In today’s society most of us read a considerable amount of information online on a daily or weekly basis. Whether you do business online, maintain a blog, read for your job, or just read for pleasure, I’m sure you could benefit from retaining more of what you read. The internet is a vast source of information that can be found and digested quickly, but how much can you really retain long-term? Here are ten helpful tips to try for yourself.
1. READ, RECITE, REVIEW
The three R’s will help you to engage in active reading that can help to increase how much you retain. Reciting refers to pausing periodically while you are reading to reflect on the information that’s being covered. Rather than rushing through the article, recite key points to let them sink in, and relate what you are reading to what you already know. The reviewing process involves going back to re-read parts that you may have missed or not understood. It also includes looking at the information as a whole and recognizing portions that relate to your purpose.
2. TRIM THE FAT
You’ll have a better ability to retain the important information that you’re reading if you can cut out some of the unimportant stuff. If you use an RSS reader, go through your subscription list and unsubscribe to any feeds that you really don’t need. Focus your reading on those sources that consistently provide you with the most valuable and relevant information.
3. TAKE ACTION
Most of us tend to remember things more accurately if we have a personal experience that helps us to understand and remember. When you read something that you know will be useful to you, implement what you have learned as soon as possible and you’ll give yourself a personal experience to go along with the information that you have read.
4. READ AT TIMES WHEN YOU CAN FOCUS
All of us have certain times of the day that are better than others for reading, retaining, and learning. If you allocate your most productive time to reading you’ll be able to have a sharper mindset and the material will get your full attention. Daily routines and schedules also influence your ability to retain. Read at times when you are not in a rush. Don’t force yourself to read at times that don’t allow you to give retention a shot.
5. BE AWARE OF VISUAL CUES
Writers use visual cues such as bold text, italics, lists, charts and graphs to cause certain content to stand out to you. Pay attention to these cues and use them to understand the structure and find the most important pieces of information. Visual cues can be especially helpful when scanning over content or reviewing after you have read. Not using the cues will lead to a lack of focus and decreased retention as the key points will not stand out.
6. MAP WHAT YOU ARE READING
Mapping involves a few basic steps that can drastically increase the retention rate of your reading. The first step is to understand your purpose. Know what it is that you want to learn or gain from reading. The second step is to pull out key words and phrases. The third step is to focus only on the information that matters to your purpose. With mapping you can achieve more in less time and retain more because less important details won’t be hogging your memory.
7. PRINT OUT PAGES OF PARTICULAR INTEREST
Sometimes the best way to keep something for future use is simply to print it out and file it away. Having a well-organized filing system can be a big help when you go back to look for specific information. For non-technical people that aren’t into online bookmarks, this is a realistic solution. Additionally, just reading something from paper rather than from the monitor can make a big difference for some people in terms of retention.
8. TAKE NOTES
Note taking is a common practice in a classroom setting or at seminars and conferences, but very few people take notes while reading online. Why? It’s probably not natural to most of us when reading online, but note taking has several benefits. First of all, the action of writing down the key points of an article will help to reinforce those ideas. Second, notes give you a way to go back and make use of information in the future. Note taking can also be combined with the filing system mentioned above.
9. OUTLINE THE ARTICLE
If there is a particular article containing a good bit of information that you want to understand and remember, take a pen and paper and jot down an outline of the article as you read. Writing the outline will help you to use an active reading technique that will increase retention, plus it will help you to understand and identify the relationship between key points of the article.
10. USE A BOOKMARKS MANAGER LIKE DEL.ICIO.US
As you’re surfing through the web you’re bound to come across certain pages and websites that you know you will have a use for in the future. Rather than relying on your memory to make your way back to this content, use a bookmarks manager (like del.icio.us) to store all of your bookmarked pages online in one place.
Simply using a bookmarks manager isn’t enough. You also need to be careful to accurately tag the page so that you will easily be able to find it later. When you go back to del.icio.us to find what you’re looking for, tags are probably the easiest way to browse through your bookmarks. Use tags consistently to mark the same types of pages and you’ll save yourself some time and headaches in the future.