Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Implementing your Learnings

It's impossible to not stumble across numerous nuggets of sound advice, insightful viewpoints and eccentric musings if you read enough non-fiction. The difficulty though lays in remembering what you read and implementing the learning points into your daily life. If I rely purely on memory for instance, I am able to recall a maximum of five salient points from any self-help title I've read...and in most cases it's two.

Taking notes while reading can turn your experience into a chore and resembles studying too closely for my liking. So you shouldn't take notes while you read: it will interrupt the flow and enjoyment of your book and turns it into an academic exercise. Rather store to memory the resonant points and at the end of each reading session note them down. And right at the end of the book it's a good idea to preserve your notes by transferring them into an electronic document.

Practice some restraint when taking notes though. Limit the words you write after each reading session to a single sheet of note paper. You don't want to create an abridged edition of the book, because if you do that you will spend an unduly long period of time on one book. Notes are merely there to serve as cues that jog your memory and remind you of what you read; they are not meant to reproduce the entire book. When you look at the points you wrote weeks or even years later, you will be astonished at how a simple, summarized sentence will bring back a plethora of accompanying words and associated facts.

Often it isn't forgetting a fact that's the problem; it's the ability to recall that fact from memory that we struggle with. The things you read don't just leave your memory bank. When you have a quiet moment (like during a drive), switch the radio off and ponder what you read on the previous day. This way the important parts of your book will re-surface and you direct the brain to create new inferences and correlations. Furthermore you don't need to make it a point to implement everything you read; with understanding, contemplation and appreciation you will automatically utilize what you learnt at the appropriate time.

So don't sweat the details you will inevitably forget. Several aspects that you aren't acutely aware of will marinate into your unconscious mind and their effects will show in your behaviors and decisions. You can be fundamentally affected by something even if you don't specifically remember it. You aren't studying for an examination, so read with interest and curiosity and you will absorb what's most relevant to your journey.

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