There are lots of times when it’s just not practical to take notes to help you remember what you read.
After all, it would be weird if you took out a notepad every time you visited Huffington Post or Forbes or Facebook.
But when you’re chatting with someone later that day or later in the week, it’s awkward when the things you read that seemed so interesting at the time just escape your memory.
That’s not an unusual situation and it’s not limited to our senior years.
Part of this is down to our memory being efficient.
If you remembered all the trivia and “interesting” facts that you came across every day, your mind would be clogged up with all those interesting but useless bits of information.
Which would push out the things you really did want to remember.
But there are times when it’s useful to remember things without having to write them on the back of your hand as a reminder.
Maybe just for a day or two – so you can impress people with your knowledge or your latest joke.
Maybe for longer than that – you can’t memorise the whole pile of text books for that critical exam and sometimes the notes you’ve made make less sense when you come back to read them.
There are lots of different tricks to remembering what you read without taking notes.
A lot of people like to use vivid pictures.
For instance, Derren Brown uses a room with lots of different locations (52 to be precise) when he’s card counting. Which is a useful skill-set if you want a short term gain but a long term ban from real life casinos.
That’s a good technique for remembering relatively fixed things.
With the card counting, Derren Brown puts each card dealt in a separate location and since there can be 4 decks of cards in the game (because counting cards with one deck is easy for too many people and the casino wouldn’t have the edge) each location can have several cards on it.
The same principle can be used for other things you want to remember, including what you’ve just read.
It’s good for facts and figures – you might use a bunch of Dalmatians to remember the number 101, a group of dwarves to remember 7 and so on.
The more vivid the picture, the more likely you are to remember it.
So if the 101 Dalmatians were all chewing bones and you were using that to remember something to do with fossils, that would help your memory to remember.
The next tip to remembering more of what you just read is to read actively.
That’s very similar to active listening.
So often, we “listen” or “read” on auto pilot.
You’ll know this if you’re watching a TV show and someone else in the room asks what just happened. There’s a good chance you’ll know approximately what it was but not be able to give a clear answer.
Active reading means concentrating more on the words you’re reading and their overall meaning rather than just mindlessly going through them.
Interestingly, studies have shown that we remember more of what we’ve read if it’s in physical form (printed on paper) rather than electronic.
So if you want to improve your chance of remembering, a physical book or magazine will out perform your phone or Kindle without any extra effort on your part.
And if you take the time to really read, even better.
Whilst it may sound counter intuitive, I find that speed reading a text book first followed by a second, slower, pass helps even more.
The speed reading works with your subconscious mind – which processes millions of pieces of information every day – and lets the important facts seep into your mind.
Try it – you could find it’s the technique that helps you to remember more whilst taking less time to do it.
Re-reading a piece can help you to embed the content into your memory.
That’s why revision works well but you don’t need to keep it just for exams.
Go back to the item in a day or two, read it again and you’ll find that more of it sticks in your memory.
And because a lot of our memory is handled by our subconscious mind, hypnosis can be a nice aid as well.
You definitely won’t be taking notes as you listen to a hypnosis track to help you remember what you’ve read – if you’re like me, your handwriting is illegible enough when you write with your eyes open.
Click this link and test hypnosis for yourself.
I think you’ll find that it will help you to remember much more of what you’ve read.