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I read variety of things in a day; But I forgot those things in a week or so. I identified that 'spaced repetition' will help me to keep remembering things. To do spaced repetition, i take note of everything I read, and I revise this at every weekend.

Is there an another way to do this, as am spending so much time on taking notes of whatever I read?


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I think it can be unpopular answer and not in the main stream but I think that the most is about motivation. If you really motivated to remember or to get something from the text you can do "miracles". Of course such answer wouldn't be of any worth if not followed by more explanation.

I think before you start to read you need to know why you doing this and it is not so obvious. Try to write at leas three thing why you reading this text. If you write such as "I need it for the exam" it does not mean it will motivate you. Next try to write what do you want to get from the text and if it is possible to achieve. "remember all of it" wouldn't help as it is to broad and could be impossible. Following this points you can get some more insight why, what and for what reason...

But I think there is another higher level of the motivation which is even more important. Did you ever experienced that you read a text of you interest and without any problem you remember facts months after just to shine on the party. This is motivation which can give you wings. If you really like what you read and you want to do that you remember much easier. Going forward maybe the focus should be on the subject itself. It could turn up that you just have to read it and it's coming from outside and you can have big problem to remember whatever.

There are of course the other techniques to remember better. All mnemonics helps. Making associations with something you know or remember already. Using different colours and structures in your notes etc.

I am sure you will get more of this answers but I think the basic is motivation and it should be focused first.

Good luck

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+1 for a nice explanation :) – swapnesh Jan 17 '13 at 10:41
+1 This is so true - start with Why! :) – iteles Jan 19 '13 at 12:03

In spoken language learning, spaced repetition is very popular and quite effective in the long run. Although, everyday use will also accomplish the same result. For example, in the Pimsleur method, you repeat like this:

Every: 5 seconds, 25 seconds, 2 minutes, 10 minutes, 1 hour, 5 hours, 1 day, 5 days, 25 days, 4 months, and 2 years.

And another I've run across, but unfortunately can't remember the name of, was:

  1. Every minute
  2. Every hour
  3. Every day
  4. Every week
  5. Every month
  6. Every year

I have also heard the phrase "You forget things 7 times before you remember them", meaning you have to study each thing at least 7 times, before you know it intuitively without refreshing.

But they all come down to the fact, that you must study the same thing not just a few times, but several times over a medium-long timespan. Otherwise they will not be stored in the long-term memory of the brain.

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Most of what we read in a day is temporary. If you want to really remember things, consciously focus upon the subject. Most people think that just because they read something, they must remember it. If you take a moment and notice things you remember right now, you'll find that when you think about the subject, your mind mentally visualized that stuff.

Similarly, our mind don't remember numbers, but the sound that occurs when we spell them. So, if you want to remember more efficiently, make sure you practice these 3 important concepts.

  1. Consciously focus upon what you are reading.
  2. Visualize. If the topic is theoretical, create a virtual example in your mind.

But the process has to be effortless. You don't really make any effort to remember songs, do you? Again, you best remember the songs you've watched... Try this method for at least one week, because it might need some practice to begin with.

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Check out How to Read A Book by Mortimer J. Adler.

The advice within can be applied to shorter pieces as well.

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I've written a little bit more extensively about this in my answer here -> If after a few weeks/months I forget a topic which I studied in the past, does it mean that I never understood it in the first place?

But the short answer for me is mind mapping - after a week of practicing it became second nature to scribble things down in mind map format. It's not quite taking notes as it's super quick which is the only reason I can handle doing it (I also used to take full notes and despair with how long it took).

In terms of revision, what I was taught when learning speed reading techniques was to have a 5 minute review of the mind map after 1day, 1 week and then 1 month.

I was surprised by how much this decreased how long I spent on a book and how much more I remembered - I hope it helps you too :)

I also very much agree with the answer above noting that you have to know what your motivation is for reading that book.

Best of luck!

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As far as I know there are different techniques to remember based on situations.

If I read for exams, then I have to learn it thoroughly with as many repetitions as required so that I don't even lose even a trivial fact, trying to understand the subject by some of the above discussed techniques like visualization, relating to some existing concepts/articles/actions etc., I think these techniques warrant a different discussion and there would have been lot of questions already discussing this in stackexchange. So I may be no need to repeat this.

Apart from these, for reading a book during my passtime and remember it, I found two techniques useful here.

  • One was the already discussed technique of visualization
  • and the other is thinking about the subject or passage being read and arguing (in mind) towards its pros and cons, the different approaches on the subject etc., A simple thinking about the subject forces the brain to fix the item in memory as we are going to the next step.
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Different people have different learning styles. Using the learning style that suits you best, use repetition. Read and re-read, take notes over and over, repeatedly tell others what you are learning (not the same person!), use the knowledge and build on that. For many, the best is a combination of all of the above: read it, write it, say it, use it. Repeat over time.

If you really want to learn it, it will take time and work. It's like losing weight or getting in shape - there aren't really any shortcuts, and it comes easier to some than to others.

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