Our brains are so smart. When we see a long number, we automatically divide it into smaller segments.
Consider this number:
Our brain divides it into smaller segments called chunks. Each segment is typically 3-4 items long. We could chunk it into 2-02456141-4 but that’s not likely.
We could chunk it into 20 24 56 14 14 but that’s five chunks to remember.
We probably will chunk it into 202 456 1414 because that’s a familiar pattern to us. That’s the telephone number pattern for the United States. If fact, this is the phone number for the White House.
Here is another number, already chunked:
44 20 7930 4832
It’s the phone number for Buckingham Palace. No one would think to write it as 442079304832. It is much easier chunked.
Want one more? Here you go:
This long number is usually chunked into 949 206 714 313 307. These chunks will be more memorable if you are familiar with any of these area codes.
When you are learning your lines for a play, break it up into segments, learn some each day. When you are learning a list of vocabulary words, chunk the list into smaller parts. Break everything down into manageable bits. Smash it to bits!
Divide learning material into smaller segments. Don’t shallow the whole lecture, divide it into bite-sized pieces. Don’t read the whole chapter at one sitting. Read a section, see if you understand it. If no, go back and read it again. If yes, reward yourself before moving on.
Don’t try to write a whole book. Break it up into chapters. Break you movie script into scenes. Break you long journey into a series of small steps.
The process is called chunking. Take any long list or series and separate them into meaningful units (chunks). Chunks of similar items work best. You can chunk of color, shape, size or contiguity (things close to each other). As long as it is meaningful to you, chunks can work well for you.
You only need three or four items in a chunk. Any more and you’ll need to chunk your chunks. Try to find natural associations. Little clusters of meaning are better than long lists of meaningless value.
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- Magical Number Seven
- What Is Chunking?