Caveat or Disclaimer:
To avoid too many branches and inflexions, the following steps have been presented with reading in focus, but the steps and principles apply solidly to watching or listening to a presentation as well; be it seminar, audio or video, etc. Just extrapolate…
Step 1: Have in focus, a very strong reason why you want (or have to) read / learn
Bringing ‘a very strong reason’ into focus, will invoke in you the kind of passion that will sustain you through your learning times, as it will help you to avoid (or otherwise overcome) drudgery, boredom or that feeling of wanting to sleep soon after starting; a ‘very strong reason’ melts away all probable, possible or plausible excuses! Examples of ‘strong reasons’ may be: ‘to avoid failure,’ ‘to avoid punishment,’ ‘to avoid disgrace,’ ‘to excel in an exams,’ ‘to win an award or gain a special recognition,’ ‘to solve a problem,’ ‘to come up with a theory or an invention,’ ‘to write a winning proposal,’ ‘to prove, or otherwise dispute/debunk a notion,’ etc.
It is important to note that one reason may invoke different passions in different people, so what may be a strong reason for somebody, may not be a strong enough reason for another person, or for you (for that matter) so come up with a number of reasons and see which one invokes the needed passion in you. For me, I hate to be ignorant so I learn like crazy; because, “The illiterates of the future are not those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn!” – Alvin Toffler. And really, “The greatest obstacle to progress is not ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge” – Daniel Boorstin; because “When you know the right things, the boundaries around your life suddenly disappear.” – Brian Sher. The reason why I spend a lot of time and effort to understand the information I encounter (by poring on volumes of same or similar information from different and especially more original sources or authors, and repeatedly reading, listening or watching, analysing, questioning, etc) is that often when I have relied on people who were generally seen as knowledgeable and reliable, a little curiosity into the information (out of being meticulous) have revealed gross misrepresentations or misleading interpretations and consequently wrong guidance on their part; I give a very serious example in one of my turning points presentations; you may click here to see that.
Step 2: Make a positive declaration about your ability
Say it confidently to yourself that: “I have the mind to understand anything and everything I read if I want to, and if I follow the rest of the simple steps given below, I will be able to understand all that I’m going to read.” You may repeat it several times until it hits you. The statement is true; you are just stating a fact so repeat it until it becomes believable for you without a shadow of doubt!
Step 3: Decide to share it
Make up your mind that you are going to share whatever you learn, with others. This is because once you become conscious that you are going to have to share (teach) the material, your mental and emotional faculties become more alert and therefore your ability to understand, retain and remember the facts of the subject increases tremendously.
Step 4: Mark key phrases, sentences and portions
Focus on the reading; read actively, carefully and patiently; phrase by phrase, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, etc., and as you read, underline key phrases and sentences and use vertical strokes to mark in the margin, portions that you would want to understand better, and those you would want to read again for quick revision. Use a dictionary to better understand words that are not very familiar, and even to double-check and be sure of the meaning of certain familiar words in the context that they have been used; here, let your instinct guide you. You still have to do this, even if you are reading a soft copy on the computer, tablet or phone. If necessary, copy the material you read on screen into a reader that allows you to mark; such as Adobe / Acrobat Reader, MS Word, Evernote, Awesome Note, Noteshelf, etc.
Step 5: Make notes
Write important ideas that occur to you as you read. Write either in the margin of the book (if the book is yours), the notepad provided at the last pages of some of the books, your own separate notebook, or post-card size memory cards. As part of the notes, create illustrations; convert some of the textual information into simple diagrams or charts and tables.
You have to note for sure what the notes (writer or speaker) is saying; bringing every other fact related to the issue into focus. And equally importantly, you have to note what the notes (writer or speaker) is NOT saying.
Step 6: Ask questions
Ask yourself relevant questions that follow from what you read. You must definitely include the classical one, “What does this require of me, and how do I apply this to improve my world?” Do note down the responses that come to mind.
Step 7: Share it
First, share the things you learn, with yourself. Without looking into the book, try to say (silently or audibly) in your own words, the things you learn. You may preferably write it out on a formica board, magic board, separate sheets, or in a notebook. This will help you to master the subject matter quickly as it compels you to refer several times to relevant portions, and in the process, help you uncover insights that could otherwise have escaped you. Repeat this until you are able to recall well the things you learn. Then share with others the important principles you learn. This will further help you to understand the issues and principles much better and remember them a lot easier. By sharing it this way, you will also find it much easier to put into practice the principles since it will not be strange to those around you, who themselves would also be trying to put the principles into practice; so you’ll have company rather than opposition. If possible, within 24 to 48 hours of learning, share the knowledge acquired. Share with your loved ones at home, and then with your other associates at school, work, club, etc. Decide right now, list those you would want to share your knowledge with and set time aside; mark your calendar, fix it on your timetable or weekly schedules and endeavour to do it.
Step 8: Review often
Read over your notes and marked ideas, repeatedly and possibly daily. Read over the things you previously did not understand so well, too. As you read over you will discover that the things you did not previously understand well would have become easier to understand, and you would even get deeper understanding of the others too. Set time aside; mark your calendar, fix it on your timetable or daily schedules and do it. After each reading of the book or document, sign and indicate the date against the signature; so that if for example you happen to read the book or document three times, there should be three signatures; each with the reading date and time (i.e., date and the time you started, and date and the time you finished reading).
Step 9: Apply what you learn
The great philosopher Aristotle once said, “One must learn by doing the thing, for though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try.” Act on the recommendations; apply the principles immediately, or as soon as possible. To make it easier you can select about three principles at a time and repeatedly apply them faithfully until they become a habit, then you move on to do same with the other principles. A poet wrote, “I hear and forget. I see and hear and I remember. However, when I see, hear and do, I understand and succeed.” You also must ‘do’ so you can understand. A great philosopher once said, “The essence of knowledge is, having it, to use it.”
The above notes is an extract from…
The simplest, fun-filled and most effective way to learn and get the most out of write-ups and other presentations and be able to easily remember the facts / details
Again, though the foregoing steps have been presented with getting the most out of reading in focus, the same steps, techniques and strategies apply to getting more out of Seminars / Lectures, Videos, Audios, etc; just extrapolate.
Also, there are more or deeper principles, techniques and strategies you need to know and use to shoot through the roof. For instance, Reading is a popular learning method, but it is a lower method; so ordinarily, if a person reads something, he/she is likely to remember only 10 percent of it, after 2 weeks. There are 12 methods in the series, and the higher methods of learning allow a person to understand so well, and to remember over 90 percent; even after 2 weeks; so much more effective! The methods are beautifully outlined in the Brainy Acts for Learners training/manual; get a copy/copies or subscribe online. Find out all the categories / methods and more in Brainy Acts for Learners!