How many locations do you use?
I don’t know, I haven’t counted, but upwards of 3000 probably, spread over 30 palaces maybe. Not sure. Why would you count them? You make more based on necessity.
How do you memorize words?
2 words per location. I aim to make all abstract words into something concrete, if the word is abysmal I try to think of an abbey or Abigail from Stardew Valley for example.
In competitions I mostly choose to memorize in English, I don’t trust the Swedish translations most of the time. Even though I think faster in Swedish, because it is a faster spoken language than the American English I’m used to.
How do you memorize names and faces?
I’m not sure. I’m still learning and I think I’m still at 60% of what I could be capable of. I made a clip explaining what I do for the shortest version of memorizing names and faces, 60 second names and faces.
How do you memorize numbers?
I make numbers into images/words, phonetically. Three digits become a number, that number becomes a word, like 9 is g, 5 is “oo” and 9 is g again so that 959 becomes Google. I made an intuitive system that is consonant-vowel-consonant. I don’t believe there’s any one perfect way to make each digit into a letter, it has to be whatever comes naturally to you. For me, the “Dominic” system and the major system never felt quite right so I made up my own phonetics.
I memorize two 3-digit numbers per location.
How do you memorize spoken numbers?
I currently use my 2-digit system. I just listen and “feel” my way through each location. 4 digits per location.
How do you memorize images?
For 5-minute images, which I currently have the world record for at 354 images in 5 minutes, I have a secret way which I’ve already shared with some but won’t share again because I want to keep the record for a while. It’s pretty good though!
How do you memorize cards?
Two cards become one image. I made an intuitive system that is also consonant-vowel-consonant. The combination of the two suits decide the middle vowel and the card number decides the consonant. The amount of cards per location is dependent on a few factors that are hard to explain here.
How do you memorize binary digits?
Consonant-vowel-consonant. Each set of three binary digits is one “digit” and I read them in a box of 3×3.
The above example reads as 515 or SIS in my system, so I think of my sisters.
Two objects per location.
What is your training schedule like?
During the “off-season,” I don’t train, except for the occasional match on Memory League. For the world championship, which has multiple hour-long events, I aim for at least 3 hours a day but sometimes it can be as little as 30 minutes, depending on other projects I’ve got going on.
What’s your main advice for improving at the sport?
Have fun, you’ll learn more about yourself this way than in many other ways. I think people’s hidden sides come out during the pressure of competition.
Have you adjusted your lifestyle since starting memory sports? Exercise? Sleep? Diet?
I’ve stopped eating meat altogether (beef, fish, sea food, chicken, pork etc), but that was more for moral and other reasons. Since I stopped eating meat, I’ve become way better at the sport, but correlation doesn’t mean causation so I would be careful about attributing my success to the diet. Although it is interesting to note, 2X World Memory Champion Jonas von Essen is and was a vegan when he won his titles…
I take a B-complex, magnesium, vitamin D3 as well as a probiotic most days based on worries my relatives (who are biologists and nutritionists) have about a plant-based diet. I got my blood work back a week ago and was in an absurdly healthy range on every single thing they tested for, so I’m pretty happy about that.
In general I kind of eat what I want but aim for less cruelty on my plate.
I try to do both strength training and aerobics everyday for at least an hour total, ideally 2 hours per day.
I sleep a lot, I once confided in the director of the IKEA Human Catalogue shoot how much I slept and it made her uncomfortable and since then I don’t mention how much I prioritize sleep. Partly because I can’t have lucid dreams until the end of my dreams and only if I’ve been asleep for a very long time.
I try to meditate everyday, in 2018 I’ve meditated literally every single day. I meditate anywhere from 2 minutes to an hour a day depending on the type of meditation, I used to use Stop, Breathe, Think and I’ve used Wildflowers as well as Calm. Currently I meditate by myself.
Do you track your progress?
Not that much, I’ve tried to, but I usually only remember the big ones like the world records. I’m not even sure of my personal best in most disciplines.
I do keep a gratitude journal in which I write three new things per day related to the day that passed about what I’m grateful for, sometimes I take notes there. They are not so goal-oriented though (i.e. I memorized 10 decks in ten minutes today!), they’re more process/mindset-oriented (i.e. I didn’t feel like it, but I did 15-minute names and faces anyway).
How do you spend your time?
I sleep, eat, hang out and work out. I read, write, play video games and all that good stuff. Consume art, make art. Once a week I aim to do housekeeping which means cleaning both afk life and online life, open physical mail and e-mails that aren’t urgent, check my finances etc. Sing, dance and forever make vague attempts at retaining the languages I learned in my youth but never fully committing.
If I’m at a place of high intensity (TV/film/photo shoot, work trip, conferences, galas, award shows, ceremonies, holidays etc) I usually only have time for meditation and dancing. I try to dance as much as possible if there’s an opportunity to do so, in part to make up for the lack of working out.
How long did it take you to…?
I don’t know. I don’t track how long it took me to be sub-60 seconds with my new card system, I don’t track any of this. It all depends on what type of person you are and for me, I want to believe I’m a person who tracks and is meticulous and executes according to a thought-through and fleshed out plan… but the truth is I work better when I just go for it. Without thinking about it, just going for things and trying things out and basically just playing with the systems and playing with limits and your ideas of what is possible.