“My red bag is on the floor of the locker, jeans on the shelf, and my water bottle . . . I don’t know where that is, maybe in the car or by the tread mill,” I explained.
The locker room attendant didn’t care what happened to my water bottle, but DID care whether the locker she opened was the one I had claimed to inhabit.
The third try revealed locker contents that fit my description.
My workouts at the local health center became more complicated when numerical codes replaced physical keys for the lockers. The key had sported an inscribed locker number and attached to my person with a wristband. No matter how distracted when changing my clothes and securing the locker, I knew where I had stored them by glancing at the key. I didn’t need to hunt down an attendant to help search for my belongings.
That changed with the keypads. Now I needed to remember the locker number as well as the code with which to open it.
Since the opening code was a constant, I nailed that one! I used part of my social security number, which allowed me to open the locker once I found it. (Fingers crossed, so far no identity theft!)
Since the same locker wasn’t available each visit, that number changed. Post workout, I’d forget which locker was mine and attempt to open several before I gave up and contacted the locker attendant for help.
After the last locker hide and seek episode, I Googled “How to improve memory” and immediately identified solutions – mindfulness and memory tricks!
I didn’t pay attention to the locker number because my internal conversation distracted me.
The conversation went something like this:
Me 1: I really don’t want to work out.
Me 2: Yeah, but you really NEED to work out!
Me 1: Maybe I’ll just do the treadmill.
Me 2: Copout!
Me 1: Ok, the treadmill and free weights
Me 2: You’re here. You might as well do the entire workout.
Me 1: I really don’t want to work out.
By this time I changed, locked the locker, and walked the track with only a vague idea of the section of the locker room where I left my belongings.
I coupled mindfulness with memory tricks the next workout day. To test the theory, I nixed easy numbers to remember.
Numbers Way Too Easy To Remember!
Number Not Too Easy To Remember!
I picked 652 and ran it through the memory trick wringer.
Memory Trick 1: Create Associations
Scott Hagwood who is a “Grandmaster of Memory” suggested finding a connection between the new number and a number you already remember like an address or age. I kept the 6 and added 5+2 to get a 7 or 67, almost my age.
I was 67 years and 368 days old which really made me 68. I wasn’t sure if that trick would help.
Memory Trick 2: Break Long Numbers Into Smaller Parts
652 broke into 6 (a half dozen) 5 (a handful) and 2 (a couple) I imagined a half dozen hands on 2 people which gives them 3 hands each.
Although an interestingly creepy image it took a bit of interpreting. I couldn’t count on that one.
Memory Trick 3: Look For Patterns
I subtracted the 5 from the 6 that gave me 1. Then I’d leave the 2. So I’d remember 1,2.
Instead, I went with 652 being an even number. That eliminated half the options.
Memory Trick 4: Convert Numbers To Letters
I assigned letters to numbers. 1=A, 2=B, 3=C and so on. Then I thought of a sentence with words that began with each of those letters. 652 converted to F, E, B, which became “Feed elephants bread”. I then imagined an African elephant wrapping his trunk around a loaf of French bread! Bingo! A winner! I’d remember 652 forever (or at least until after my 90 minute workout).
I changed, shoved my duffel inside, and closed the door. I input my standard code to lock up number 652.
The lock didn’t click closed.
I reentered my code.
Still no click.
The battery on locker 652 failed, as did the battery on locker 651. Locker 650’s battery functioned. By this time, I had mindfully pondered locker numbers for 25 minutes and wasn’t about to trick my memory again. I noted my REAL locker was two doors down from the “Feed elephants bread” locker and hit the track.
I hoped I had less trouble remembering where I put my water bottle.