Here’s how I make sure what I learn from books stays with me. Here’s how I make it stick. Because it’s such a waste of time to spend hours (days?) reading a book with tons of ideas, principles and content that could improve your life, business, relationships, creativity, health or a number of other things and not remember them. If you don’t remember them, you want implement them. And isn’t that the reason you read the book in the first place?
First, I write in all the books I read. I take notes, I underline, I highlight. I put smiley faces at something that I find funny. I put stars for something I like. I put double stars for something I love. I will write “wow” for something that really blows my mind. This helps me to work with the content.
The main idea is to mark up what I want to remember, what I want to implement. It’s also helpful for me when I go back through a book the second time or even years later when I’m remember something in a certain book, but don’t remember exactly what it was. I will scan through my markings to trigger my memory. This is all preparation for what’s next.
Second, I go back through chapter by chapter or section by section and write up the main themes/ideas from each. If there are powerful quotes, I will quote them in my notes. If there are stories or examples that I want to remember, I’ll put those down.
My goal is to put everything on a single piece of paper. This gives me the ability to glance at the entire book, with all the principles, in two minutes or less. Doing this a few times helps push the ideas closer to long-term memory.
Nothing forces you to learn a topic like having to stand in front of someone and explain it. You can do this by teaching a class, speaking at a church, talking to a friend over coffee, or shooting a Periscope or YouTube video. Teaching a topic forces you to know it well enough to explain the why, how, what of the idea. Often you’ll need to come up with your own examples, stories and illustrations to explain it. This will further help you internalize the content.
This is where you find ways to make the content/ideas your own. This is not about stealing or plagiarizing. This is about taking the principles you want to use and use them in your life. If you learn a new health principle about increasing protein in the mornings after a workout, then start eating more eggs after your run. Find ways to begin using the ideas. Try them out, see if they work for you.
This is just a habit to review the content every so often. I do this with some content on the principles and foundation of writing. There are a few books that I review almost every year. I get a new team of leaders every spring that I teach the principles of high performing team. I use my one page summary and review it every year before teaching it to them.