Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Elon Musk and other business icons are all bookworms. Most great leaders agree that reading more will make you smarter.
“I just sit in my office and read all day” said Warren Buffett.
Warren Buffett credits many of his great money decisions to his reading habit. He says he starts every morning by reading several newspapers. Buffett said that he spends as much as 80 percent of his day reading.
When asked once about the key to success, Buffett said, “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”
“I read and think,” Buffett also said. “So I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulse decisions than most people in business. I do it because I like this kind of life.”
Bill Gates reads 50 books a year. He always has a book with him wherever he goes. For Gates, reading is still the main way that he learns new things.
But while to increase the number of books you read is a good start, to get more value out of each book is even better. We want to deeply understand, remember, and then use what we learn and not simply read and soon forget.
These are 9 strategies that will help you actually retain more from the books you read.
1. Learn to Teach
When you need to learn something, try getting it clear enough in your mind that you can teach it to a friend, rather than just focusing on rereading the material multiple times. The goal of teaching will help you focus your efforts and be more effective. If you imagine that you’ll need to teach someone else, you can speed up your learning and remember more.
2. Test Yourself
Tests aren’t the end goal of learning, but they are actually the means of learning itself. Try to remember what information you have read. If you can’t find practice tests, try to imagine what questions could appear on a test to focus your mind on what you need to learn.
3. Learn in Short Bursts of Time
Experts suggest dedicating 30-50 minutes to learning new material. Anything less than 30 is just not enough, but anything more than 50 is too much information for your brain to take in at one time. Once you’re done, take a few minutes break before you start another session.
Brief, frequent learning sessions are much better than longer, infrequent ones.
4. Don’t focus
Immersing yourself in one concept or chapter until you master the content seems to make sense, but it’s better to mix things up. Moving back and forth between different subtopics helps you see connections between concepts and help you remember information better.
5. Study in Different Places
The science of learning says that you should mix up where you study. Associating different environmental details with the material you are learning makes it easier to remember later.
6. Take Notes (Better by Hand)
Taking notes is an effective memory and learning aid because it forces you to think about what you are trying to learn. But while it’s faster to take notes on a laptop, using the more traditional pen and paper system will help you learn and comprehend better
“In three studies, we found that students who took notes on laptops performed worse on conceptual questions than students who took notes longhand,” writes coauthor and Princeton University psychology professor Pam Mueller. “We show that whereas taking more notes can be beneficial, laptop note takers’ tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning.”
7. Take a Nap
Sleeping is important to help you retain what you learn, and getting sleep in between study sessions is even better than sleeping after concluding the learning session.
It can boost your recall up to six months later, according to research published in Psychological Science.
8. Make Associations
Science shows that you can remember things more easily if you connect them to previous knowledge.
Try to form associations between the information you must remember now and something you already know: a concept, a person, an object, an emotion, etc.
9. Use Repetition
Aristotle once said: “It is frequent repetition that produces a natural tendency.”
Repetition is a key learning technique because it helps transition a skill from the conscious to the subconscious of the learner.