Monday, 6 January 2014

My mental calendar

I have been asked to describe the mental calendar I used in this process of remembering every day that passes.

I do literally visualise a month-per-view calendar with the images pinned to the days of it. In fact, I see these laid out in a line of pages before the year in large flaming numbers to which they relate.

Over time, I have developed pronounced spatial awareness of this calendar and feel like I am stepping from one day to the other as I go through my daily refresh technique - for full details of that, click on the link under "About Me" as it changes over time.

Applying current refresh technique today, 6th January 2014, includes reviewing the 6th day of each month from January 2011. This is before I began this process, but I find it an interesting part of my routine to try to fill in blanks. The marked contrast between what I can remember before and after starting this process on 17 December 2011 also motivates me to continue.

I simply remember that 1st January 2011 was a Saturday and that starts me off. I feel like I'm on the penultimate day on the first line of the calendar page closest to the flaming number 2011. Step back a line on the calendar and I'm on Saturday 8th January 2011. Two steps to the left and I'm on Thursday 6th January 2011. I don't have an image for that day, so just remember where I was for New Year instead and move on. 6th February 2011 will be three days later in the following month, because January has 31 days. So I step back a month, then right onto Friday, Saturday, Sunday. I'm now standing on 6th February, first line, far right.

As 2011 wasn't a leap year, February had 28 days and so I know 6th March was the same day of the week, same position, but further from the 2011 numbers.

March has 31 days, so on the next calendar page, I move three spaces, looping back to the start of the week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday to 6 April.

Then a month back from the flaming 2011 and two days right, as April has 30 days, to Friday 6 May 2011. I have an image for 7 May - I was at a party that Saturday, which I remember, confirming my position on the calendar is correct.

And so on, until 6 December 2011 - another day I have a definite image for, which confirms it was a Tuseday and I haven't slipped up.

For the days since I began this process of remembering every day that passes, the image will generally come to me immediately, simply by voicing the date in my mind and the spatial awareness.

For the earlier days, there will generally be a blank, so I'll just think of something in that month I can remember.

From Tuesday 6th December 2011 it is a big step forward and a step to the right onto the calendar for 2012. I step onto the page closest to the flaiming numbers 2012, three days to the right, putting me on Friday 6 January 2012. The familiar image on that date confirms I am in the right place.

If I just pick a date at random, say 19th June 2012, and want to remember where I was and what I was doing, it may take a little time to orientate myself. I don't remember the image for that date immediately, so scan out along adjacent days. I do have a strong image pinned to 20th June 2012. The image for 19th June isn't connected to it thematically at all in this example, but the spatial connection is enough for me to remember the image.

If I have trouble remembering an image, I might have to run through the whole month to trigger the recall. If I'm doing the day-a-month review and I'm really struggling to remember an image, I'll come back later to find it. So far, this has not failed me. I've learned patience is a virtue when it comes to remembering memory tags.

As I say, I have a very strong sense of the spatial layout of the calendar, which helps me navigate it, but this is something that has developed over time. Initially, I was more picturing the calendar and sticking pins in it - now I feel like I am walking over it. I wrote a blog about this transition in perspective on 21 January 2013, when I found I could not only mentally walk around the calendar, but drop into the images to relive the moment. In fact, my memory tag for that date is writing the blog entry - I close my eyes and feel I am sitting on the sofa, with my feet up, laptop on my lap and can look around the room...

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