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How to remember more of what you read - 16 April 2019

How to remember more of what you read


We live in the age of information overload! Constant connectivity at home, at work, on our travels through smartphones, tablets and laptops. Then there's magazines, reports, newspapers adding to the information flow. In many ways, we are reading more than ever, constantly receiving new ideas.

Perhaps it's not surprising to find that we're retaining less than we did in the past. That said, maybe there are things you need to remember or pages of the latest novel you're reading you're prefer not to have to re-read.

How can you best make the sales figures, or the presentation you've prepared, stay with you? Whatever the reason, keeping the information in your head is an essential skill.

Try these for size.....

1. Reflect on what you've have read

When you have finished reading, don't simply move your mind on to the next task, take time to consider what you have just read. This doesn't mean taking an hour of deep contemplation but just enough time to identify the main points and consider there meaning.

This is backed up by science. In a 2014 research study, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Texas at Austin, Allison Preston, explained that "We think replaying memories during rest makes those earlier memories stronger, not just impacting the original content, but impacting memories to come."

The study also found that this approach will help you embed the new information into your existing knowledge base.

To put this into practice you might find that making some notes on the main points (not everything, just the most relevant pieces of information) will help you drill down what it is you have taken from the reading session.

You might think you are too "time-poor" to take this extra time but, in general, it will save you more time as you draw upon the information you need quicker and more effectively.

2. Read aloud more

The human brain processes things better when the senses are engaged in tandem. Engaging audio and visual information at the same time will increase the chances to remember what you are reading.

3. Read with purpose

Have a clear purpose behind what you are reading. Why are you reading what you are reading – what's the point, or goal? Is there a certain type of information you need to take away, is it simple to relax and focus your mind on something else. This can help you to be more motivated and engaged with the content you are reading.

4. Block out distractions

We live in an age of distractions. Smartphone notifications buzzing, background noise, 24-hour television! Cut them all out when you choose to read. Pick a quiet and distraction-free place at a time when it is easy to be undisturbed.

5. Read when you are relaxed

Reading when tired has a negative effect on memory and focus. Reading when you are rested and relaxed massively increases the effectiveness of how you engage and remember the information you are reading. If you need to read an important work report it is, often, worth reading it later on away from the hustle and stress of the work environment. Read when you feel you are in the best frame of mind to take the most out of the activity.

6. Read hard copies

So much reading we do today is done via a screen. It has been found that it is harder to recall information read online or on a screen. Online it has been suggested that the constant flow of new information and the ability to flit between different subjects distracts from the process of reading. There are also other possible factors such as the glow of the screen and the loss of tactile information, like touching and turning a page, that might contribute to the loss of information when reading via technology.

In short, choosing when and where you read and taking time to reflect on the material will help you to remember more of what you read and give you the mental tools to put that knowledge into practice at the right time.

 

 

 

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