Have you ever read a book to learn something, but you don’t feel like you really remember what you read? Oh Good! I’m not the only one. Apparently, it’s a common phenomenon.
It’s an important skill to have. It can take quite a bit of time to read a book. It would be a shame not to get the most out of that time.
I ran across several tips on how to get the most out of the books you read with these strategies:
1. Read in an environment conducive to remembering. Ideally, you have options regarding where you read. Some places are better than others. Do you concentrate better in a silent environment? Perhaps you read better with some background noise like classical music or in a coffee shop.
2. Read at the right time. When are you best able to concentrate? In the morning? In the evening? After a workout? After a nap? After a meal? On an empty stomach? Give yourself the best chance to retain what you read by ensuring that you are at your best.
3. Know what you are trying to learn before you begin reading. What is the point of reading the book? What do you wish to gain from reading it? Be clear on the purpose of why you are reading this particular book in the first place. You’ll notice the relevant facts and ideas if you know what matters to you before you begin.
4. Skim the book first. Skim the chapter you are about to read. Understand how long the chapter is and what it’s covering. If there are any bullet points at the beginning or end, slow down and absorb them.
5. Take notes. If you have the option of taking notes directly in the book, that can be effective. At least you’ll know where to find your notes! Many people choose to keep a notebook for each book they read. Write down the important ideas along the way. Include your thoughts, too.
6. Reflect on what you read. After reading a chapter or a certain number of pages, reflect on what you read. Look back over your notes. Think about what you already know on the subject. How does this new information fit in with what you already know? Avoid reading further until you’ve completed this process.
7. Use the information. It doesn’t make much sense to read a book on dieting, investing, or meditating without using the information. Develop a plan for applying what you have read. Take it slowly and just implement one new item every couple of days.
8. Consider reading the book again. It has become popular for people to claim that they read a book a week, or even a book a day. It’s not possible to read a book in a day, retain all the information, put that information into practice, and read another book the following day. It would be far more effective to read a few books, a few times each, over the course of a year if you are reading self-help and trying to make it stick. Try this experiment. Read a book, and then a week later read it again. Notice how you found things in the second reading that you don’t even remember seeing in the first reading. Try this process the next time you read a non-fiction book.
You can perfect these processes to fit your needs and idiosyncrasies. Your time is valuable, and books take time to read. Make the most of your valuable time by retaining more of the information you learn from books.
Enjoy your reading!