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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.

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      Frank Yung

      Writer. Storyteller. Foodie.

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      Last Updated on July 8, 2020

      18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

      18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

      The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

      1. Understand Yourself Better

      Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

      Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

      2. Keep Track of Small Changes

      I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

      Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

      3. Become Aware of What Matters

      As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

      You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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      4. Boost Creativity

      The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

      When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

      You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

      5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

      A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

      Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

      6. Process Life Experiences

      When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

      Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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      7. Stress Relief

      In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

      Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

      8. Provide Direction

      Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

      One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

      9. Solve Problems

      Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

      Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

      When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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      10. Find Relief From Fighting

      Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

      Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

      11. Find Meaning in Life

      Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

      12. Allow Yourself to Focus

      Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

      13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

      When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

      14. Let the Past Go

      I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

      15. Allow Freedom

      Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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      16. Enhance Your Career

      Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

      Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

      17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

      All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

      18. Catalog Your Life for Others

      No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

      We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

      Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

      Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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