When I was in college, I learned a neat memory trick that I found to be simple and surprisingly effective. I've used it on many occasions to memorize lists, paragraphs, etc. What's great about it is that you don't need to learn any special technique or visualization, etc. I'm not entirely certain how or why it works, only that it works for me every time I use it.
Here is what you need to do:
1. On an index card or piece of paper, copy the first letter of each word in the passage you want to memorize.
2. When you copy the letters, capitalize words that are capitalized and include punctuation.
3. If the passage is more than one paragraph, skip a line.
4. Carry a print out, or photo copy of what you want to memorize so you can refer to it when necessary.
5. Several times during the day, review the coded card and attempt to read through it without referring to the source document.
6. As an easy way to check yourself, try writing out the passage in long hand just using the memory card.
After a few days of using the memory card, you will be surprised at how easy it is to get through even long passages without having to refer to the source document. You will also be surprised at how much you will remember without having to look at the card. In many cases, you will remember the passage word for word. At the very least, you will remember the general sense of the material.
Here is a passage from Napoleon Hill's book Think and Grow Rich as an example:
First. I know that I have the ability to achieve the object of my Definite Purpose in life, therefore, I DEMAND of myself persistent, continuous action toward its attainment, and I here and now promise to render such action.
Second. I realize the dominating thoughts of my mind will eventually reproduce themselves in outward, physical action, and gradually transform themselves into physical reality, therefore, I will concentrate my thoughts for thirty minutes daily, upon the task of thinking of the person I intend to become, thereby creating in my mind a clear mental picture of that person.
Third. I know through the principle of auto-suggestion, any desire that I persistently hold in my mind will eventually seek expression through some practical means of attaining the object back of it, therefore, I will devote ten minutes daily to demanding of myself the development of SELF-CONFIDENCE.
Fourth. I have clearly written down a description of my DEFINITE CHIEF AIM in life, and I will never stop trying, until I shall have developed sufficient self-confidence for its attainment.
Fifth. I fully realize that no wealth or position can long endure, unless built upon truth and justice, therefore, I will engage in no transaction which does not benefit all whom it affects. I will succeed by attracting to myself the forces I wish to use, and the cooperation of other people. I will induce others to serve me, because of my willingness to serve others. I will eliminate hatred, envy, jealousy, selfishness, and cynicism, by developing love for all humanity, because I know that a negative attitude toward others can never bring me success. I will cause others to believe in me, because I will believe in them, and in myself.
I will sign my name to this formula, commit it to memory, and repeat it aloud once a day, with full FAITH that it will gradually influence my THOUGHTS and ACTIONS so that I will become a self-reliant, and successful person.
Here is the passage again, in memory code format:
S - C F
F. I k t I h t a t a t o o m D P i l, t, I D o m p, c a t i a, a I h a n p t r s a.
S. I r t d t o m m w e r t i o, p a a g t t i p r, t, I w c m t f t m d, u t t o t o t p I i t b, t c i m m a c m p o t p.
T. I k t t p o a - s, a d t I p h i m m w e s e t s p m o a t o b o i, t, I w d t m d t d o m t d o S - C.
F. I h c w d a d o m D C A i l, a I w n s t, u I s h d s s - c f i a.
F. I f r t n w o p c l e, u b u t a j, t, I w e i n t w d n b a w i a I w s b a t m t f I w t u, a t c o o p. I w i o t s m, b o m w t s o. I w e h e, j, s, a c, b d l f a h, b I k t a n a t o c n b m s I w c o t b i m, b I w b i t, a i m. I w s m n t t f, c i t m, a r i a o a d, w f F t i w g i m T a A s t I w b a s a s p.
Why does this work? My theory is that because you only have the first letter of each word, you have to use the right-side of your brain to recall what the letter stands for. Also, it keeps you out of overwhelm by giving you a prompt. Eventually, you will start to see patterns in the word that allow you to chunk together full phases. Essentially you are creating a large acronym for what you want to remember.
Acronyms have been effectively used for short phrases for who knows how long. For example, WYSIWYG. Most people know this means "what you see is what you get." And have even come to pronounce it as its own word: wiz-e-wig.
So, I encourage you to use this technique to improve your memory - especially of affirmations and inspirational quotes.