Reading is a fun process in which you can always seek for pleasure and enjoyment. When it comes to reading to educate yourself, however, you need to recall what you’ve read. Granted, it’s hard to retain information.
First things first. Let me ask you 2 questions:
- Do you often find yourself foggy when reading?
- Have you ever read the same line of words over and over but still didn’t get the meaning?
I know the answers all too well. Periodically, I encountered this terrible experience: reading through an entire chapter of a book without understanding the essence of the chapter.
Fortunately, I’ve found 4 simple tips that help me retain information when reading. The tips can benefit you as well. So keep on reading!
Pay Adequate Attention
Adequate attention is what you need the most if you want to remember what you’re reading.
What is your best time of day for reading? It’s wise to read when you’re fully alert so you can pay adequate attention to reading.
Before reading, you have to prepare your mindset by saying these out loud:
- I’m focused, and I can concentrate on reading for a long time
- I’ll immerse myself in the world created by the book
Trust me, this tip works like a charm.
Strip Away Distractions
As you already knew, the human brain tends to work less efficiently when it has to retrieve too many information at the same time.
A noisy environment is most likely the leading cause of your inefficiency in reading. You might hear some people claim their ability to read in chaotic surroundings. No doubt that they can read in such condition, but it would take them more effort to keep new information in mind.
You’ll want to read in a quiet place where there is no distraction. It’s best to stay away from your smartphone, your tablet, and the TV.
Take Solid Notes
Note-taking is a good habit that makes you a better learner. Regardless of genre—fiction or non-fiction—you can always take notes when reading. By taking notes, you record the core of the information that helps you recall the big picture later on.
Study after study shows that when writing in longhand, the touch and feel of pen or pencil moving on paper increase the capacity for obtaining new information. Hence, it’s good to have a pen and a notepad by your side when reading.
Rest assured that taking notes won’t interrupt your reading flow. Besides taking notes, you can also highlight phrases that resonate with you well.
Read in Bursts
Nowadays people seem to have a short attention span. How long is your attention span? Mine is about 30 minutes. The 30-minute attention span indicates that I can be focused and thus remember well in a time frame of 30 minutes. After that, I easily become distracted and want to do something else.
Just recently I’ve applied the Pomodoro Technique to reading; I’ve started to read in bursts. The result is quite great: I’ve read more books and retained most of the information.
Here is how I read in bursts: Initially, I set a 25-minute timer then I’ll read non-stop until the timer alarms. I’ll take a 5-minute break in which I can do something physically, e.g. walking around the house or doing some stretches. Physical activities reset my attention span. As a result, I can wholeheartedly concentrate on reading for another 25 minutes.
Don’t stop reading just because of your getting frustrated when you couldn’t retain information. Now you have 4 simple tips that solve the problem: pay adequate attention, strip away distractions, take strong notes, and read in bursts. One tip may work well with another, and together they help you become a better reader. Just try them out!
After all, keep this in mind: It’s a privilege to read and to be an avid reader.
Do you have any tip that helps retain information when reading? Please share in the comments!