How to Retain What You Read

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As much as you love to read, you’ve probably noticed there are times when you just don’t retain everything you read. Why does this happen? You will be happy to know that you are not alone; it happens to most of us at one time or another. But there are things that you can do to ensure that you can retain the information you read.

Take a look at these tips that are proven to help anyone retain everything they read.

How to Retain What You Read

Read When You are the Most Alert

Some of us are most alert in the mornings, while others may be in the afternoon or the evening. When you are most alert, your mind will be much better focused. Some people will tell you that everyone is the most alert in the morning. However, this actually is not the case for all.

While many people are morning people, just as many of us are not, we have trouble retaining any information until we’ve had at least two cups of coffee.

Stick to the Topic 

We all hear how great multi-tasking is, but when you come down to it, if you are trying to focus on too many things, you cannot completely focus on anything. So, try to stick to one topic at a time. Reading about many different topics at once will limit your ability to retain everything that you read.

Get Rid of Distractions

Most of the time, it can be tough to find quiet time to read. There will always be distractions that will keep you from giving a book your undivided attention. The trick is to eliminate as many of those distractions as possible.

Turn off your phone, so you won’t be distracted by calls and notifications. Designate a quiet space in your house for reading. Do chores before reading, so you aren’t thinking about everything that needs to be done. Read while the kids are in school or sleeping.

You may not eliminate all distractions, but you can get rid of enough to allow your brain to take in what you are reading.

Take a Break

If you find yourself reading the same lines over and over again, it is time to put down the book and take a short break from reading. Do something else that will allow you to focus your mind elsewhere, and then after a few minutes, go back to reading the book.

You will find that you can focus more on what you are reading, and you will have a better chance of retaining everything you read.

Review What You Have Read

Instead of trying to absorb an entire book at once, take several short pauses while reading to reflect on what you have already read. This will allow your brain to really absorb the material, so you can retain it. We all know that it can be difficult to put down a really good book, but if you want to remember everything in the book, it may be just what you need to do.

How to Retain What You Read

Take Notes

Reading and writing use two different parts of your brain, so if you take notes about what you are reading, you will double your chances of retaining all of it. Basically, by writing it down, you are covering the material again, and we all know that the more you cover any material, the easier it will be to remember it.

Another option is to read out loud. This is great for those who are auditory learners.

Find Ways to Make it Interesting

There will be times when you have to read something that just isn’t all that interesting, at least to you, and because you are not interested, you will likely not retain what you read. For instance, if you are reading something that you find particularly boring, figure out how to use the information to help with your career, everyday life, relationships, etc.

When you can relate to the information you are reading, you will retain more of that information.

Write Book/Article Reviews

Not everyone likes to take notes while they are reading. If this sounds like you, there’s another option. After reading a book, write a short review about it. You can publish your reviews on many websites, including Goodreads, if you think your review would be of interest to others.

You may even find plenty of reviews of other books that you might be interested in reading later. Or you can simply write the review for your own use on a piece of paper and stick it inside the book cover. Another option is to start writing your own book review journal.

Not only will writing reviews help you to remember more of what you have read, but it will also help to unleash your creativity.

Join a Book Club

Another great way to retain information is to talk about what you have read. One way to accomplish this is by joining a book club, where everyone is reading the same books. Then, you can take part in discussions about each book that you read.

An in-depth discussion of a book you are reading will help you to retain more information. In fact, even a general, casual chat about the book will help engage your mind.

Teach Others

Last but not least, try teaching others the information you have read. Studies show that when you teach something or put that information into practice as soon as you read it, you could have a 90 percent chance of retaining all of that information.

Teaching will also show you where your weaknesses lie, and you can study more until you fully retain the information. Read, re-read, teach, and re-read some more. The more you drill the information into your brain, the more likely you will remember it later.