February 08, 2023

How to remember more of what you read

Struggling to remember what you read? You're not alone.

As an entrepreneur, our attention is already spread pretty thin. Not to mention, our short-term memory is incredibly finicky. Sometimes the key points of an article or book chapter can quickly slip away. Fortunately, there are techniques that we all can use to dramatically improve our recall abilities.

In this article, I'll discuss strategies and tools for enhancing your mental muscle so that every exciting detail stays fresh in your mind — no matter how long or complex it may have been.

The importance of active reading

Memory retention improves when you engage actively with the material. This means more than just quickly scanning the content; it requires diving deeper and interacting through reflection to comprehend what is being read.

To ensure success, here are some key elements I've used that constitute active reading:

  • Underlining or highlighting key points
  • Annotating the margins with questions or comments
  • Summarizing the material in your own words
  • Asking yourself questions about the information you are reading
  • Connecting the material to your prior knowledge or experiences

By actively engaging with the material, you are forcing your brain to process the information on a deeper level, which will help you remember it more effectively.

The power of visualization

Visualization is one of my favorite methods to retain what I read. It's an incredibly effective technique for boosting memory recall.

By picturing the information before processing it, you can dramatically enhance your retention and understanding of what's being read.

To use this strategy to its fullest, try any (or all) of these tips:

  • Create a mental image of fundamental concepts or ideas
  • Visualize how different pieces of information fit together
  • Use visual aids such as mind maps or diagrams to help you see the big picture
  • Imagine using the information in real-life scenarios

Visualization is especially effective for retaining complex information or remembering sequences or processes.

Spaced repetition

The benefits of spaced repetition

If you want to ensure knowledge sticks, implement a spaced repetition strategy. This involves taking the time and energy needed for intense reading sessions, only distributed throughout multiple intervals — ensuring your brain retains information far into the future!

To help kick-start your spaced repetition practice, here are some tried-and-true tips:

  • Review the material at regular intervals (e.g., every day, every other day, once a week, etc.)
  • Start by reviewing the material soon after you read it, then gradually increase the interval between review sessions
  • Mix up your review sessions with active recall activities (e.g., quizzes, flashcards, writing summaries)

Spaced repetition is particularly effective for retaining difficult information, such as vocabulary words, formulas, or historical dates.

A proven method for remembering everything you read

The following method combines all of the strategies outlined above into a comprehensive system for remembering everything you read:

  1. Read the material actively, engaging with the information and actively processing it
  2. Create mental images or visual aids to help you understand and retain the information
  3. Review the material at regular intervals using spaced repetition and active recall activities

By incorporating these strategies into your reading and learning routine, you can effectively enhance your memory and recall abilities and remember everything you read.