Reading is a significant part of our daily lives. Whether you are reading a report, article, textbook, self-help book, novel, newspaper, blog post, captions on a video or image; you are constantly taking in information in the form of text. With our brain continually absorbing so much content, how can we retain and recall the necessary information we need?
In today’s post I will be sharing several tips that can help you remember what you read. You will learn what to do before reading, during reading and after reading to increase your retention and recall of information.
- Create your best reading environment. Do you prefer to sit on your couch or at your desk? Do you like low light or natural light? Do you prefer silence or background noise? Do you prefer soft-copy or hardcopy? Get to know your preferences and create an environment to help you learn.
- Eliminate any distractions. It is crucial to reduce as many distractions as possible from around you so that you can focus on the text in front of you. Turn off unnecessary devices such as phone, computer, TV and radio, unless you are reading from your phone or computer. If silence is a distraction for you, play instrumental music, songs in a different language or ambient sounds. You can check out Coffitivity for a range of ambient cafe sounds.
- Make sure you are well-rested. Reading when you are tired is not a great idea. You are more likely to fall asleep, lose focus and misunderstand the information.
- Ensure that you are neither hungry nor too full. Hunger can be very distracting and leave you too irritable to focus while being too full can leave you restless and uncomfortable. Both states are not conducive to learning.
- Prepare your mind. Relax your mind and stop thinking about everything else you need to do. Focus on the now. Get into the zone. Try brain dumping all the stuff in your mind so that you can concentrate on the task at hand.
- Prime your brain. Prepare your brain to absorb new information. Read or listen to a summary of the text, scan through the table of contents so you know what to expect or skim-read to get the gist.
- Ask yourself: Why you are reading this text? Reminding yourself of the reason/s behind this task can help you get focused and pay attention more readily.
- Highlight. Read the entire paragraph before going in to highlight the important information.
- Take notes. Do this after every section so that you remember the main ideas.
- Summarise. After completing a chapter, summarise the contents in your own words.
- Read aloud. This can help you understand what you are reading. The more senses you connect, the deeper the retention.
- Create visuals. This is another way to connect your senses. Use drawings to capture the information.
- Stop absorbing. Do not read anything else after you have finished. Go for a walk, practice yoga or take a nap. Give your brain time to absorb the information before moving on to something else.
- Apply the knowledge. This is especially useful for text meant to teach you something. Implementing the information into your life is a great way to integrate knowledge. You are more likely to remember something that you do.
- Find other resources. After reading the complete text find other resources that can help you cement the information. Listen to a podcast, read another book on the same concept or watch a video or documentary. This will immerse you in the topic and help you gain different perspectives. Additionally, you are exploring various learning styles through the use of different formats. At least one of these will stick with you.
Bonus tips: It is important to enjoy what you read, be aware of the practical uses the information can have in your life and when to apply them. Meeting these conditions will help you get more out of your reading experience. I know I do not want to waste time reading something that has no use or entertainment value in my life.
Thank you for reading this post. Kindly like if you enjoyed this content and leave a comment with your feedback.
Love generously, Inspire daily, Learn constantly.