My name is David Strauß.

I create useful software, write once in a while and run edgy circle.

How I Remember More From Articles And Books I Read

I would like to learn more from articles and books. Usually I forget all the interesting pieces I discovered once I’m finished. To prevent this I write about the relevant points I would like to remember and practice. The act of writing helps me to remember and learn more. Personally I will try to make more notes about the things I read on a daily basis.

I recently stumbled upon the post “51 Ways to Change Your Life” by Jack Cheng. Jack Cheng writes about how people love to read advice on how to improve their lifes. He argues that it is to easy to just agree with the advice and move on to the next one.

“When things are packaged into a list, we have a habit of reading one thing, nodding and moving on. When the next bit of juicy advice is just a few lines down the page, it’s effortless to tilt our eyeballs the extra millimeter. In our quick-fix culture, lists are the Taco Bell of knowledge.” Jack Cheng, 2008

Jack Cheng suggests to stop reading when you discover an advice you would like to apply. Instead of keep reading you should start practicing the advice until it becomes a routine. Only then you should start reading again. Although I fully agree with him, this approach doesn’t work for me. Partly because I can’t stop reading, and partly because I want to remember things from an article which are not practicable.

For the things which are practicable I try to apply Jack Chengs advice without the stop reading part. A good example is the abstract on top of this post. Based on this advice I’m learning how to write good abstracts. Another thing is iterating. I want to adapt a workflow where I work in iterations to improve the outcome. This post is also used to practice that.

While writing an good abstract and working in iterations are two things I can perfectly practice, Jack Chengs post is something I can’t practice. I can’t practice to remember his wise words. My approach to solve this problem is to write about it. You currently read what I wrote in order to remember Jack Chengs post better.

Although this approach takes time I can already see the benefit of it. It helps me to learn and remember things I probably would have just forgotten after reading. It also forces me to think more about the post I read. So for the future I will try to turn this approach into a habit.

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