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How To Actually Remember What You Read

We all know the feeling...you read an entire page and then at the end you find yourself asking, “So what in the world did I just read?”

It’s frustrating, a waste of time, and not to mention, you’re probably missing out on some interesting and important information. Don’t worry, your not the only one, researchers estimate that we lose up to 90% of what we learn immediately after learning it!

Yup, NINETY PERCENT. Are you going to remember that?

So if you’re tired of reading entire chapters, articles or books and then blanking out when you actually want to remember it, just apply these 7 simple tips. 


#1 Make Sure You WANT To Remember

What’s the most fascinating thing you read about your favorite subject lately? 

You probably remember more about that than you do about the last chapter you read in your textbook right…

That’s probably because you were actually MOTIVATED to remember it.

When you're genuinely interested in a subject, you are more likely to remember things because of your passion to learn more knowledge about it.

The more you read about it, the more you realize there is to know, and the insatiable surge goes on. 

On the other hand, if you don’t really care about what you’re reading, you're subconsciously telling your brain you don’t want to remember it. 

Bottom line: try to make yourself genuinely interested in what you’re reading. This might sound easier said than done...but where there’s a will, there’s a way. 


#2 Know Your Purpose

Why am even reading this?

Often we get an information overload while reading, which is one reason why it gets difficult to recall afterward. 

Make sure you know what your purpose is while reading. Keeping this in mind will help you focus on only the relevant information and remembering that better.

Maybe your purpose is:

  • To understand a specific concept or idea
  • To better yourself in a certain area
  • To understand why someone did a certain thing
  • To answer questions of an assigned academic reading

There are a virtually infinite amount of reasons you can be reading something, just be sure you know what yours is. 


#3 Know HOW You learn

There is one major flaw in the educational systems of the world and it’s this: they teach students WHAT to learn, but they fail to teach HOW to learn. 

In effect they're just throwing loads of information at you saying “Hey guys, learn this”

Little do most people know, learning is an active process that involves more than just reading or listening to a lecture.

 

For every important thing you learn take active steps to turn that information into real knowledge you can recall and use in the future. 

Write things down, discuss them with a friend, elaborate on that idea based on your own reactions, connect it to past knowledge and experiences, or ask others for their opinion about the information. 


#4 Concentrate

If you’re trying to read while at the same time checking your Instagram, watching a movie, and texting your friend....chances are you’re not going to remember very much. 

It takes some serious brain power for you to store information and commit it to memory, so whatever you’re reading must have your undivided attention. 

If you truly want to learn something set up a peaceful space, turn off distractions, relax, and remember. 


#5 Study Before Bed and Right After Waking Up

The best time to learn or review something is just before bed and right after you wake up. 

During the day your mind is overloaded with all sorts of constant information and is continually refreshing your short-term memory. 

This makes it easier for you to forget things. Just think, have you ever looked back after a long day and struggled to remember what you did yesterday? 

Yup, its kind of like that. 

Right before sleep and upon waking up your brain is refreshed and it actually secretes certain chemicals that are designed to make your memory more concrete. 


#6 Repetition, Repetition, Repetition, Oh yeah...and Repetition

Ok so you’ve heard that one song you hate playing on the radio everyday for like a week straight now...next thing you know, you unconsciously catch yourself singing along and you even know the lyrics! 

How? You never sat there trying to memorize the words…you probably don’t even WANT to know the words. 

That’s the power of repetition.

Find an efficient way to repeatedly go over what you read. If you don’t want to read a book or chapter 20 times then highlight the few parts you want to remember and re-read those. 


#7 Reflect On What You’ve Learned

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At the end of the day spend 15 minute reflecting on what you learned.

If you followed the rest of these tricks you’ll be surprised at how much you remember and this will boost your confidence in your ability to recall. 

This enhances the whole process and you’ll put more effort into getting up the next day and doing it again. 


Ok, so without scrolling up do you remember the first tip? The second? Maybe you do, but my guess is you already forgot. Scrolling back up to reread is easy enough right now but you won’t always have that luxury. 

Apply these tricks, turn them into habits, and the only thing you’ll forget is how it feels to forget. 

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