Perhaps you too find yourself forgetting what you’ve read from books, articles, audios. Can you remember what you read this morning? Is it still fresh in your mind? Maybe you’re asking yourself now and there – “Why cannot I retain information when studying?”.
From the study I did on the matter I found some interesting, useful and practical information that can enhance your ability to store information, while I had to filter out ton of information that was nonsense and contained no practical value.
So let’s get it rolling.
How to retain information from books, articles and etc?
I found out that the best way to remember some important information is to highlight it. Once you start reading a book or an article, grab a pencil and highlight all the information that you consider essential. After you finish the book, export all that highlights on a separate list.
But what if you’re reading an ebook? Is there an effective way to store all the best highlights you’ve made?
There is an app called PdfHighlights that lets you export all your highlights from your ebook in a matter of seconds. The app will saves you time in copying all those highlights.
2. Review the information
Now that you’ve learned the first step of highlighting, there is something else that can help you enhance your retaining abilities.
The mind needs to go through the information as often as possible. Building the useful habit of reviewing all the information extracted from the week is a second to none practice. Its enough to review all your highlights once a week to enable to you to recall information better.
You can also apply the ‘review’ habit of ALL information gathered once in the month. Most of the successful entrepreneurs, scientists, innovators claim to review information now and there, so to have a better understanding and memory of it.
And here you can benefit a lot more. The best practice I find for myself is to store all the highlights in a Word file and then upload them to Google Drive. What’s the advantage of this method? The information will be always accessible to you, whether 1 or 10 years have passed, you can always return to it if you feel a need of refreshing your memory. Everything will be as you last leave it.
3. Create a mind map
Recently a method called “mind map” went viral and everyone started talking about it. However, the method is dates since centuries ago, but the person who first started using the term “mind map” was the British psychology author Tony Buzan. The fame of this method comes from the fact that with a simple drawing a person can portray a book in several sentences.
And the ones who can benefit the most from it are those who have great visual memory skills.
So, how to you use the mind map to retain information? Whenever I finish a book, I extract all the highlights with PdfHighlights, upload them to Google Drive and then I create a mind map. I use an online app called MindMeister.
The website is one of the best on the market. It went on to win awards for best intuitive use. However, after you sign up for a basic account, you’ll be only empowered to create up to 3 free mind maps. If you wish to have more, you need to upgrade to a higher plan.
A good alternative to this application is the offline application called FreeMind. As the name points it, you have the privilege to create as many mind maps as you want at no costs.
4. Make a summary
Another fantastic way to remember information. Whenever you finish a book, write down a summary of what the book is about. Recall the information you’ve highlighted to help you. Then it will be a lot easier to write the summary.
Usually, it takes me around 10 to 20 minutes to write a brief 100-200 word summary of the book I’ve read. After I went through the best moments of the book, I write down what the book is about, what are the lessons I learned and of what use the information can be.
Taking this approach, thoughts will crystallize better and you will recall information spontaneously.
5. Implement the information
Do you know what makes the brain remember the information the most? It’s when it makes mistakes.
Now, reading and listening requires a certain level of concentration. But even if you provide that concentration you’ll eventually remember almost nothing. It because what you read and hear is a far away concept. And it doesn’t matter how clearly the idea is presented, there is no chance to assimilate it if you don’t implement it.
We learn only when we do something from first hand – this means when we make mistakes. So, how do you make mistakes from reading and listening? The information needs to be implemented – whether you’ll talk with others about it, write an article, record an audio file and so on.. will play a big role in remembering.
Interestingly, we don’t retain information when we’re reading, listening or playing a video because we miss the concepts. That’s the reason why if you have ever re-read a piece of information to find that some of the concepts are new for you.
The reason for this is the brain struggles to the first met concept. And in its efforts to apply it will other concepts will be missed.
No wonder why we assume the information to a limited extent – our brain has to make an error from first hand. Making a mistake shows how much you have deviated from the path by trying to “implement” it.
So, next time you pick the book with the attention to remember something, the reading will remain reading. The real studying begins with making mistakes. And mistakes come with implementing. That’s the way you truly learn something.
Tell us in what way this information helped you or what do you find not in right place and needs to be changed?