How many phone numbers have you memorized?

Tori Nonnet profile image November 6, 2023 | 4 min read

Does anyone memorize phone numbers in this digital age? Or is it a dying art? We asked members of Ooma Nation, a community of advocates for Ooma Telo, how many numbers they committed to memory and to share the categories of those numbers they recalled.

According to the 509 respondents to the September 2023 poll, the vast majority—272 members—said they have memorized five or more numbers. Only six admitted that they don’t have a single number memorized.

Which numbers are most memorable?

Here are the categories that Ooma Nation poll responders memorized:

Curious about what was mentioned in the Other* category? The miscellaneous phone numbers recalled are pretty much what you’d expect: their personal mobile phone, healthcare providers, fast-food restaurants, churches and financial institutions. Here’s what a few Ooma Nation members entered:

    “My childhood phone number, 50 years ago” ~ Jeff

    “Old numbers from childhood that don’t even exist anymore! ??” ~ Anne

    “Before smartphones it was a LOT more!” ~ Bruce R.

    “Every phone number I memorized before cell phones became a thing” ~ Donna

    “Main club house where we live” ~ Linda

    “why bother to memorize when I can free my braincells to do other tasks?” ~ Diana C.

Why memorize a phone number?

You may wonder, like Diana C., why spend time memorizing any phone number when you have a computer—aka a smartphone—that can do it for you?  Well, I advocate memorizing at least a few key ones, namely your emergency contacts.

As reliable as smartphones are, they aren’t infallible. Here are a few examples when it’s best to follow the scouting motto to be prepared:

  • On a mad dash to the airport, you leave your phone in your spouse’s car and need to call them before they drive too far away—that phone also stores your boarding pass and entire trip itinerary.
  • While commuting to work in a crowded train, you realize your phone has either slipped, or been picked, from your pocket.
  • A car accident lands you in the ER, while your smartphone remains in your car and is towed to the city salvage yard.
  • Your phone, which snuck into your dirty laundry basket, is now squeaky clean but no longer works.
  • You fell asleep and forgot to charge your phone. Just as you’re about to hop on an important sales call, you notice your phone is deader than a doornail.

You get the picture—life happens. And to be fair, it’s not always the phone’s fault. So rather than make a bad situation worse, memorize a few numbers so you can quickly borrow a phone and dial your rescuer.

Which numbers should you memorize?

Important numbers to memorize vary by person. The bottom line is that your list should include the people you call the most or those who can help you in your time of need. Your spouse or significant other, parent, boss and best friend are just a few to consider.

Tips on how to memorize phone numbers

If you’re now in the camp that agrees that memorizing a few key numbers is worth the effort, here are a few tactics to try.

Just dial. Instead of relying on speed dial or simply tapping a contact’s call icon, go old school and call your important contents by entering their digits on the keypad. If you do this often enough, the number will become part of your long-term memory.

Divide and conquer. Stretching out 10 digits, U.S. phone numbers can be daunting at first. However, they are already divided into smaller groups of numbers—the area code, the central office code and the station code—and that makes them easier to remember. Associate each group with some bit of trivia.  Say your sister’s phone number is (314) 321-2522 and she loves pie/Pi (3.14). Next associate 321 with a countdown and add her two favorite days in February (2)—her birthday (5) and anniversary (22).  Bake a pie (3.14) as you countdown (3-2-1) to celebrate your sister’s birthday and anniversary (2/5 & 22).  Granted, not every number will lend itself this neatly to personal memory cues, so you may need to get creative.

Sing a song. Hearken back to your grade school days when you learned your ABCs, farm animals and multiplication tables through song. The same tactic can work with phone numbers. Just find a catchy tune and replace the words with the digits of the number you want to memorize. Even better, pick a song that reminds you of the person whose number you want to remember.

To memorize or not, that’s the question

If you’re anything like me, you already have a hundred things to remember each day and phone numbers are probably at the bottom of that list. I get it. But, as previously mentioned, taking the time to memorize one or two of your contacts’ numbers is smart for those rare times your smartphone lets you down. Besides—think how impressed your contacts will feel when you rattle off their number from memory.

Still not convinced? Here’s a tip if you have a VoIP home phone like Ooma. Import your smartphone contacts to your online account management tool. Learn about Ooma.