Remember Everything: Roman Room Method

    “Record everything!” Says GTD guru David Allen. Create a recording system that you fully trust, and - record everything!

    The advice is excellent, but not always at hand is a system that I trust. And not always, I trust her. There are situations when it is impossible to write or read recorded. On a run, for example. On the brink of sleep. In the bath. During a storm on the deck of a caravel.

    In the end, this wonderful system can be lost somewhere.

    In such cases, you still have to use the head, but not loading it. And the best way I've known to do this is the Roman room method. It is also called the palace of memory or the road of Cicero.

    When I decided to try this method, I expected to find a ready-made recipe on the Internet, how to do it correctly and conveniently, but I did not find it. Most texts explain only the basic principles. Yes, and not always explained, many authors clearly write from other people's words. The devil is in the details, and silence is about them. I did not find answers to questions arising along the way, so I had to write them myself. That's always the case.

    Please note that I was primarily interested in the organization of time. Rather, notes and memos intended to be entered into the traditional system of organizing affairs as soon as it is available.

    We state the problem

    Firstly, the system should allow reliable memorization of the list of ideas, deeds and questions so that later it can be processed and moved to an external storage. Secondly, you need the opportunity to remember things on time, that is, on the right day, even if I can’t hear any reminders on the phone.

    Briefly about the Roman room method itself. A room is created in the imagination (or a road, or just some place). The concepts to be remembered are associated with the elements of this space, with objects in it. After that, for recall, it is enough to imagine this room or mentally walk along the road, recalling the associated information. This is the basis of the method, which I changed a little.

    We realize the system

    I created six rooms according to the number of days of the week, with one common room for the weekend. You can do seven if you want. The ideas that come at the beginning of the day are put into the room of the same day, I sort them out by day or evening. If I can return to thinking about them only tomorrow, then I put them in tomorrow's room.

    What you need to remember to do is put on the eve of the right room, this is understandable. A weekly horizon is more than enough, more than a week is planned in SmartProgress and on paper.


    After a couple of weeks of operation, relying on the accumulated experience, I introduced another room - “evening”. It is a short-lived buffer that is cleared before bedtime. There are things that need to be done in the evening of the current day: to call after work at the bank, “dear, buy milk” and the like. Actually, this is not my room. This is a windowsill against the backdrop of a wonderful winter night landscape. Evening. And the window sill is enough. If not enough, then there are too many cases, it is necessary to thin out.

    Details and subtleties

    And now to those very particulars that I did not find in other articles and which worked for me. For example, I refused the recommended movement on a certain route in the room, my rooms are static. But he introduced the concept of surface, which greatly streamlined the process.

    The Roman room itself is a room that you can well imagine and feel yourself being there. Should it be real or can it be invented? It does not matter. As you prefer. But if it exists in reality, then it should not cause strong emotions, but if invented, you need to immediately think through all the details, remember them and then do not change them for no particular reason. The room will need surfaces for placing objects - a wall, a table, a counter, a counter, but there should not be objects themselves. Because everything that is not pinned to the room will be the very memories that you want to keep.

    Spend some time working out the rooms. It is only necessary to clearly visualize the surfaces themselves, the rest of the room can be dim, the main thing is that different rooms should not be confused with each other. Select the number of surfaces depending on the expected number of reminders. Remember that a person simultaneously perceives 7 ± 2 objects, so on one surface I do not risk placing more than five. Personally, I always have two surfaces on the room: a wall and a table or counter. Sometimes a sign hangs from the ceiling.

    How to use

    Imagine yourself in the right room, remember the main details of the case that you need to remember, come up with a suitable item - from a torn sock to a diadem with diamonds - and place it on the surface. Each time you update the list of items, remember everything that should be there.

    Follow the intuition. And at the stage of creating rooms and during the operation of the system. If something stubbornly wants to look different from what you think is right, allow. Do not invent an object, but take the one whose image first surfaced. I don’t know why one telephone conversation looks like an iPhone to me and the other like an ancient wall-mounted device with separate handsets. And the third is like a skein of wool. Apparently, this is necessary, I just do not resist. The subconscious mind clearly knows something. Do not strain, in a few days you will find that the system is working, and you will begin to trust it, and it will work even better from this.

    I met recommendations to put potatoes and a bottle in the room so as not to forget to buy potatoes and wine. God forbid. Straightforwardness will ruin you; it is too boring to remember.

    Recently, he began to experiment with nesting. As an additional temporary surface, I present a tray on which all kinds of small things are laid out ikebana. It turned out to be very convenient to create a list of notes for the book being read in the “hanging with deflection” position in the subway.

    The system we are talking about is not intended for long-term storage. My rooms are emptied regularly, which is why I use freestanding objects, not landscape elements. If you intend to spend five years in seclusion and memorize notes for future memoirs every day, you probably need something else. Or the same, but otherwise organized. I will definitely experiment with this method to remember the abstract of a voluminous instruction or something even more fundamental, I hope that it works, but I haven’t done it yet. If you have such an experience, tell us in the comments.

    And of course, remember: this is not a take of the recording system, but a crutch in case it is unavailable. “A person should not depend on the length of his sword,” said Miyamoto Musashi. And it should not depend on the availability of a notebook, we add. But when the book is available, record everything!

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