Disclaimer: Ive spend hours researching this topic and simplifying things for you.It gets a bit nerdy, but if you apply these techniques -> your life can change.
Instead of reading 100 books, its better to find one that really changes your life. Thats why I made the decision to be very particular about which books Im reading, but once I pick one, I want to learn as much as possible from it.
My current read
Knowledge is much more valuable when we can act on it, and change our behavior.
Thats why books for me are not solely a source of inspiration and great stories, but also a factor of change for the better. They influence our mental models, so our brain can create better connections in the future, having more information at our disposal. This, in fact, might lead to better decisions and higher ROI of oneself.
I love books, but there are always more great books out there than I can potentially read. My list now has 60+ books that I want to read, and realistically, it might take a few years to work on all of those.
Heres my list of books
Ok, what are my goals for reading books?
- Learn new concepts and ideas
- Create actionable items and change my behaviors
- Build on top of concepts and share my thoughts with the world
- Create an easily accessible database (my external brain)
- Get inspired
Once Ive outlined the goals, now I need to create a system that will allow me to easily capture everything, build on top of that, share with the world, and much more.
Ive done my homework and researched how other people do this:
He explains what are mental models and how they work as lenses through which one perceives reality. Based on our perception, we make decisions, and take actions.
Mental model affects perception -> decisions -> actions.
Learning and reading = upgrading your mental models.
In other words, the more you know, the more connections your brain can make, therefore improving your ROI on decisions and actions. This helps better understand reality. Thats why storytelling is so powerful for kids in young age we feed them not only with milk, but also with ways to perceive the world. I loved reading greek myths when I was a child, and other books about adventures.
Stages of effective reading
- Active learning / reading
- Processing and reflecting
- Taking action
Its important to know why I am reading this particular book. How do I choose which book to read from a list of 60+ ? This is how I consider it:
- Its applicable to my current situation (so I can make better decisions)
- It inspires (so my mental state is great and Im full of energy)
- It gives new perspective (when I want to learn something new)
Depending on the stage Im at, I will pick the book.
How to turn knowledge from your short term memory into your long term understanding?
Lets agree from now on theres NO MORE PASSIVE READING.
If we spend time reading a book and forgetting the concepts, thats time wasted. I am guilty of it too. I remember how fascinated I was with the concepts Homo Deus, but since I havent made notes I dont remember much. I want to engage with the book, soak the information and concepts, turn on critical thinking and reflect on these new ideas.
It sounds obvious, but taking notes while reading a book is a good starting point. But how do we do that? What kind of notes should we take? I have created a template in Notion for each book Im going to read.
Here are the questions I am asking myself and this is how I will organize my notes for each book:
- Short summary what is this book about (one major takeaway)
- Why am I reading this book
- Chapter reviews and Notes (this will be organized in a way so I can test myself later on)
- Great quotes (something Id like to learn by heart and use later)
- Actionable items (books should be changing our actions and behaviours)
- Summary (35 main takeaways from the book that resonate the most with me)
Template for Book Notes
Mind Mapping is considered to be one of the best forms of learning and memorizing, as it engages both parts of the brain. Left side is responsible for logical reasoning and storing the information (text and keywords) and the right side is responsible for creativity and visual interpretations (coloring and visual positioning of the elements). Both things enhance our ability to remember things. Thus, a mind map is a must-use tool for everyone who wants to learn, or remember concepts easily.
Im currently using Miro for that, but there are a few things I dont like about it.
So creating a mindmap of a book or some concepts that it presents is a great way to actively work and interpret the information. I will be creating mindmaps for all kinds of concepts, including Effective Learning, Productivity, Love, Business, and more.
Heres an example of a mind map that I created for this topic
We learn best when we are tested. Since many of us have already graduated from schools and universities, theres no one to test us. So, we have to test ourselves.
Create a summary of each chapter
To move the knowledge from short term memory into a long term understanding we should create concepts in our brain and try to interpret them. The best way to do that is to write down a summary for each chapter without looking back.
Create bullet points and test yourself
The notion allows one to create structures of notes in a way that it enables testing and active recall. For example, you can use Toggle lists that expand once you click on a toggle, so you dont see the information at first and can test yourself.
Put your subconsciousness to use
Emerson advised to use your subconsciousness to maximize your ROI. Thats right, before you go to sleep, think about the topic and ask questions. I will be writing them down on a piece of paper. Once I wake up, the first thing to do is to write my dreams or thoughts down. Weve seen how the worlds geniuses such as Tesla, Da Vinci, Mendeleev harvested this method. I think it might be worthwhile trying.
Just ask a question before going to sleep. Its that simple.
Repeat and retest
Organizing repetition is crucial. The best way to repeat something is when you are learning more on this topic, or when you need these thoughts for actions on your business and or other decisions. Thats why Tagging is important, and I must create a system of tag and Notes. Ive been hearing a lot about the Zettelkasten method of note taking, and I want to explore how it works. Zettelkasten basically allows cross linking of various notes and entities, so you can tag practically everything, and make those connections around topics you are exploring and learning.
Present your findings
Another good ways to understand and remember material, is to present it to someone. Thats why I will be writing blog posts, making live videos and speaking in front of audiences.
Many people refer to Feyman technique that allows robust learning and transformation of short term memory into new mental models:
Essentially, the Feynman Technique is this:
- Identify the subject. Write down everything you know about the topic.
- Teach it to a child. If you can teach a concept to a child, then youre way ahead of the game.
- Identify your knowledge gaps. This is the point where the real learning happens.
- Organize + simplify + Tell a story.
In a nutshell, here how Im going to read
- Have a clear WHY Im reading this book
- Review my previous notes and mind maps on topics that are going to be in the book
- Actively read the book
- Create mind maps
- Make notes and bullet points for each chapter
- Create quotes
- Make side notes of topics to research
- Try to tag everything through Zettelkasten method
4. Create active recall notes
- Make notes after each chapter
- Create bullet points
5. Present my findings
- Through blog posts or public speaking
- Talking to friends or to myself
6. Create a system of repetition
- Time repetition
- Topic repetition once Im learning more on the topic (hello Zettelkasten and tagging)
7. Use subconscious learning
- Ask a questions before I go to sleep
- Take notes once I wake up
8. HAVE FUN!
The whole idea is to enjoy the learning process, as we are diving into the world of knowledge.
Systems that Im going to use
Ive started using Notion as my external memory and life system. For mind mapping, Ill go with Miro.
I will be reporting on the progress as Im sure many things will be improved and changed during the process.