How to Retain Most of What You Read

There’s nothing like reading. It can give you a superpower over time if you read consistently. But reading alone is not enough. You need to read, be able to remember the key insights, and internalize them to create a meaningful change in life.

And if you don’t remember anything of what you read, then maybe that reading is of no use. Here are some simple tips to help you remember more of what you learn:

Deconstruct What You Are Trying to Learn

One of the main reasons why most people fail is because they try to grasp all of the information at once. And that’s completely wrong. That’s not how our brain works. We need to learn to chunk the large piece of information into smaller pieces. 

This way it becomes easier for your brain to understand the new information. Also, learning by creating chunks help us to understand the bigger information more easily. 

Know About the Focused and Diffused Mode

Focused and diffused modes are two modes in which our brain works. What the majority thinks is that when they are learning something new, all they need is to be in focus mode. But, that’s only partially true. You need to switch between focused mode and diffused mode to learn and retain better.

Focused mode is a conscious process where we are focused on particularly one thing. But, the diffused mode is not a conscious effort. It is spread over multiple areas.

Therefore, don’t try to learn all of it at one time. Instead, take productive breaks. The Pomodoro technique can be most helpful in this case.

Create a Visual Metaphor and Analogy

A visual metaphor is a creative representation of a concept, person, place, thing, or idea through an image that uses analogy or association. In another word, it can be defined as the association of a known idea, object, or image with a new idea. 

While creating visual metaphors, you don’t have to follow any rules. You just create what helps you understand the concepts better. They don’t need to make sense to others either.

Research has shown that students understand better when teachers form connections between the new topic and what has already been taught.

Test Yourself

Testing yourself right after you read is shown to be more effective than testing after a long break. So, if you have just finished reading something, it’s now time to test yourself on how much you retain.

The best way to test yourself is to try to recall. Actively recall what you have read, create a note and notice what you forget. This way you will train yourself to remember more and retain better.

Spaced Repetition

Spaced repetition is a powerful technique used to retain information that you read and is very useful. It involves spacing your revision and reviewing topics, ideally by active recall, at specific intervals over a period of time. By spacing our repetition by a day, 3 days, then a week, we allow ourselves to stick that information in our brain.

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