You’ve read the latest hot seller from a famous novelist, and you’re eager to make your friend jealous by dropping hints about what’s in it. But when you both are at your favorite coffee shop, the worst happens! You can’t remember what you read! Or, there’s a really important exam that you have to clear to move on to the next level, but you’re worried you won’t be able to remember all that you’ve studied. Sound familiar? These scenarios do to more people than you think!
It’s not always easy remembering what you’ve read. It’s like holding on to a dream; you have a feeling that what you’d dreamt was really scary or hilarious, but they slowly slip out of your mind’s grasp anyway.
Unluckily, there aren’t really proven techniques to retain fabulous dreams. Luckily, here are a few ways you can remember all that you read.
Build a Mind Palace
Also known as the “Method of Loci,” this technique is highly recommended even by experts, even those as old as Sherlock Holmes! Here are its key points:
1. Don’t Memorize what you Read – Yes, you read that right! We often push our minds too hard to retain things when, in fact, our grey cells find other recall tools more attractive. It has been proven that highlighting or underlining the key sections of what you read are more effective than memorizing the whole lot.
2. Jot Notes – When you make notes, you actually force your mind to understand what you’re reading before putting it down on paper. And when your mind’s applied, you already increase the chances of remembering what you’ve read because you understand the concept. Concepts, ideas, or perception are always easier to remember actual words.
3. Identify 5 pieces of furniture in every room – Go to the rooms you are most familiar with, which would mostly be the rooms in your home, your school/college, or office. Next, identify 5 of the rooms you frequent the most and retain their maps in your mind. For example, in your classroom, remember – podium, teacher’s table, chalkboard, projector, window, and your desk.
4. Attach pictures to things – Attach an image to things that you read and what to remember. For example, if you’re reading a book on creating websites, then you can compare the website to your home, the first window like the window you first see when you wake up, the contact us section to your telephone, the algorithm to keep a track of the website footfall like your shoe rack, etc.
5. Assign Images to Room Objects – With each object representing something you’ve read, it’s time to collate those objects in your top 5 rooms. So, it would be something like this – Contact Us segment -; Telephone -; Hall, Home Page –; Big Window –; Hall, Daily Feeds/Articles -; Ceiling Fan -; Hall, Photos -; Family Photo Frames -; Hall.
6. Create Data Segments – It’s easier to break down a large task into smaller pieces. With each piece getting completed, your satisfaction and confidence grow. Similarly, break down the book’s chapters into the rooms in your mind palace. For example, the introductory chapters would be the living room or office foyer, the core chapters could be your bedroom or kitchen, and the concluding chapters like your veranda, balcony, or washing room. With each object in each room representing something, you will find it easier to remember what you’ve read because those objects, right before your eyes, will remind you of them.
7. Pictures for Months – Dates are usually tricky things to remember, especially for those tedious History & Civics exams. An easy way to recall which month an important event took place would be to assign a picture to the months. For example, if an event occurred in December, then think of Christmas, or exams for events that happened in April.
Apart from the ‘Mind Palace’ technique, here are a few other basic methods if you don’t want to remember things you’ve read from an academic perspective, but because you want to use the information in the book or article for something more important or to make a difference to your life.
1. Read important sections out loud. Like jotting down notes, your mind’s put to use to hear what you’re reading out loud, which further helps to remember things.
2. Try to read books, magazines, or newspapers – the hard copies of data, rather than sticking to just e-books or screenshots of pages of books or papers.
3. The mind tends to retain read things better when it is rested. If you’re under a lot of pressure, have too many to-do things in mind or emotionally occupied with something else, then it’s best to stop reading. Resume reading when you’ve cleared your mind of all other clutter and it is calm and rested.
4. Go distraction-free. When you are able to isolate yourself and read, your complete focus is on the written material, and you can, therefore, remember things better.
5. Reflect on what you’ve read. It may just take a few minutes but try and analyse what you’ve read and see how it makes a difference to you. Think about what your objective was of reading a particular piece, and whether it was met, and how it made a difference. Things that impact you directly will certainly make you remember them better.
So, use these tips and get cracking with minding what you read better!