One of the first things we learn about spies is how to train your mind to increase your memory capacity, this increases the chances of success in their missions and staying alive.
“When an agent is discovered, the situation can get complicated in a matter of minutes. Agents are still people, so they can get excited and lose control”.
“If you get caught by a neglect of memory, not me. You will be killed in a transport accident or simply you will be kidnapped, tortured, and killed.”
Reed calls this system of memorization as a technique of “my home“. In reality, it is more than a technique of association of images.
The technique of the spy
There are two things that you need to imagine in your head. The first is the “known” (your home), and the second is the “unknown” (the information that you need to remember).
The known part:
Imagine the home of your childhood. Nothing happens if you’ve lived in another place for some time, what is important is that you think of a house that you know very well. One in which you have lived for years, even better if you’ve grown up because you know better its quirks, nooks and crannies and hidden corners.
Now imagine doing a tour through your house. Start by example from the front door and proceed down the hall to the kitchen, the bathroom, and the bedrooms. See it for the rest of the house and then back out through the main gate. During the tour, observe the corners, the nooks, the imperfections, the furniture, etc.
Keep this journey in your mind. The second thing that you need to imagine in your head is the “unknown”.
The unknown part:
Observe the situation around you. What do you need to remember? What is something that someone is saying, are they telling a story? What is an image where you need to remember the color and the exact shape of something or the setting of a room in which you need to remember the exact location of each object? What is a long number? What is a sequence of events?
You try to break it down into information elements. Now, take each relevant element of the situation, conversation, history, environment, or image that you need to remember, and place it in an area of the tour of your home. For example, put it on a shelf or on the top of the cabinet. Follow by placing each element in an area of the circuit along the way.
You try to caricature every element to make it more comical. The more graphical and ridiculous it is, the better it will stay in your memory.
Once you’ve placed each element within the tour, return to the start of the circuit.
Now, cover the route in your mind and look at the items you’ve placed in each area.
When you place an unknown item in a place of a journey that you know perfectly, you are becoming such a foreign element into something recognizable, that is to say, you’re integrating this item in your memory.
Reed says that during his training to become a spy, he often had to remember up to 100 items, but in an everyday situation, you do not need to remember more than 20 items of information to remember improvement and important events.