I was sitting in my office the other day, looking at the books I have yet to read and wondered about how many books was too many books. I know, what a problem but hear me out-- have you ever stopped to think about how much we consume information and don’t necessarily let it sink it?
Sure, I’ll learn some neat facts that will bury away into some part of my brain, but am I really utilizing that information I just consumed? Usually not. Unless I write lengthy notes about whatever it is I just read or watched, the information kinda just goes in my head, swirls around my brain, and then makes a quick escape out of my ears as soon as I jam-pack new info in. This has been driving me bonkers for months, especially as I load up on reading articles for project proposals, writing posts, etc. So, the last few months of this year I am trying to be more intentional about exactly how I consume my information.
I have a love-hate relationship with articles. Love them because I am constantly learning something new... hate them because many are inaccessible as a non-student and/or super expensive to get. What strategies do you use to remember papers that you read? The advice I was once given is to write about a paragraph on each of the four following points for each paper you read:
So how does this look in an actual note book? Mine usually looks something like this-
I usually find that I take about 10 minutes writing notes on each paper. Talking about it afterwards with somebody (be it another scientist or friend) helps to really drive the idea home into your noggin!
Blog Posts/News Articles
There’s nothing that gets me more motivated and inspired about life than scouring National Geographic, BBC and more outlets for the best blog posts or news tidbits. It’s really cool seeing what other people are writing about and seeing what kind of advances are being discovered in x field -- this doesn't always include science for me. A girl can have multiple interests, ya know.
Best way for me to soak in all the information? By this stage y’all probably get the idea, but make sure you take notes and actually set a little time aside to either do the stuff you are reading about (ahem, like this post) or learn more about the topic you are interested in! Don’t read a new article until you mentally or physically note what you just learned – or want to start doing – in some capacity. Once you get in this mindset, you’ll start actually consuming articles instead of just reading, reading, reading on some sort of auto-pilot.
There is probably nothing more I love than a cozy fire, comfy clothes, a cup of tea and a book that’ll leave me feeling motivated, inspired, and like I know so much more. Reading is one of my favorite ways to learn -- and relax!-- which is why my reading list never shrinks and I have quite a few unread books on my shelves. Oops. If you're like me, then you know how hard it can be to put all that new information you've just learned into practice!
My biggest piece of advice? Take notes. While it may seem a bit "nerdy" or "a given," it truly works and you know what they say... if it ain't broke, don't fix it! I'm motivated to keep notes by having a cute journal to scribble in my thoughts to keep track of all your new revelations, ideas, or just plain fun facts. But, I take it up a notch. I'm also a HUGE post-it notes fan and enjoy my rainbow collection. Not just eye-catching and pretty, I'll do a color for each of the following: blog post idea, new project idea, to take action on, and to explore more.
Life is often hectic, meaning many of us rarely have time to read let alone take notes and apply the knowledge learned to your life. But trust me, there is no point reading a ton of educational books if you don’t remember anything they taught you. Instead of cramming x amount of books in a week, cut your usual reading time in half and spend the rest of your time taking notes, learning from them and applying whatever you have learned.
I'm OBSESSED with podcasts (I mean, why else would I constantly be a part of them and have my own??). I looove podcasts because I can be inspired, motivated, moved, entertained, and learn something fascinating no matter where I am. And while that’s what makes podcasts a great way to get heaps of content, it can be hard to retain all the information you've heard, especially if you’re a binge-listener like me. And also if you’re multi-tasking. (We've all done it, raise your hands.)
Continue binge-listening my friends... but have your phone handy and listen out for just one thing in each podcast-listening session you have that want to try out, look into more or apply to your life. I've started doing this and make a note on my iPhone in regards to that one little snippet of info that I want to hold on to. Most of the time it’s nothing overly elaborate or profound, but I find that I get SO much more out of my fave podcasts when I do this because it allows me to dive deeper into something I'm interested in.
If I'm on a walk or run and just unable to type something quickly I sometimes take a screenshot of the point in the episode where I heard my "one thing" and then come back to that point in the podcast later on when I am free to delve more into whatever it was that I was interested in. My phone is full of screenshots (I really need to clear that out...) and I have a "podcast notes" where I keep all my nuggets of info. It's fun to look back on!
The tutorials and how-to videos on Youtube these days are actually super impressive compared to what we had years ago. The amount of times I have gone down a YouTube rabbithole just watching different TED talks, tutorials, documentaries, etc. is too many to count but I regret nothing!
But I think I'll be cutting back a little on the watching so I can press pause and actually do all of that stuff I’ve been learning about if possible. And if you need to, take notes (I wasn’t lying when I said I love note-taking, haha). But if possible, take action on what you’re learning! Bookmark your fave videos (I have a whole tab of them on my computer) so you can re-watch them whenever!
Twitter is probably one of my favorite social media platforms when it comes to learning new information. I've been on twitter for about four (4) years now and learn something new every day from the different people I follow!
I am very selective about who I follow mainly because I don't want an overload of information that makes it difficult to make sure I have seen almost every tweet. This, along with this sweet little nugget of advice I'm about to share with you, is the way I best maximise my time and learning on Twitter. Ready for it?
I once heard that you should treat your "likes" as bookmarks. You have easy access to these, and therefore if you are selective with what you like you can easily find the interesting tweet. GENIUS. I also make sure to send myself tweets I 100% do not want to skip over. These two tips on such a fast-paced application allows me to really center myself in finding what it is I want to focus on.
How do YOU learn as much as possible from the information you consume? Let me know in the comments!
Hi! I'm Melissa, an Australian-based Latina science educator, podcaster, and freelance writer. I spend a lot more time on Instagram and Twitter, but blogging is my first love. Thanks for stopping by — I hope you stay a while.
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