If you’ve been looking for the best guide on how to remember what you read, I’ve got good news for you.
I’ll admit, Memory was one of my favorite courses in Psychology class back at college. And I’ll be sharing some of the best techniques I learned with you pretty soon.
Before we dive in, I’d encourage you to never think you’re alone on this.
Nothing can be more frustrating than burning the midnight oil, only to come to it the next day to realize nothing stuck.
Whether you’re a student, training facilitator or a preacher, this can be one heck of a demotivator.
The thing is, it’s not only the amount of material that matters.
In fact, simple stuffs like names and terminologies can equally be lost when we least expect them to.
We’ll spend quite a bit of time exploring the best tips on how to remember what you read that you can apply right away.
Pull up your sleeve and let’s get going…
Understanding the material
If you thought this is a common knowledge, you probably have no idea how many people skip this step. People tend to consume much of the material without NECESSARILY understanding the concept or reasoning behind what they read.
- They’re quick to mention the number of pages covered
- The length of time they’ve spent studying
They derive a false sense of satisfaction by doing this.
Sounds familiar, right?
If this is you, I’ll be blunt – stop wasting your precious time.
…you want to be double sure you completely understand what you’ve learned. This makes memorization and recall way easier.
Well, this post is to help you remember what you learn, not necessarily how to learn.
But these two tips should test your sincerity:
If you can do away with the material and still be able to recall it, that’s a good sign.
Explaining it to someone else
As they say, if you can explain something to the understanding of your grandmother, that’s a mark of good understanding.
Practice the material
Understanding the material as described above isn’t enough. It won’t guarantee your ability to remember it.
Different strategies can be used for different materials.
Say you’re learning a song, you may want to repeat it a number of times for it to sync in. The brain takes time to familiarize with what we learn when it first comes into contact with it. The more you repeat it, the easier it sticks into your memory.
Also, remember to write down what you learn. This is actually backed by numerous studies. By writing things in a book or a sheet of paper, memorization occurs as the brain’s neurons begin to fire.
Applying the pomodoro technique
You should find a way to space your learning process.
Any attempt to consume so much at a go will significantly impede your recall.
I don’t know about you but I do find it extremely helpful whenever I step out for a while and come back to the material. I do this mostly when learning becomes boring or difficult.
This is the essence of the pomodoro technique. Developed by Francesco Cirillo somewhere in the 1980s it requires you to take short breaks after every 25 minutes of learning.
Just get a timer by your side to do this.
Take a short walk, surf the internet, play video game or just do anything that gives you pleasure after each pomodoro.
Note that this technique requires discipline.
You want to immerse yourself into the material, avoiding all forms of obstructions, including phone calls, chats for the next 25 minutes. Take longer breaks – usually 20 to 30 minutes after every four pomodoros.
Whenever I do this, I feel almost as if my brain has been refreshed. It’s able to assimilate information with impressive energy. It’s that powerful.
Using the mind palace technique
Call it the method of loci, memory journey or memory palace, it’s one of the most powerful memory techniques on how to remember things fast and effectively. In fact, I instantly fell in love with this the very day I was introduced to it.
The strategy requires the use of items around you and numbering them to store data. By storing information this way, it becomes extremely easy to recall them.
Familiar items that immediately come to mind include furniture, television, fridge, wardrobe, windows, doors etc that surround you. You’ll assign each of these items with numbers. Then, you’ll store information in them by using visualization.
For instance, you can store the main theme of a paragraph in one item with the assigned number.
Say the chapter is about Abraham Lincoln, you could imagine him sitting on a huge sofa in the room with the accompanying information with an assigned number. As soon as you remember the number, you’ll cast your mind to the sofa and be able to remember the associated information.
Remembering Names and Phone numbers etc
Things like telephone numbers, area code, names of people etc can even be more disappointing if the recall fail.
Check this out…
You see someone you clearly know and try to mention the name but no!
It just won’t come up.
Sometimes, the name surfaces moments when the person is gone.
Well, when it comes to such information, you really need to be deliberate. You need to program it appropriately to enhance recall.
Similar scenarios occur at parties. People call out their names fast, making it difficult to remember.
There’s something called recency and latency effect.
You’re more likely to remember the earlier and last batch of things than those in the middle.
Just be aware of it.
The best way to keep these pieces of information is to process them as soon as they come your way.
Note that our short term memory only stores information for just a few seconds. So, you’ll need to spend a bit of time pondering about (processing) them if you need to keep them.
Thinking about them helps to push the information to the subconscious mind. If this is achieved, it becomes difficult to forget them.
You can also create associations in your mind to process information of this kind. If a name rings a bell, quickly associate it with the particular individual for easy recall.
Does the person’s name sound like your ex’s name? Connect the dots.
The last but certainly not the least tip on how to remember things effectively has to do with chunking.
This is a strategy for memorizing information or learning by breaking the information into chunks (smaller units).
Take time to memorize a piece of the material before adding onto it. A typical example is when we break telephone numbers into fewer digits when trying to commit them into memory.
Chunking can be used for digits and lines of words as well.
See also: How to Manifest Love into Your Life
You just learned how to remember what you read with some of the best ideas available.
I personally use these on daily basis and find them highly helpful. I encourage you to try them and choose your personal favorite.
Like most things, you’ll need to consciously practice and apply them in your learning journey.
When you finally get a hang of it, you’ll significantly improve your learning and performance. You’ll also be able to recall pieces of information more effectively.
Knowing how to remember what you read should no longer be a source of worry. Enjoy!