If you’re anything like me, you’re a bit of a knowledge junkie, which means you probably read quite a bit.
Books. Blogs. Research reports. Training courses. Whatever your flavor might be.
The problem with being an information addict is it becomes tough to retain everything you read. In fact it’s often been said we only retain about 10 percent of what we read. With as much time as I spend reading, I didn’t care for this statistic too much when I first read it.
But then I started thinking about it, and realized that’s it’s probably fairly accurate, unless you actively take steps to enhance your learning.
“70 percent of what we discuss with others, 80 percent of what we experience, and 95 percent of what we teach to someone is retained and easily recalled.”
Discussion, conversation, and even teaching what you read to others has a profound impact on retention.
The Mindset Shift
These acts keep the ideas you experience through reading fresh on your mind, and help you form the neural pathways it takes to easily recall them.
But it’s not just the post-reading discussion and conversation that helps you retain what you read. It’s more about the mindset you operate under while you read.
By “reading as if you were going to teach” as the late Stephen Covey outlines in his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, you are able to significantly enhance your focus on the material.
You begin to take notes about your teaching points. You imagine the conversations and discussions you may have with people regarding this material. You rehearse your presentations before you sleep. And you begin to become deeply ingrained in the material through these acts – because you have to.
This is how some of the most effective people in the world get the most out of what they read on a daily basis. They’re in book clubs. Mastermind groups. Some of them are even teachers, or operate websites (much like this one) that discuss the material they read.
They read as if they were going to teach.
And learning comes a lot easier to them.
There’s no reason it can’t come a lot easier to you as well.
So, Here’s How to Do It
Putting this strategy into action in your life is fairly simple, but you do have to take a few steps towards actively teaching what you read for this to really work. It’s not enough to just tell yourself you’re going to teach it. Trust me. I tried it to save time and it’s just not as effective
Here are a few ways you can do this.
- Find a friend or co-workers to discuss your readings with
- Join or start a Mastermind Group
- Lead a study group
- Lead a class where you work
- Start a blog and write about what you learn
- Speak at a community event or a seminar
- Create a video course
Whatever the method, just make sure you’re in that mindset of teaching what you learn. It’ll stick much better, and you’ll make much more of an impact on the world.