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How to Remember More of What You Read

How to Remember More of What You Read

While the world today is over-saturated with media in the form of television, movies, handheld devices, and the internet books remain one of the best ways to learn about new things or improve your knowledge on subjects you might already be familiar with. It’s for this reason that advertising reps still read books about advertising every day, and you better believe Richard Dawkins (world renown biologist) is still reading books on biology in spite of being one of the most famous scientists in his field.

That said, how many times have you sat down with a book on a subject you were eager to learn about only to put the it down 1000 pages later, feeling like you were no more knowledgeable than you were when you started? It can be easy to read a book without retaining any of the knowledge held inside of it, but this post will teach you how to remember more of what you read, and hopefully make you one of those special people that can read a book and actually comprehend and remember what the author was trying to teach you.

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1. Skim the Text

Like most people, you probably tackle a new book by cracking it open, starting at sentence one, and making your way through the text like an explorer chopping his way through the jungle with a machete until you reach the end. Instead of going through this long process, it’s easier—and more effective—to map your route by skimming the text first. Many books have the main points described at the end of each chapter, so take a look at them and try to figure out what each one will teach you. Rather than journeying into the perilous unknown, familiarize yourself with the territory. Prime your brain for what’s to come by skimming the text first and the journey will be easier for you.

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2. Define Your Reason for Reading

If you picked up a copy of a book about famous art forgers, it’s a good bet you had a reason to do so. Whether you have to write a report about art forgery, you’re interested in the individuals who would commit such a crime, or you’re looking to get into the business yourself you probably had a reason for choosing to read that book. If you consciously acknowledge this reason, write it down, or say it aloud; then you’ll be able to define the direction you’re going in and this will guide your reading efforts. This direction will let your brain know what’s important and what it can ignore, and you’ll retain more of what matters from your reading.

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3. Immerse Yourself in What You’re Reading

How many times have you found yourself sitting in your room with a cup of tea or coffee and a good book for an hour only to realize your eyes have been moving across the page without your brain processing what you were reading? This is because you weren’t immersed in the book in your lap. Immersion is key to retaining what you’re reading. Rather than just reading what it takes to make a good presentation, put yourself in the conference room. Imagine yourself using the keys to engage your audience and explaining your bullet points. If you make the book your reality then you’ll be able to remember it more easily when the time to implement what you’ve learned comes.

Practice the Three Keys

If you skimmed this article before you read it, asked what you wanted to get out of it, and really pictured yourself implementing the strategies above then there’s a good bet your next reading session will be incredibly profitable. There is one last aspect of remembering more of what you read, however: practice until it becomes second nature. Just like a professional quarterback has to practice his throws endlessly, a great reader has to practice his reading technique. Regular practice makes an action second nature, and practicing effective reading will make remembering more of what you read a breeze.

Enter each reading session consciously aware that you will practice the steps outlined in this article and you’ll retain more than you can imagine.

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

What is decision fatigue? Let me explain this with an example:

When determining a court ruling, there are many factors that contribute to their final verdict. You probably assume that the judge’s decision is influenced solely by the nature of the crime committed or the particular laws that were broken. While this is completely valid, there is an even greater influential factor that dictates the judge’s decision: the time of day.

In 2012, a research team from Columbia University[1] examined 1,112 court rulings set in place by a Parole Board Judge over a 10 month period. The judge would have to determine whether the individuals in question would be released from prison on parole, or a change in the parole terms.

While the facts of the case often take precedence in decision making, the judges mental state had an alarming influence on their verdict.

As the day goes on, the chance of a favorable ruling drops:

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    Image source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

    Does the time of day, or the judges level of hunger really contribute that greatly to their decision making? Yes, it does.

    The research went on to show that at the start of the day the likelihood of the judging giving out a favorable ruling was somewhere around 65%.

    But as the morning dragged on, the judge became fatigued and drained from making decision after decision. As more time went on, the odds of receiving a favorable ruling decreased steadily until it was whittled down to zero.

