Have you ever read something but don’t know when, or if, you will ever need to actually use it? And if questioned a few weeks later about the subject, is your memory vague, at best?
Myth – I can’t, nor will I, be able to remember everything I read.
Truth – You will remember what you choose to remember!
There are two factors at play: 1) When you are reading, you don’t usually know when you’ll need the information again. 2) You probably do not use any intentional, conscious, or active strategies to keep your memory fresh.
So what can you do to engage your memory for longer than a day? Here are some of the easiest things you can do to boost your memory:
- Ask yourself,“Why am I reading this?” and “What do I need it for?” If you know the specific answers these questions, you will read more intently keeping you more focused on what you need. If you don’t come up with solid enough answers to these questions, then you have no business reading it in the first place.
- Intend to remember. Engage your brain by telling it you want to remember what you are reading. Think about how you might use the material and create ways you can remember, like writing keeper notes, highlighting effectively, summarizing aloud, and so on.
- Stop trying to memorize – use repetition-over-time instead. Memorizing, or study reading — which typically means reading word-for-word — is a much slower reading rate than just reading for general information. Your working memory is limited to a few days so if you need to remember something, build in ways to review, discuss, or be exposed to the topic again on a regular basis.
- Have a good system for finding it, later. Instead of worrying about trying to remember something you don’t know when or if you will need again, it is a better use of your time and memory power to create a good system for locating the material when you need it.
- Make notes for future reference. Effectively highlight or write notes in the margins of your reading before filing it away so when you go back to it, you can avoid re-reading it in its entirety and you will easily find what’s important.
Wishing you a stronger reading memory!