5 Tricks to Retain Everything You Read
Reading is an incredible habit to form and to cultivate. Not only it keeps your brain healthy but it is one habit that successful people from all walks of life have in common. Reading exercises our brain and broadens our knowledge – but only if we are able to retain the things that we read. Yet that is where most of our reading practices falter.
With everyday responsibilities and stresses, our attention span gets stretched very thin these days. Even when we include reading as part of our daily or weekly routine, it becomes almost impossible to devote a lot of time to it, or re-read things again and again for better retention.
In this article, we provide you some ways you can take full advantage of the limited time you get to read, and make the most of your reading at every go.
Skim the text before you read in full
Unless you are reading a mystery novel, skimming the text before you start reading from start to finish is a great way to prepare your brain for the amount of information it is about to take in. This creates a framework of information in your mind, and then when you read the text in full you are able to fill the framework with more information. It creates a hierarchy of information in your brain and makes it much more easier to recall. While skimming, take note of paragraphs, sub-sections, chapters, and bold/italic formatting. This will give you an idea on what is important about the text.
Involve multiple senses – like hearing and touch
We gather information through all our senses, and each sense processes the information in a separate area of the brain. When you employ more than one sense in reading a text, the information gets processed more than one time and in more than one areas of your brain, strengthening its place in your mind. There are many ways you can involve this multi-sensory approach:
- Read aloud. It allows you to articulate the information and also hear it – involving two processes.
- If you need to read quietly (like in public or in a library), you can plug-in to an audiobook of the text you are reading, if available. It ensures that the information is getting processed simultaneously in at least two brain areas.
- Reading a physical book helps better in retention than e-books, according to some studies. The tactile sensation of holding a book and feeling its weight is linked to better attention and recall.
Take notes and make comments
Always make sure to note down any thoughts you have during reading a particular section. Underline, scribble notes and questions on the margins, copy out specific sections in a separate notepad. Articulating the thoughts while reading helps you document the information processing that goes on in your brain at that time. It also creates an impression of the most important bits in your mind, and records cues for further reading and questions that you may have on the text.
Summarize each chapter/section
Break down the reading process in chapters/sections. After you finish reading a section, write a summary of it or at least outline the main takeaways in bullet points. This gives your memory an added boost and cue about what to retain.
Explain it to someone else
Ask any academic and they’ll tell you, one of the best ways to remember a topic is to teach is to someone else. A lot of information we gather don’t get instantly processed. When we explain the topic to someone else, our brain is forced to process these in order to articulate them. The information you process this way is hard to delete from your brain. If you can’t find a willing listener, explain it out loud to your phone recorder.
It is virtually impossible to remember every single word you read – that will come at the cost of comprehension. So when you are reading with a view to make use of the information, it is a far better idea to stress on better comprehension. We hope these tips with help you with it!