Strategies to Boost Retention and Insight from Books 📚

Welcome to The Productivity Blueprint newsletter 🗞️

We hope you enjoyed learning more about overcoming inaction from our last newsletter, and recognized some of the factors that may be influencing you. If you missed this read, you can check it out here 🙂 

Today we’re taking a look at some strategies to ensure the knowledge you extract from books makes it into your daily life. Let’s dive in.

"In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time – none, zero."

In an age flooded with information, the true challenge lies not in the act of reading but in retaining and leveraging the insights gained. This article serves as a guide to enhancing your reading effectiveness, advocating for a strategic approach to what and how you read. It distinguishes between different levels of engagement—skimming for breadth and delving deep for depth—and introduces practical techniques to ensure that the wisdom extracted from books is not just consumed but absorbed and applied.

Here are some strategies to take with you into your next read:

  1. Selective Reading: Skim broadly to identify worthwhile texts, then concentrate on deeply understanding a few. Embrace quitting books that don't engage or add value.

  2. Understanding Levels of Reading: Recognize the purpose of your reading—whether for entertainment, information, understanding, or mastery—and adjust your approach accordingly.

  3. Choosing Worthwhile Books: Prioritize timeless works and texts with enduring insights over fleeting trends and superficial content.

  4. Optimizing Reading Speed: Focus on comprehension and retention over speed. Allow the value of the text to dictate the pace.

  5. The Blank Sheet Method: Before reading, note down what you already know. Post-reading, update this with new insights. This technique primes your brain for learning and consolidates new information.

  6. Conventional Note-Taking: Engage with the text by summarizing chapters, reflecting on content, and connecting ideas to your existing knowledge.

  7. Regular Review: Revisit your notes and summaries to reinforce learning and integrate insights into your worldview.

TL/DR: Transform reading from a passive activity into an active quest for knowledge. Employ selective reading habits, engage deeply with impactful texts, and use strategic note-taking to enhance retention and application. The goal is not merely to read more, but to understand better and apply effectively.

A social cataloging website that allows you to track your reading progress, discover new books, and connect with other readers, helping you find great books worth reading.

What we love: Their book recommendations based on reviews of past books you’ve read.

This tool captures and organizes your highlights from ebooks, articles, and more, making it easier to revisit and integrate the insights from your reading into daily life.

What we love: You can sync to your favorite note-taking apps, such as Evernote or Notion.

💡 Challenge of the week

This week, apply the blank sheet method to a book or long article you're reading. Before starting, jot down what you already know about the subject. After each reading session, add new insights or correct previous misunderstandings. At the end of the week, review your notes and reflect on how your understanding has evolved. Aim to connect these insights to other knowledge areas or your daily life.

We hope these strategies work for you, and you can really retain and leverage the next book you read 📖

The Productivity Blueprint Team