Books don’t work

Books and lectures don’t work. We can know this anecdotally because of the many books and lectures we read or attend that fly out the window of our memory immediately. Research also backs this up. These medium don’t work because they do not take into account any theory of learning.

It takes more than a single encounter with a topic to encode it into long-term memory, which is important if we’re going to learn and synthesize new information with other information.

One of the ways we can improve our memory retention and learning is to use an idea from cognitive science called spaced repetition. There are several ways to accomplish this practice.

While reading, we can stop every few paragraphs and test our memory about what we just read or even go backwards and forwards as we read so that information is encoded longer in our memory.

After reading, it is helpful to schedule a time daily and weekly to revisit notes or re-read sections of a book or article in order to further commit this information to memory.

I use an app/integration called Readwise that allows me to sync my Kindle highlights to a Notion database. I spend time each week revisiting this Notion doc so I can read over my highlights again. I also take the time to rewrite important ideas into new notes on specific topics. This process of repetition and writing out new thoughts in notes has helped me to greatly improve my memory retention and learning.