I stumbled across a website that was talking about the “magical number seven, plus or minus two“. The Wikipedia article that I link to has some great stuff. It’s really quite fascinating. I myself have found that I am able to really track 8 things at a time. If I’m stressed it seems to drop to 6. I use this quite a bit for making lists. Most lists I wish to make are short (less than 7 items) but I often wish to make them when I’m without a writing device (no PDA, pen and paper, etc.). So what I do is simply think out the list and make sure I firmly remember the number of items. Then, when I need to recall the list, I quickly think of the appropriate number (which is easy to remember) and the items tend to “fall out” of my memory quite easily. I have tried to track multiple lists and can succeed in juggling a few (although it’s unnecessary since I rarely have more than one list in my mind at a time).
Sometimes I wish I was autistic (since many of autistic people seem to have this cognitive numeric limit removed). It would be fun to track lists that contained hundreds or thousands of items.
Okay, well maybe not “fun” but useful.
Or I could just get a digital voice recorder.