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The Complete Guide to Effective Reading

https://medium.com/@maartenvandoorn/the-complete-guide-to-effective-reading-fc1835937757

medium.com

The Complete Guide to Effective Reading
Learning how to learn: how to make your ROI on reading explode Learning is a heavily misunderstood concept. As a paradigm example of deep work, we understand that, when reading, directing your full attention to the material at hand is essential. Grasping complex information is hard. But this is only half the battle.

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Meta-Learning

Meta-Learning

It's knowing how to learn. Learning itself is a skill, and knowing how to do it well is an incredibly valuable advantage.

Merely acquiring information is not learning. People need the ability to make sense of complexity and to combine many bits of data into a broad picture of the world, especially in today's high-information world.

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Learning has 2 phases

Learning has 2 phases

Learning is a two-step process:

  • Read/listen: feeding ourselves new information.
  • Process and recall what you’ve just ‘learned’: connecting new materials to what we already knew.

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Remembering the right things

You should not waste your time by committing unimportant details to memory. 

Your focus should be on understanding the bigger picture, on how things relate to each other.

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Mental models and learning

Mental models and learning

A mental model is a mental, simplified depiction of how something works. It influences our perception, decisions, and behavior. 

Learning means upgrading your mental models. The more models you have — the bigger your toolbox — the more likely you are to have the right models to see reality.

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Active reading vs. passive reading

  • Active reading: is reading with the conscious intention to understand, integrate and evaluate the information you’re reading.
  • Passive reading: where you just take the words in.

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Mind mapping

Mind mapping

It's a visual technique for summarizing the material that is specifically designed for the purpose of building a mental picture and seeing new connections. Mind-mapping is great for getting the core concepts of the book and ‘seeing’ how they relate to each other.

It works great for understanding the broad picture and updating your mental representation of your reality.

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Written active recall

Written active recall

After you’ve completed a chapter, write bullet points on what you want to take away from it.

It will give you a concise list of bullet points per chapter, without interrupting the flow of reading and without you having to write stuff you don’t care about.

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Cicero

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The QEC method

The QEC method

The QEC (question/evidence/method) described by Cal Newport: "Reduce the information presented to you into questions paired with conclusions. Between the two, list the evidence that justifies the connection. In other words, the questions and the conclusions become a wrapper around the raw facts — transforming them into self-contained ideas."

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Put your unconsciousness to work

Intentionally direct the workings of your subconscious mind while you’re sleeping.

  • Every night, take out an empty piece of paper and jot down thoughts and a follow-up question relating to what you’ve been trying to understand. 
  • Every morning the first thing you do after waking -  answer last night’s question.

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Engage in active recall

Engage in active recall

What you can’t explain to others, you don’t understand yourself.

The single best strategy for organizing constant growth is by involving fellow human beings. To test your understanding of something — anything — explain it to someone.

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The cycle of learning

The cycle of learning

Acquiring information and learning are not the same thing.

To learn, we need to get the information into our latticework of mental models. For a higher return of investment of reading, we need to engage with the information we read and reflect on it.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Note-taking: a powerful tool for learning

  • Notes extend your memories: writing can be seen as an external enhancement of your brain, allowing you to think more complicated thoughts and solve harder problems.
  • Not...

Figure out your purpose

Ask yourself why are you reading:

  • What am I trying to remember? 
  • How am I going to use this information? (e.g. on a test, cited in an essay, etc.)
  • What do I plan to do with the notes later? Will you be studying off of them extensively? Or maybe you’re just taking notes to stay focused, and it’s highly unlikely you’ll look through them after?

Strategies for note-taking

  • Jot notes in the margin. These aren’t particularly searchable, but they allow you to reiterate the main idea.
  • Keep a small notepad on the side, take breaks each section to jot down the main ideas. 
  • Create flashcards. In the rarer situations where memorization of details is important, then a simple strategy can be to just create flashcards while you take notes. 

3 more ideas

Taking notes requires a balance

Taking notes requires a balance

It’s easier to take notes when we’re listening to content because our hands are free. But when reading a book, taking notes interrupts our reading flow.

There is a balance between taking t...

Consider why you want to take notes

Before you start taking notes, ask yourself what your goal is.

  • Paper versus digital. If your goal is to study the content of a book, paper is better. But if your goal is to be able to reference certain parts of the book easily, an ebook may be better suited.
  • Serendipity versus control. When you want to take notes to read them for pleasure afterwards, highlighting and marginalia could be more suited. But if rediscovery is your desire, a structured system, such as an index of the key ideas, may be better.
  • Learning versus creating. If you want to learn from a book, your notes will be factual, but if you're going to create your own content, your notes will be more original.

Capture key ideas without interrupting your reading flow

Taking notes should not become a tedious process, but it should be made as seamless as possible.

  • If you are reading a physical book, write down main ideas or questions in the margins. Try to keep it very short. If you are reading an ebook, highlight the essential parts and write a few words to add contextual information.
  • If your goal is to learn or reference your notes in the future, you may want to stop at the end of each chapter and collate the ideas separately from the text. This can be done on the inside cover of the book, or on a separate index card, where you rewrite the key ideas with the corresponding page numbers.

Successful people stick to their reading habit

A random sampling of the world’s most successful people will show one common trait: a love of reading. Because reading is the easiest way to continue the learning process. 

Ryan Holiday

Ryan Holiday

Whatever problem you’re struggling with is probably addressed in some book somewhere written by someone a lot smarter than you."

Our memory is made up of 3 components

...in terms of reading retention:

  • Impression
  • Association
  • Repetition