    However, right after their lunch break, the judge would return to the courtroom feeling refreshed and recharged. Energized by their second wind, their leniency skyrockets back up to a whopping 65%. And again, as the day drags on to its finish, the favorable rulings slowly diminish along with the judge’s spirits.

    This is no coincidence. According to the carefully recorded research, this was true for all 1,112 cases. The severity of the crime didn’t matter. Whether it was rape, murder, theft, or embezzlement, the criminal was more likely to get a favorable ruling either early in the morning, or after the judges lunch break.

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    Are You Suffering from Decision Fatigue Too?

    We all suffer from decision fatigue without even realizing it.

    Perhaps you aren’t a judge with the fate of an individual’s life at your disposal, but the daily decisions you make for yourself could hinder you if you’re not in the right head-space.

    Regardless of how energetic you feel (as I imagine it is somehow caffeine induced anyway), you will still experience decision fatigue. Just like every other muscle, your brain gets tired after periods of overuse, pumping out one decision after the next. It needs a chance to rest in order to function at a productive rate.

    The Detrimental Consequences of Decision Fatigue

    When you are in a position such as a Judge, you can’t afford to let your mental state dictate your decision making; but it still does. According to George Lowenstein, an American educator and economy expert, decision fatigue is to blame for poor decision making among members of high office. The disastrous level of failure among these individuals to control their impulses could be directly related to their day to day stresses at work and their private life.

    When you’re just too tired to think, you stop caring. And once you get careless, that’s when you need to worry. Decision fatigue can contribute to a number of issues such as impulse shopping (guilty), poor decision making at work, and poor decision making with after work relationships. You know what I’m talking about. Don’t dip your pen in the company ink.

    How to Make Decision Effectively

    Either alter the time of decision making to when your mind is the most fresh, or limit the number of decisions to be made. Try utilizing the following hacks for more effective decision making.

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    1. Make Your Most Important Decisions within the First 3 Hours

    You want to make decisions at your peak performance, so either first thing in the morning, or right after a break.

    Research has actually shown that you are the most productive for the first 3 hours[2] of your day. Utilize this time! Don’t waste it on trivial decisions such as what to wear, or mindlessly scrolling through social media.

    Instead, use this time to tweak your game plan. What do you want to accomplish? What can you improve? What steps do you need to take to reach these goals?

    2. Form Habits to Reduce Decision Making

    You don’t have to choose all the time.

    Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it doesn’t have to be an extravagant spread every morning. Make a habit out of eating a similar or quick breakfast, and cut that step of your morning out of the way. Can’t decide what to wear? Pick the first thing that catches your eye. We both know that after 20 minutes of changing outfits you’ll just go with the first thing anyway.

    Powerful individuals such as Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and Mark Zuckerberg don’t waste their precious time deciding what to wear. In fact, they have been known to limiting their outfits down to two options in order to reduce their daily decision making.

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    3. Take Frequent Breaks for a Clearer Mind

    You are at your peak of productivity after a break, so to reap the benefits, you need to take lots of breaks! I know, what a sacrifice. If judges make better decisions in the morning and after their lunch break, then so will you.

    The reason for this is because the belly is now full, and the hunger is gone. Roy Baumeister, Florida State University social psychologist[3] had found that low-glucose levels take a negative toll on decision making. By taking a break to replenish your glucose levels, you will be able to focus better and improve your decision making abilities.

    Even if you aren’t hungry, little breaks are still necessary to let your mind refresh, and come back being able to think more clearly.

    Structure your break times. Decide beforehand when you will take breaks, and eat energy sustaining snacks so that your energy level doesn’t drop too low. The time you “lose” during your breaks will be made up in the end, as your productivity will increase after each break.

    So instead of slogging through your day, letting your mind deteriorate and fall victim to the daily abuses of decision making, take a break, eat a snack. Let your mind refresh and reset, and jump-start your productivity throughout the day.

    More Tips About Decision Making

    Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

    Reference

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