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2 of the Best Techniques I’ve Ever Used to Remember My Top Priorities

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Everyone starts out with the best of intentions. Yet, how often do we forget to focus on our priorities? The answer is that even top performers can have their focus yanked away. The good news is that there are some quick tricks anyone can use to stop forgetting their priorities.

The Priority Pyramid Exercise

We all know that top performers are practically addicted to meditation. But did you know that you can use meditation to remember your top priorities better? Here’s how:

  • Of all the things you need to get done, pick just three. Ideally, these will be truly deserving of attention.
  • While seated or performing a walking meditation, arrange these priorities mentally in the form of a pyramid.
  • Mentally rotate them in your mind to “test” the level of priority

For example, let’s say your three priorities have been boiled down to writing for an hour, making some business outreach calls and publishing a new video. You would mentally rotate these priorities and ask each time a task reached the top position if it really needs to be done first.

This exercise relates to what scientists call cognitive switching, and it has been shown to improve critical thinking skills. The best part? If you practice this consistently over 90-days, it will likely become a permanent habit. You won’t have to remember to do it because you’ll be positively addicted to the exercise. 

As a result, you’ll be trained to focus on testing your priorities frequently. We know just how powerful testing can be for improving results, so enjoy the renewed success this practice brings.

“The first step to success is knowing your priorities.” – Aspesh

The To-Do List Memory Palace

Of course, all priorities come with a list of individual steps to complete. To help make it easy and fun, I suggest an ancient memory technique called the Memory Palace. Simply put, to use this mnemonic device, you take any room you’re familiar with and bring it to your imagination.

It can be any room you choose. In fact, it doesn’t have to be a whole room. You can easily just use the desk in your home office. Once you’ve chosen something, you place associations in this room that help you remember the things you need to do.

Let’s say that you decide your top priority is to publish a new video. The steps are:

  • Record the video and upload to YouTube
  • Add title and tags
  • Write description 
  • Add to your blog and press publish

To remember these steps, you could just jot them down. But that robs you of some beneficial memory exercise. Plus, it won’t help you train your procedural memory to improve so you keep taking consistent action, almost on autopilot. This technique has also been proven to increase focus and concentration, so using it is a win-win.

For that reason, I highly recommend placing associations in a Memory Palace around your work space. Like this:

In this example, I’ve used the walls and corners of the desk to attach some associations. 

  • The YouTube logo floating on the corner makes it easy to remember shooting and uploading the video
  • The image of adding a sticky note to a computer screen helps recall adding a title and tags
  • A typewriter on another part of the wall helps trigger the need to write a description
  • An image of the WordPress interface helps with remembering the final publishing step

To make these associations memorable, you want to exaggerate them a little. It can also help to have them interact with each other. For example, the YouTube logo can be beating like a heart and expressing love for the sticky notes. The typewriter can have its keys falling off and clattering onto the WordPress screen. 

By elaborating the images in this way, you form a chain between the associations that makes each part even more memorable. This is essentially how people have been using the Memory Palace technique for thousands of years. Now you know how to do it for crushing your goals too.

Obviously, this technique works for both simple and complex, multi-step tasks. The trick is to get started and practice it consistently enough so that you can develop habits of memory and associate those new skills with taking action.

“If it’s a priority you’ll find a way. If it isn’t, you’ll find an excuse.” – Jim Rohn

Combining Skills of Implementation Over the Long Term

Nothing happens overnight, and many people are not used to operating their minds as I’ve just suggested. It’s normal to be rusty when using exercises and processes like these. To help loosen up, I suggest keeping a journal for the first 90-days. That way you aren’t juggling everything in your mind. You can also use the journal to draw your Memory Palace as a simple square. This helps develop more advanced abilities with spatial memory. 

There’s no cookie-cutter advice on how exactly to keep a journal, so it’s best to experiment. That way you’re also giving yourself the gift of exploring something new and discovering exactly what approaches work best for you. This form of self-optimization is always deeply personal, even if the brain science behind it is fundamentally the same for everyone.

Finally, consider using these skills as a marathon, not a race. Before you know it, you’ll realize that you’ve developed incredible endurance. You’ll be glad that you trained your imagination and memory to help you with consistency along the way.

Anthony Metivier is the founder of the Magnetic Memory Method, a systematic, 21st Century approach to memorizing foreign language vocabulary, dreams, names, music, poetry, and much more in ways that are easy, elegant, effective, and fun.

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