How would I remember that shopping list? I actually thought up the strategy of imagining my route through the grocery store departments and visualizing each item that I pick up on the way. I may or may not create an acronym of the items on the list to further reinforce the memory.

Besides visual associations and mental mapping sometimes I'll use a word association with another word or phrase which I already strongly remember and can recall easily. My immediate short term recall is really good I think. So I still use cramming and rote. By rote, sometimes, for example while reciting a script I wrote during a presentation, I'll be able to recall it better because the act of writing it out and rehearsing it caused me to inadvertently create a vague mental image of the order of the words on paper.

With this visual mnemonic I didn't need to consult the memory matrix:
A girl wearing an orange bun goes to tie her shoe but its filled with chocolate syrup. There's a dog peeing on a tree while eating from a 50lb bag of dog food. She sees a bee hive. First she sprays it with air freshener as if it were bug spray. She then grabs some wafer sticks from a giant ice cream bowl and throws them at the hive. Bees attack her. She dies and goes to heaven riding a flying cow. There are floating hamburgers throughout heaven. At heaven's gate she sees a man sitting in front slicing a loaf of bread. Animate vines are creeping along the gate and scratching some blank CDs on CD players with jog wheels. The gate opens and Jesus steps out in the form of a hen wearing a hairdo made of a pile of whipped heavy whipping cream.

But Christopher, how can I improve my episodic/autobiographical memory? I don't think mine is good. Thanks!

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