We have so many logins these days it’s difficult to remember them all, but we do know that using the same password repeatedly is neither secure nor smart. Even so, many websites demand a minimum of eight alphanumeric characters, including capital letters, and some workplaces insist you change your login each month! Memory techniques take the guesswork out of remembering multiple passwords.
What needs to be memorized:
- the password itself
- the website or service you are logging into.
These three items need images that are interconnected. It’s no use trying just to remember a password only because you may not remember what to use the password for. Let’s say I want to remember an email account login and have these details:
Website: Yahoo mail
Damo and Craig are my cats’ names so I visualise them and connect them both to Yahoo via association. I visualise my cats in the morning after they’ve been fed with their victory cry, ‘Yahooooo! We have eaten.’ (Believe me, if they could speak that’s exactly what they’d say.) Next is the password, a jumble of letters in upper and lower case, currently abstract with no meaning to anyone. Using the Yellow Elephant Memory Model we can turn the abstract into images through storytelling:
A small snail (s) goes up a large mountain (M) and as he goes up hears some very strange faint sound effects (fx) coming from a huge fireplace (F) where someone has thrown tiny goji (gj) berries. As soon as the snail picks up the berries the Queen (Q), who happens to be three metres tall, walks in.
Notice how I visualised small and faint images for lowercase letters and large, bold things for upper-case? Remember this trick. Also, be sure you use SMASHIN SCOPE to make your visualisation stand out. All that is left to do is to connect Damo and Craig with the snail story and we have memorized our Yahoo email password. When recalling this information, the first thing we see is the site or service to enter our details so we begin our story from that point:
Damo and Craig cry ‘Yahoooo!’ after breakfast when suddenly they realise they have eaten snails. One of the smaller snails escapes the food bowl and climbs up a large mountain (M) and hears some very strange faint sound effects (fx) coming from a huge fireplace (F) where someone has thrown tiny goji (gj) berries. As soon as the snail picks up the berries the Queen (Q), who happens to be three metres tall, walks in.
It may seem like a lot of mental work just to remember one password. But you should only need to do it once. Once you’ve reviewed your story a few times you should be set and locked in the password. Here are some passwords to memorize.
Once you’ve got the hang of making up stories, converting from abstract to image, see if you can use something similar for your own passwords. You can generate random passwords by visiting http://www.random.org/passwords. You can create passwords this way, or you could play with a mixture of letters, words and numbers that make sense to you. You can even join two different passwords together in upper and lower case.
Just make sure you don’t use any of these, which are the twenty-five worst passwords: 123456; password; 12345; 12345678; qwerty; 1234567890; 1234; baseball; dragon; football; 1234567; monkey; letmein; abc123; 111111; mustang; access; shadow; master; michael; superman; 696969; 123123; batman; trustno1.