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How Memorizing A Deck Of Cards Can Increase Your Cognitive Ability

Maturing yourself cognitively can seriously help your personal and work life.

How Memorizing A Deck Of Cards Can Increase Your Cognitive Ability

In 2009, Ron White set a record for the fastest time to memorize a deck of cards. He did it in 1 minute and 27 seconds. And the record stood for 2 years.

How’d he do it so fast? The good news is that you don’t have to have the natural-born ability. You can do this in just over 6 minutes on your first try. And all you have to do is leverage Ron White’s system.

and it consists of two things:

  1. creating a mental map
  2. creating substitute images for each playing card


soiree cover story ron white memory champion
@ronwhite, artofmanliness

To do this, plan on taking an imaginary walk. You’re going to be memorizing items as you go. Walk down a path you’re familiar with (like a walk back from work, a walk in your house, a walk you take for a break, etc…). During this walk, you’ll need to select 52 spots to store in your mental journal.

then follow these steps:

  1. Pick 5 rooms in your house (bedroom, bathroom, etc…)
  2. Memorize 10 pieces of furniture in each room. Stand in the doorway and look around. Number 10 large items in a clockwise direction. The first item could be your bed, the next could be your dresser, etc… Just be sure that the items you pick aren’t items you pick in another room. And choose large items over the small ones.
  3. Repeat this 50 times over and over until you can close your eyes and say them perfectly and quickly.
  4. Add 2 more pieces of furniture at the end. In a new room or even landmarks in your yard.


Use your creativity here. It’s up to you what image you want to map to the cards. Every card needs to be turned into a noun (person, place, or thing).


  • King of Hearts could be your dad
  • Queen of Hearts could be your mom
  • 7 of Hearts could be dice because of “lucky 7”

You get the concept. Just create images that make sense to you. Then spend time looking through the deck of cards over and over until you can match your image that goes with the card without hesitation.


Now that you’ve memorized a map of your home and have pictures for every playing card, set your timer on your phone and then pick up the shuffled deck of cards.

Go through the deck as fast as you can. Imagine the pictures for the cards one by one on your furniture.

If you see the first card is 7 of Hearts, imagine the dice flying out of the first piece of furniture you mapped. The more dramatic the image that’s in your head the more likely it will stick.

The second is the King of Hearts, imagine your dad looking for his watch in the drawer of your second piece of furniture. Keep doing this till your done. Stop the timer. Set the cards down. Grab another deck and then reassemble the deck to match the first deck by mentally walking through your home.

Then keep pushing till you can go faster than you thought was possible! You’d be surprised how quickly you’ll be able to go.


A cognitive workout that I do is called productive meditation. The best part about this is it can be done at times where you’re physically present but not mentally (a ride on the subway, drive to work, in the shower, etc…).

Put your phone away. And embrace the boredom. Focus on a specific problem (proposal you need to do for work, a new content piece you need to write up, a design you need to put together, etc…). And just continue to focus on the problem. Think of tactics on how you’ll solve it. If you catch yourself distracted or focused on something else… note it, don’t be hard on yourself, and bring it back to the problem you’re focused on.

This will take a lot of work and time to get used to. But I’ll have you know I’ve come up with some of the best solutions to my projects and problems by practicing this.

Interested in diving into this space further? I highly recommend reading Deep Work by Cal Newport. It’ll change your life.

All, Story of the Week


March 27, 2022

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