As if pens and Post-Its weren't enough, the smartphone era has provided a plethora of memory aids. Apps designed to store, sort, and spit out information whenever we want it seem to have rendered redundant the need for a good memory.
But I'm of the mind that tools work best when they augment our skills and strengths, and that when we start to allow machines to fully replace human work, we ourselves begin to atrophy. Since having begun the assembling my memorization toolkit and putting it to use in the last year, I've found that I think more clearly, remember things better, and rely on my physical and digital tools much less. (Not to mention, I'd be lying if I said it didn't feel awesome to perfectly recall a 12-digit number after less than 10 minutes' worth of work.)
We've covered one of those big tools, the memory palace, in a guide here at Man Made DIY. One of the main techniques incorporated in the article, specifically used to memorize numbers, is called the Major System; it's such a powerful in itself that it's worth its own guide.
So, let's dig in to how you can custom-tailor your own major system to help you remember long strings of numbers!
When was the last time that you wrote a meaningful handwritten letter to your spouse, parents, siblings or friends? Do you remember the last time you received a handwritten letter from someone significant in your life? The odds are, you’re much more likely to remember the answer to the latter of those two questions because it felt like a special occasion. Ever since the mid-1990s when “you’ve got mail” became a familiar tagline, handwritten letters have fallen by the waste side - being replaced with emails, texts, and tweets. For so many reasons, putting down the phone and picking up the pen can be substantially more impactful.
I spent some time last week making a few DIY journals, and it made me think a bit about why I always have a stack of them filling my shelf. After looking through a few in the pile, I decided yes, they're definitely worth the effort. Here are a few reasons why.
Search “bullet journal” in Instagram or Pinterest and you’ll see a cornucopia of tricked-out notebooks. The Esteemed Society of Crafters on the Internet has truly created a thing of beauty. But if you’re one of the “Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That” (ANGTFT) set, don’t be fooled by the washi tape, calligraphy, and rococo calendar ornaments: a minimalist bullet journal is, hands down, the most efficient and robust planning tool in your productivity kit.
I think I was eight. Maybe seven. It was my birthday, and a family friend who'd taken a mentor role with me stopped by to give me a small gift. I don't remember what was in inside, but I can so perfectly and vividly recall that it was wrapped in the full, CMYK color of Sunday comics section, and it blew my freaking mind.
Oh my, the art of writing. Handwritten notes are always the classiest way to correspond, but here are a few people that take it up a notch with some of the most amazing hand drawn type you'll ever see.
Did you know you can make your own sketch and shop journals with just the materials you have on your shelf? Now you can scrap those yellow pads for something a lot more classy.
If there's a category of things I constantly have too many of, it's books. Stacks on stacks on stacks. I have to purposefully keep myself from entering used book stores since I know I already have literal piles of books at home begging to be read, not to mention stacks of books I've already read that I don't intend to hold on to. If you're past the book lamp or clock, here are 7 next-level DIY projects for those books ready to be recycled.
This video blew me away. It's a two minute super-wrap-up showing you everything that goes into making a book from scratch, and then there are longer videos guiding you through each step in the whole process. Now when we say "from scratch" we mean entirely from scratch. If this guy needs a brush to use when binding his pages, he chops off some horse hairs and shapes a twig to tie with sinew from a deer he shot in order to make a brush. It's nuts.
If you're looking for a project to keep your hands busy while watching "Elf" on repeat and stuffing your face with candy canes, check out this DIY paper [rein]deer head. It's a cruelty free way to get that modern rustic cabin vibe to bring some seasonal cheer, or just to add some visual interest to any masculine space.
Wrapping a gift isn't hard, unless you overcomplicate things. We say keep things simple and straightforward: avoid accessories, too many ribbon colors, and anything involving glitter or the word "raffia." We advocate a simple package, wrapped cleanly and correctly, with a little DIY customization to show you care.
A generation or two back, everything we read was printed with individual letters, hand picked and positioned in a tray by a patient and highly experienced printer. You've definitely seen many things printed by letterpress, but perhaps never understood or really appreciated the skill and effort it took to place row upon row of small letter blocks and hand ink the plates for pressing.
I haven’t bound a book or pressed a paper for a few years, mostly because my old press broke and I never got around to fixing it. Well, I have the need for a few new journals and decided it was time to make another press. Here are three great presses I’ll be modeling mine after
Origami is one of those unique pastimes that doesn't require much to handle the basics while leaving you with a fun party trick you can always whip out. I mean, you definitely don't want to be that guy actually making origami at all the parties, but I've definitely been out somewhere with friends and instead of absent-mindedly doodling on a piece of paper, I've folded it into something I learned at one point and people have been blown away. Mainly I think because people don't often take the time to learn something that, it always seems much harder than it is, despite the fact that reproducing them once you've mastered the technique is just like riding a bike. Here are six simple origami shapes I think all men would do well to master.