Forgot what you read? Write it down!

October 13, 2011 — Leave a comment

Have you ever read to the bottom of a page only to realize that you have no idea what you just read? How about forgetting after a single sentence? It’s not uncommon because we all have too much going on in our lives.

Often times, I’ll watch an entire movie and can hardly explain any specifics the next day. It’s almost like I didn’t even watch it! I realized the same principle applies when I read books. I’m sure at some subconscious level the book plants some thoughts in my mind, but it’s hard for me to consciously remember.

My solution is to write down quotes that I find important. It helps you hold onto the quote both figuratively and literally. I started when I was traveling to a client location and I needed to fill the time on the long flights. This was way back in 2007 before e-readers were common!

Here’s the process I use:

1. Write down the quote on a spare piece of paper (I wrote small so I could keep them all on one page)
2. Copy the quotes onto my computer for future reference

This increased the chances of remembering the quote because I spent so much time on each one. Think about it. Reading the quote and then copying it to paper will make you reference it multiple times so you can write it all down. Then you’ll do the same thing when you type it on your computer.

Another benefit is it makes me pay more attention to the book because I’m busy looking for the next quote. However, even with this strategy, I sometimes catch myself scanning pages without paying attention to the words.

I started this method while reading books in 2007 and continue today with 2,500+ total quotes.  The only problem with doing this on a flight is some people get nervous when they see me hunched over my book and writing something so small in cursive that they can’t see it!

Surprisingly, out of the hundreds of flights I’ve been on, only one person has ever asked me about it. He went on to tell me he read Abraham Lincoln did the same thing so I guess I’m in good company.

I’ve heard that you can take notes on some e readers but I’ll stick with my old way until someone can convince me of a better way. Do you write down quotes or have another way of capturing them? Let me know about it in the comments.

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