10 Steps to Remember What You Read
Have you ever read something, especially something interesting that you thought was fascinating, and after a day or two you found out that you have no recollection of what it was?
Have you ever studied for hours just to end up with less knowledge about the subject that you started with?
Most of the time we spend reading and studying, we are actually activating our recognition and problem-solving centers in our brains. Learning to remember requires a different approach.
1. Accept the "this or nothing" rule.
For the remainder of the list to work, you should approach your study or reading time as single-mindedly as possible. You are allowed to do either the task at hand or do nothing. You are allowed to walk around the house, look out the window, sit in front of the computer, but you are not allowed to do anything else. During the time allotted to work, you cannot check email, you cannot check social media, or do anything else.
You need this rule to make sure that you train yourself to focus quickly when you are working in short bursts.
2. Use Pomodoro technique.
Pomodoro is a time management technique in which you work for a short amount of time and get a quick break in between.
The research says that massing up study time decreases the retention of the knowledge you studied. If you want to recall what you read or studied, it is better to get small chunks of knowledge instead of binge-reading or studying.
I use the classic pomodoro technique, in which I work for 25 minutes and take a break of five minutes between two study sessions. After doing four study sessions, I take a break of 15 minutes.
3. Take Hand-Written Notes
Studies show that taking handwritten notes increases the retention of knowledge. While typing might feel better when taking notes, research and personal experience show that handwritten notes work better and usually end up with better creative insights later on. The tactile experience of writing helps with memory.
4. Be strict about your allotted work time
If you have decided to work for 25 minutes like I do, at the end of 25 minutes, stop working. It might seem counterintuitive to stop working, especially if you still want to work or you are interested in the subject you are studying or reading. But if you keep stopping at 25 minutes, you will get many benefits. Follow me if you want to make sure to read the list in which I talk about the benefits.
5. When it is break time, get up from your chair
If you keep sitting or lying down when it is time to take a break, you might be inclined to keep on reading or working, which will be detrimental to your overall performance. But this is not the only reason I suggest you get up. It is proven that sitting uninterruptedly shortens life span, and getting up every half an hour or so has tremendous benefits, including but not limited to making you healthier, leaner, and also shaking off sluggishness.
6. Not every break is equal
If you really want to remember what you have been reading or studying, take that five-minute break as an opportunity to think about what you have been reading and try to connect that to what you already know. This is a tremendous exercise that expands your knowledge base and makes recalling, a.k.a. remembering, what you have read way easier.
If you want to chat with somebody or do something on social media, use these small chunks of time to do that. But never let yourself linger longer than your allotted break time.
7. Every day, type the previous day's notes
This is where the magic of learning happens. Research shows that recalling learned knowledge within 24 hours improves learning and memory of the subject. Also consider the typing time as a way to expand on what you have read or studied, and turn the thing you have studied into a knowledge of your own by creating new insights from it.
8. On the weekend, read the week's notes
On Sundays spend a couple of hours skimming through the week's notes. Our brains tend to form stronger recollection networks if we gather the same information at different times. By reviewing your week's worth of reading, through your notes, you recall what you have read and stimulate brain activity that will ensure your learning.
9. During the year, randomly read your notes
It is advisable to take your notes on an app that you can access from your phone. This way, you can check your past notes instead of spending time on social media. It is always better to have your own ideas instead of depending on others' intellectual vomit to pass the time.
10. Connect your notes to your other notes
As you keep on taking notes, learning stuff, etc., start connecting subjects, organizing your notes into a coherent whole. This activity makes everything you have read or studied your own.
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