problem Solving

All the information that we may need in one way or another can be divided into 2 types:

  1. Information that you need to quickly find if necessary;
  2. Information you need to know.

The first type requires a note system - more on this in the evernote section.
Below are the existing methods for working with information of the second type.

Mnemonics solves the problem of memorization

Mnemonics is a set of techniques that facilitate memorization. Any mnemonics is a way to make the target information more emotional (meaningful, important) and logical (understandable, regular).
A good example of the use of mnemonics is memorization through the associations of the number e.
how to remember that e = 2.718281828459045
If you divide it into several chunks (groups) and give each chunk some association value, which means something to us, causes some emotions, then remembering a group of numbers will be simple, simple.

Chunks to remember the number e:
2.7 - probably already remember;
1828 - year of birth of Leo Tolstoy;
1828 - once again;
45 90 45 - right triangle.

Another method of mnemonics is the placement of visual images on locations. Images evoke a lot of emotions, and locations are remembered by themselves (historically, any living organism had to process spatial information, so the brain was used to working with it). I remembered the number Pi up to 22,528 characters, placing pre-invented images of numbers in order in Moscow. When I needed to reproduce the number, I mentally walked along the same route and collected the placed images. In the practical sections below, I will show techniques that can be used daily.
There were already articles on mnemonics on the hub - Acquaintance with mnemonics , Mnemonics: you can remember everything . There is a series of articles on the 4brain website.

Interval repetition solves the storage problem

As already mentioned, the stored information can not only be forgotten, but also change over time. There is only one way to solve this problem - repetition. According to some theories, a part of our limbic system, the hippocampus, starts the mechanisms of automatic repetition of information if a certain amount of emotions was received during its memorization, or if the information occurred a certain number of times.
The most effective way to repeat is to repeat at increasing intervals. For example, increase the time of the next repetition by 3 times: the
first repetition - in a day;
the second - after 3 days;
the third - after 9;
the fourth - after 27;
Moreover, the information will be remembered almost as well as if it were repeated every day.

A good article has been written on this topic - The development of memory: the method of interval repetition
and there is another article on the hub - Derek Sievers: "The method of interval repetition is the best way to learn programming languages"

The hook method solves the playback problem.

Here I’ll say quite a bit, since the name itself makes it clear what will be discussed, and by and large, the method of hooks is included in the concept of mnemonics. For almost any information, we have a set of associations-clues by which we can either restore information from memory or find it somewhere.
We can also create artificial clues that will allow us to remember something at the right time. Read more in the evernote section.

Practical troubleshooting for evernote

Evernote solves the indicated storage problems for information that does not have to be kept in mind. For those who don’t know, evernote is a multi-platform smart search note taking app.

In a nutshell, I use evernote, so that if in 15 years I want to remember some project or conversation, then I could find it in a few seconds and restore all the necessary information.

It is advisable to create notes for everything that you may ever need. I will give a few examples of what notes I keep:

Articles on the Internet
I upload any interesting article to evernote as a bookmark or a simplified page in two clicks via web clipper evernote
This is just the case when you may need some article (and this happens quite often), and it can be found in less than 5 minutes but in 10 seconds.
For some articles, I write keywords in the note (for example, the name of the person who sent me the article), so that later it will be easier to find it.
I keep one note with a list of projects to always understand the overall load.
I also create a separate note for each project, where I bring all the ideas, tasks, conversations, thoughts and other information on the project. Firstly, it allows you to keep all the information at hand, freeing up RAM for solving current problems. Secondly, it allows you to store the experience gained - if someone asks you in a couple of years (or needs something yourself) about the details of the project, you can always quickly get the necessary information.
Daily plans
To do this, there is a universal note with daily plans, which is edited daily
Books I am about to read
There is a universal note that is constantly updated. In it I enter the names of the books; links to them; a brief description, if available; the person who recommended; a photograph of a book if I met her at a bookstore.
Work meetings held
After the meeting is over, I open evernote and create a note, writing down in a nutshell facts, ideas, understandings, etc., which in my opinion may be needed in the future (if this, of course, was).
Any interesting meetings, conversations
It happens that after some conversation you learn a lot of new things, or some ideas come, plans arise, etc. Usually, the general emotional impression of the conversation, the topic is remembered, but facts, interesting thoughts and ideas may be lost. Therefore, it makes sense everything that seems curious and interesting, put in a note with an approximate name "Meeting with N".
Materials studied
Having sorted out a topic, I create a note with a mini-summary so that you can always return the knowledge gained. Sometimes I make notes on paper, take photographs and save it in evernote.
Book abstracts
Notes are also created for books to be read, in which all interesting thoughts and ideas are recorded.

All this is not necessary to keep in mind - even harmful, because memory resources are limited - and the keywords by which you can find the information you need will be remembered by themselves.

Find a note quickly and easily.

Firstly, there is a search with a leading input function that can recognize text even in pictures. For example, I drove the first four letters of the word “memory” into a search - and found the photographs I had once taken in a bookstore.

Notes can be sorted and searched by date modified.
Notes can also be searched through the “atlas”:

For example, if I suddenly cannot find a note by keywords, but I remember that I created it in Turkey, then “Atlas” will come to the rescue.

How to remember to create a note

For this, I usually use two methods of mnemonics:
Lead Method
Here I would like to talk about a method that can be used in everyday life and which can be learned in just a couple of minutes.

What can you do if you learn?
Keep in mind 10 or more (20, 30 ...) new ideas.

Why is this needed?
For example, remember twenty thoughts from a readable audio book and enter them into the synopsis upon arrival home.
Remember 10 key points when preparing for a public speech.

