readingIt’s a familiar problem. You read a page or two and then go back to where you started and draw a complete blank at what you’ve just read. So like a toxic relationship, you start again only to reach the bottom of the page and completely forget what you’ve just read.

The cycle continues until you hate reading and reduce yourself to click-bait articles to form entire opinions. So here are some tips on how to retain information when reading. Firstly, let’s start with a common misconception.

Highlighting text doesn’t mean you’ll remember it.

It might be a something learned at school but no evidence exists that highlighting text while reading will improve recollection of what you’ve read. Yes some studies have shown it helps from a reference perspective but given most text in a book is important, you can’t highlight the whole page. So how can you retain information from reading?

Implement what you read

If you reflect on your current job and previous work experience, none of it comes from a single source. Rather, it comes from a collection of experiences and sources (both positive and negative) over time and you synthesise this information to use it to your benefit. Same thing when it comes to remembering what we read - take the information and apply it scenarios that are relevant for you. Doing this helps you to become a more active and critical reader which will allow you to contextualise and process information that you’re consuming.

*An easy question to challenge yourself while is what is the lesson that I’m learning and how does this apply to my life?*

If you read every nutrition book but don’t do anything to improve your nutrition, then you’re not leveraging any of that information. Given our worlds are filled with screens and devices that deliver rich pieces of information, your brain will end up discarding it. So it keep it in the brain in some capacity, another way to remember what you’re reading is to talk to others.

Talk to people about what you’ve read

Sometimes implementing what you’ve read isn’t feasible. For example, getting in touch with your cultural roots and trying to fly overseas during the pandemic. Exchanging ideas and context with others is a great way to explore topics and open opportunities to see the same information in different lenses. Going deeper into this, from an evolutionary perspective, humans have been reading and writing for 5000 years. We’ve been speaking (or communicating) for over 150,000 years. The magic of discussing or talanoa with people cannot be understated and if that can’t be done in person, using the digital tools is your next best thing.

Leveraging digital tools to scale what you’ve read

Twitter spaces, IG live, Clubhouse even a zoom call with friends leaves no excuses to get talking to people to start expanding on ideas and remembering what you’ve read. What makes these digital tools special is that they can be leveraged to connect with audiences and experts in certain fields to get feedback.

All these techniques are designed to assist you to become more active and critical when it comes to reading information. Implementing what you’ve read is a key ingredient to answering how to remember more of what you read. Failing that, having discussions with people can assist and failing that, you can leverage the internet to connect you with other like minded people. The brain is clever enough connect ideas and concepts to generate new areas of discovery and meaning for you.

Happy reading

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