Hacking Forgetting: 4 Reading Lifehacks for “Wisdom Retention”

Hacking Forgetting: 4 Reading Lifehacks for “Wisdom Retention”

By Jonathan Roseland

Can you think of a non-fiction book that you enjoyed reading about 10 years ago?

I can think of a few, The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene, for example, which a rapper friend of mine recommended to me. What do you remember from books that you read a decade ago?

Not much, right? Isn’t reading dense non-fiction kind of a waste of time if you don’t remember much from what you read? Reading is, of course, a better pastime than TV or browsing social media, but if you are only going to remember one or two factoids from a book that takes you 10–20 hours to read that’s not a great way to spend the limited time you have to devote towards intellectual growth.

So I’ll share four reading lifehacks for optimizing your metabolism of the knowledge in these pages into wisdom…

The SuperMemo app

You should be highlighting and taking notes as you’re reading. When you come across something that you want to commit to memory, highlight it, hit copy, and add it as a flashcard in the Supermemo app (on your smartphone or computer). This app is the best tool I’ve found for hacking forgetting and for high-leverage learning. Its algorithm will prompt you to review what you’ve learned at specific intervals optimal for you.

SuperMemo Graphic

When you add a flashcard, you’ll need to add a question or hint that will prompt you to remember. This well-designed software has helped me learn two languages, it’s worth a download (and it’s free).

Category: Software & Apps

Let your working memory consolidate what you’ve read

Memory consolidation 

I’d encourage you to read in the evenings before bed, dwell on the ideas as you drift off to sleep, or go for a walk without your smartphone after reading and contemplate. Listen to the audio chapters of audiobooks repeatedly. Using social media or your smartphone after reading will scramble your working memory, and you’ll lose some of the knowledge that you paid for!

Rearticulate to retain

Rearticulate to retain

As you’re reading keep a little “diary” of your thoughts and what you’re learning. You could do this the old-fashioned way with pen and pad, but I contend that vlogging or even making voice notes is better, this engages your verbal memory. All you need is a webcam or smartphone to vlog. Your vlogs don’t have to be public. Your vlogs or voice notes don’t have to be scripted or look or sound good. What you take a few minutes to verbally articulate will remain all the more concrete in your mind — This is why I record lengthy and detailed podcasts reviewing some of the great books that I read.

Super speed read with Spritz

Spritz is a very cool app that allows you to read up to 1000 words per minute. Your reading comprehension does take a hit reading at this velocity, so I’d suggest using it for knowledge retention; to review the notes and highlights that you’ve taken from books. How you would use it is to copy/paste the passages of books that stood out to you into a Google doc or Evernote, then Spritz it with the Spritzlet web browser app or A Faster Reader for Android. And you can re-visit the impactful passages of a book in the amount of time it takes to go to the bathroom.


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Memory consolidation

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