The method itself.
For numbers from 0 to 9, images are created (try immediately remembering them associatively):
0 - an egg;
1 - pencil;
2 - swan;
3 - chest;
4 - ship;
5 - hand (five fingers);
6 - cherry;
7 - an ax;
8 - hours;
9 - a telephone receiver.
These images are easily attached (memorized) to numbers and then can be used to remember any other images.

Let's say you need to remember a list of 10 words:


How do we remember?
We simply present vivid images with all the words in sequence. First, we throw (mentally) an egg (0) into a working fan and imagine how it explodes and splashes the entire room. Next, pierce the laptop with a pencil (1). Then we lock the swan (2) in the closet. Try to remember the rest of the words yourself according to the described principle. You will remember not only the words themselves, but also their serial numbers.
List again
0. Fan
1. Laptop
2. Closet
3. Cactus
4. T-shirt
5. Rosette
6. Bird
7. Book
8. Mountain
9. Briefcase

In the field
When you listen to an audiobook and find out some fact or idea that you want to be included in the abstract, then: select
one keyword for the idea;
select the image of the keyword;
associate the image with the number-hook, as we just did;

For example, you listen to an audiobook and find out that the total weight of bacteria living in the human body is 2 kg.
The word is bacteria;
Image - shoe (ciliates shoe - from school biology)
Mentally break the shoe egg.

When the images end, you can go the second round. In the example, an egg shoe was broken. Suppose 10 leads are over, and we need to remember another word - say, a TV. Imagine how then we break the TV screen with the same shoe.
Place Method
The place method can be used not only to memorize tens of thousands of digits of Pi, but it can be used almost daily. For example, some thought came to you, or you heard some term that you want to remember. I don’t feel like getting into my pocket behind the phone (for example, because you are walking down the street in winter at minus 10).

How to remember an idea?
Translate the idea into an image.
Place this image in your room.
When you enter the room, you will recall all the images that were placed there in a day
Suppose you got an idea that you want to discuss with your friend. Imagine as if your friend is in your room - for example, jumping on a table (unusual images are well remembered). When you return home, then, having entered the room, remember that you wanted to discuss something with a friend.

Practical resolution of problems with anki

Anki is a multi-platform interval repeating application. As you already understood, it solves problems with the information that you need to keep in mind.

Examples of information that I enter in anki:
New words, terms that occur several times, and each time you have to climb into google for their meaning. To save time, I began to memorize such words and put them in anki.
Any facts that you want to keep in mind. For example, you are conducting a discussion with someone, you say that scientists have already proved this (some fact). You get a logical question: what kind of scientists, when, where? And you can’t answer, because the brain easily remembers meanings, not names.
It’s one thing when you say that scientists have proved the need for about 200 repetitions to memorize words, and quite another thing when you say that Cambridge neurophysiologist Yuri Shtyrov conducted a study with 16 volunteers and found that after 160 repetitions, the brain responds to a new word as already known. When you say this, your words are given more weight.
Foreign words
Now in my anki there are 1377 cards with only foreign words, and today only 37 cards had to be repeated.

How to use anki

Download the application . There are versions for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iPhone. Version for iPhone is paid.
Create cards of what you want to remember. For example, the height and location of Everest:

You can add images, links, sounds.

You can edit the appearance of the cards:

The repetition itself will look like this:

When you click “show the answer” you will be asked when to show the card the next time:

By default there is a factor for increasing intervals of 250% - that is, when you answer “just right”, the interval increases by 2 5 times. In the settings it can be changed.

Video “anki tips and secrets”

Rules for working with anki

  1. Stop by anki every single day! This should become a habit: no matter what happens, no matter how little time - you cannot skip classes in anki (this will not cause problems, given that on average one session will take about 10 minutes a day, and it can be done on the phone in the subway or in line, the most important thing is to realize that this is the only way to remember effectively and remember for a long time).
  2. Create simple cards to which you can give an unambiguous answer. As in the example above: the height and location of Everest? - 8848 meters, China. An example of a bad card: “Describe Everest” (the first time I created about such cards - and this is a waste of time).
  3. Create cards based on what you need to remember. For example, you want to remember that Susan Jaggy and Martin Bushkül conducted a study of working (short-term) memory and noticed the connection between the development of working memory and the IQ level. The meaning of the study will be remembered in itself, so it will be necessary to repeat the names of scientists (university, year of study, etc.). I limited myself to names and the university, and my card looks like this:
  4. Be honest. You can’t remember the answer - press “I don’t remember”, even if after viewing it already seems obvious; you can’t remember the answer instantly - click "hard."

I have indicated the most basic, in my opinion. There is an article in English with 20-Tew drawing card rules .

How to memorize cards

Most often it is more convenient to apply one or another method of mnemonics. For example, you can remember that the height of Everest is 8848 meters, paying attention that the first consonant in the word “Everest” is “in”, it is the first consonant in the figure 8. Roughly imagine that the height is 8800 meters plus 48 (number chromosomes in monkeys) meters. Imagine that Everest was conquered by a monkey. Such associations will allow you to easily remember this number.
The names of scientists can be remembered by associating them with the names of people already known to you. If there are none, then try to find other associations. Sometimes, of course, it will be easier to just memorize. To remember the names of Susan Jaggy and Martin Bushkül, I used only one association: Martin's name is the same as the main character of the book “Martin Eden”.


As a person who has devoted the last two years of his life to researching the practical issues of using memory, I can safely say that counting on your own memory, no matter how good it is, is pointless - you need a system. However, the system will only work if you use it systematically.
Go to anki daily to repeat the cards you created, write down and mark all the important information, and after a while, the quantitative changes in your daily small efforts will go into the qualitative consequences of having an ideal memory.

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