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4 Effective Strategies To Remember Everything You Read

4 Effective Strategies To Remember Everything You Read

Have you ever encountered the following scenario:

You: I just read a great book!

Friend: What’s it about?

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You: (paused and tried so hard to recall what you’ve read)

Or have you forced yourself to finish a book in a day or so, because you worried you would forget the previous chapters after a reading hiatus?

When it comes to widening our knowledge base, unfortunately, we usually prioritize quantity over quality. Yes, the more you read, the more information you get, but we tend to forget the things we read after a short period of time. Our inability to retain information from what we have previously read is dauntingly common. We sometimes skim through the passages; or read word by word, letter by letter, without understanding the content; or even scan the book and get to the next — to bombard ourselves with piles of knowledge. But how often does loading and stacking help us retain what we read?

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If we can’t remember anything from the books we read, what’s the point of reading? To make your reading effective and meaningful, here are 4 strategies to help you retain what you read:

1. Generate questions and look for answers

One reading habit we have is to completely immerse ourselves in the text and drill into the details when we read. We think the best way to get the most out of a book is to complete all of the chapters, but we don’t always remember the walls of text upon closing the book. One method to retain our memory is to first go through the table of content (the table of content is here for a reason!) and generate a list of questions, then actively search for answers in the book. When we have a purpose to read a book, it is easier to find and remember what we read.

2. Scribble in the margins while reading

Jotting notes is definitely a great strategy to better knowledge retention. When a certain paragraph stands out to us, we will usually highlight or copy the text, but instead, we should use our own words to summarize key ideas to make a stronger impression. Through this process, you are teaching and explaining to yourself on the points. If you are able to give an outline of the passage without hesitating, you can ensure you have really comprehended and digested the content.

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    3. Research on points that you don’t understand

    When you try to rewrite the summary with your own words, you may encounter points that you find ambiguous or vague. Take the extra 10 minutes to research deeper to get a fuller understanding. This doesn’t mean to throw yourself in at the deep end. Taking the extra step to research can help you understand the subject matter with more details, because most authors assume their readers have some sort of background knowledge of the topics prior to reading the books. For example, for a philosophical book, the writer automatically assumes the readers have a certain level of knowledge on different ideologies in the era that the book is written.

    4. Apply the knowledge to your real life

    As mentioned above, jotting notes leads to a better retention of information. Many people hold the misconception that the more detailed our notes are, the better we will retain what we have read from a book. While we are so focused on cramping every single bit of a book into our notes, we often forget that we are simply copying paragraphs from the book to our notes. Also, how often do you revisit your notes? Most people’s answer is never. So your hard work in jotting notes have completely gone down the drain.

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    To make your reading and note-taking session more effective, try to incorporate your own life into whatever you are reading. What this means is when you are taking notes, also think about how the knowledge you read could benefit your life and solve real-life problems. When you do this, your notes will become more insightful and useful, helping you remember what you read from the book.

      Reading requires devotion of time and effort

      It may sound unnerving and stressful to spend much more time just to retain what you have read. It could be quite heavy at first, but as you follow the strategies more and more, your efforts will pay off and you will definitely have a better retention after reading each book.

      More by this author

      Frank Yung

      Writer. Storyteller. Foodie.

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      Last Updated on January 25, 2021

      What Should I Do Today? 30 New Things To Do Today

      What Should I Do Today? 30 New Things To Do Today

      It’s always fun to do something new, but often we fall into the trap of spending our weekends the same way.

      If you’re stuck in the same old routine, it might be time to try something new.

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      What should I do today? No ideas?

      Everything listed here is something you can easily do no matter where you live, and even on a tight budget! Try out one of these 30 new things today, you’ll be happy you did.

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      Try Out These 30 New Things To Do Today

      1. Visit a suburb in your city that you’ve never been to before, or somewhere you haven’t explored much.
      2. Learn ten phrases in a new language–what about Japanese, Italian or Portuguese?
      3. Listen to a genre of music you haven’t tried before–perhaps Jazz, Punk or Blues?
      4. Have a picnic in your local park complete with a packed lunch and your animal friends.
      5. Start a daily journal to write your thoughts in.
      6. Try a new cuisine–what about French, Lebanese or Korean?
      7. Visit your local library and borrow some books for the weekend.
      8. Plant some flowers in your garden. If you don’t have one, try an indoor potted plant.
      9. Visit a local museum or art gallery and view their latest exhibition.
      10. Learn a new skill–what about sewing, gardening or cooking? You’ll be surprised what you can learn in an afternoon.
      11. Say hello to a neighbor you don’t usually talk to.
      12. Make a card for a friend and send it to them with a handwritten note.
      13. Learn how to cook a new dish for dinner. We all get tired of eating the same thing, why not try making something new?
      14. Re-read an old favorite book. Don’t leave it gathering dust on your book shelf; get it out and read it all over again.
      15. Research the culture of a different country online–what about India, Guatemala or Sweden?
      16. Go for a walk or bicycle ride around your neighborhood.
      17. Watch a classic film like Casablanca, The Godfather or The Wizard of Oz.
      18. Make a photo album of a recent holiday you took. Don’t let your memories get lost on your computer hard drive; make a special keepsake album of your trip.
      19. Visit your local farmers markets and pick out some fresh produce. Farmers markets are full of delicious fresh fruit, veggies and more. Find your local market and take a visit.
      20. Plan a day trip to somewhere outside your city–it might be the seaside, mountains or another city!
      21. Check out what community events are running in your area and attend one.
      22. Make a birthday present for a friend. Handmade gifts are personal and much more special than anything you could buy from a store.
      23. Attend a play at your local theater. Support your local theater and have a fun night out at the same time.
      24. Volunteer with your local nature conservation society to plant some trees. Conservation societies are always looking for helping hands; do your bit and plant some trees.
      25. Be a tourist in your own city and visit all the popular tourist sites you’ve likely never been to (don’t forget your camera!)
      26. Call a friend you haven’t spoken to recently and have a good long chat.
      27. Put on your favorite song and dance your heart out. You might be surprised at how much fun you have!
      28. Invite some friends over for a BBQ. There’s nothing better than an afternoon spent with good friends and good food.
      29. Try out a new form of exercise like Pilates, tennis or swimming.
      30. Organize a clothing swap with your friends. You’ll have a great time, and save some cash and the environment all at the same time!

      Now that you’ve read my list of 30 new things to try today, my question for you is, “what new things will you try today?”

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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