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I've noticed that I don't retain as much as I'd like from articles that I read. I am trying to build a habit where after reading an article (when I have several open), instead of moving on to the next one, I pause to review what I learned. I've been trying to build this habit for a few months, but I keep forgetting to review. How can I build this habit?

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4 Answers

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I used a similar technique to reviewing = giving a short summary in a different language. At the time, I practiced this translating to English and then to French. I found it efficient, since I often needed to get back to article again in order to clarify the points and their relation to the context.

If you don't learn any foreign language at the moment, I recommend to create about 7 questions you will answer after reading an article.

For your case, keeping a little diary with read & reviewed articles may be a good motivator to actually do the review.

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If you find that you aren't retaining the information after reading the article, why do you think you're going to retain exponentially more by reviewing it immediately afterward?

I use spaced repetition techniques to increase retention when I'm reading articles. My process is that while I'm reading the article if I come across a point that I want to remember, I create notes in the form of multiple short question / answer nuggets. These questions and answers are input into some spaced repetition software (I use Project Memoryze but there is a huge variety including Anki and Super Memo). The software will then periodically ask you the questions, and it is up to you to come up with the answers.

I find that this technique actually makes it easier to read the article because the process of creating the questions makes me retain more information as I'm going. What used to happen was that an article might give the meaning of a term I'm not familiar with, but two pages on, I don't really recall exactly what the term means. Flipping back to find the meaning again really breaks my flow and makes reading less enjoyable. It feels like a backward motion. Creating questions as you go really flows well for me, especially as I often google further information about the new term and learn more. It feels like forward motion. I find that this kind of active reading is much more beneficial than just passively moving your eyes across the words.

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Good suggestion. I'm thinking I should try spaced repetition at some point, but not right now –  Casebash Mar 21 '12 at 10:30
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The flow I'm currently using as new blips on my radar:

  1. Read headline and enough information about said content (article or otherwise) and evaluate length, if its not short enough to read immediately, I send it to Instapaper to read later.
  2. Later, I read through my more lengthy articles in Instapaper. If it's worth keeping to review and possibly read later again, I will then send it on to my Evernote Inbox.
  3. The Evernote Inbox can be groomed just like an email inbox. Stuff can get categorized and archived like anything else. For things I want to review again some day, I follow a simplified GTD method.
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I have a note in front of me on my desk:

I keep six honest serving-men (They taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When And How and Where and Who.(Rudyard Kipling)

Then I am doing little drawings with the associations I have in mind (it does not matter how good your drawings are :) doing it is important). This helps remembering stuff. Your brain can only remember stuff through making associations, it does not matter with what you are associating the readed stuff.

Re-constructing knowlegde depends on how you constructed it.

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