We’ve all been there. You sit down to read a book, and the next thing you know, you’re at the end and you can’t remember a thing. It’s frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are plenty of techniques you can use to help remember everything you read. 

In this article, we’ll explore some of those techniques and discuss how they can help improve your reading comprehension. So whether you’re struggling with a textbook for class or just want to get more out of your fiction novels, keep reading for helpful tips on how to remember everything you read.

Use the “Generation Effect.

When you stop reading, your brain starts planning its response to whatever you just read. And your brain does this by taking the new information that you just read and comparing it to all of the old information that you already know.  

This is how we begin to understand what we’re reading; we compare what we’re currently reading with things that we’ve already learned in the past.

Therefore, as soon as you come across something new, you should stop and write about it.  Whether by hand or on a computer, this will help you to synthesize the new information with all of your existing knowledge. This is known as the “generation effect,” 

The generation effect explains that we understand and remember things better when we remember things better when they are generated from our own understanding. The process of writing what you read makes you explain it to yourself in a way that you understand it, and this will make it stick better. 

Use The “Scent” Method.

Another way to remember something is by linking memories with a certain scent. According to experts, the brain regions that juggle smells, memories, and emotions are very much intertwined. This, for instance, explains why we can link positive memories with a favorite food or experience.

The real trick here is figuring out what smells bring back good memories for you and then using that smell in conjunction with what you’re trying to learn.  This works best if you can link multiple memories with one scent, which is why using a scented candle that smells like chocolate cake might help you remember both what Paris looks like and some of the history of its development. 

Mind Map The Information You Learn. 

A mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items linked to and arranged around a central keyword or idea. Mind maps are great for remembering because they take what you’re learning and turn it into something you can visualize.  This activity reinforces the information by connecting different thoughts in your mind.  

As Hazel Wagner explained in her famous TEDx talk about mind mapping, to create a mind map, start with the central idea and add lines that branch off from it.  Then, on each of those lines write another word that is related to the central idea. You can keep branches connected by drawing arrows and connecting each new branch.

Teach Someone Else What You’re Learning.

One of the best ways to learn something and remember it well enough to pass a test or quiz is by teaching the material you just learned. Studies show that students who teach what they’ve learned learn faster, better, and consequently do better in tests.

Here’s the thing: Teaching requires you to organize your information in an easy-to-understand manner, which forces you to think critically about what you’ve read or heard.  This forces you to make connections between different thought processes, which will help you remember the material later on.

Read Using All Of Your Senses. 

Reading is an important part of absorbing information, but reading alone isn’t enough to fully understand a topic.  In fact, reading uses only one of your senses: visual.  

Reading with your other senses is crucial to understanding, and it can be done with just a little bit of magnification. A simple way to do this is by highlighting, underlining, or circling parts of the text that stand out to you using different colors.  

For example, when reading a business document, you might highlight or circle the parts of the text that are powerful using a bright color. Or, you could circle or underline parts that are passive or weak in orange, yellow, pink, etc.  This can help to create a much more vivid picture of the information you’re trying to understand. 

Make Connections Between Different Thoughts.

After reading about something that seems interesting or useful, think of ways that this topic links back to other areas of your life.  

It’s not enough to just make a mental note and hope you’ll remember it later (which is what most people do).  To learn something well, you need to make connections between different thoughts and ideas because this makes the information easier to recall later on.

For instance, say you come across an article talking about early education and the benefits of exposing young children to new experiences.  Most people would just read that article and say, “Wow, I should expose my child to new things,” without actually making connections between the ideas in that article and their own lives. 

However, if you want to make sure you remember this article, you can find ways to link the new information to your child’s life. For instance, by connecting it back to a recent conversation they had with your child. This is how you turn no-longer-new information into knowledge that sticks in your brain like glue.

Try The “Close Your Eyes” Method.

Visualization is one the simplest way to learn new information that you can remember.  When someone tells me they can’t remember something, I tell them to close their eyes and imagine the knowledge they’re trying to absorb in their head like a movie playing out in front of them.  

Instead of turning the lights off in your room, close your eyes and use this time to remember what you’re trying to absorb.  If I’m reading a book on the physiology of dogs, I might visualize a dog’s skeleton and its organs while I try to memorize their function in the body. This is a great way to remember new information, even if you have a bad memory. 

Find Ways to Use The Knowledge.

The more connections you can make between the knowledge you want to learn and some area of your life, the better chance you have of remembering what you read or heard. This is similar to teaching what you’ve learned. 

If I’m learning about a new business idea, for instance, I’ll try to think of different ways I can use this new information to make myself more money so that I’ll have a strong incentive for remembering what I read.

When you use the knowledge you’re trying to absorb in a way that benefits you, chances are you’ll remember it longer and more clearly.

Final thoughts

 If you’re serious about remembering everything you read, try using these methods: read actively and pay attention to how the information relates to your life; make connections between new and existing thoughts; use the “close your eyes” method for visualizing new information.

Use scent to link memories with new knowledge; find ways to use the knowledge you absorb in your own life (this is one of the best ways to remember what you learn), and find multiple links between the new information and memories that are personal to you. 

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