Last week, I watched a Netflix documentary, “Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates,” where he explained why and how he takes solo ‘think weeks’ in a cabin in the woods. Tucked away in his private two-story house in the Pacific Northwest, Gates spends the week utterly secluded from civilization– alone with his thoughts. To completely utilize his alone time, he does a lot of reading, a lot of thinking, and a lot of alone time, as he is completely disconnected from family, friends, and peers.
″I would literally take boxes out to a beach place and sit there for a week reading them day and night and scribbling on them to putting it entirely online,” — Gates said in a 2008 video of Microsoft’s CEO Summit.
So, why he moves away from everyone?
Well, the answer is quite straightforward — “People forget what they read. Hence, everyone needs an unabridged concentration.” What advantage would it have if you don’t elevate your life? You can read 52 books a year without changing at all.
As per the famous American philosopher and educator Mortimer Adler:
“The person who says he knows what he thinks but cannot express it usually does not know what he thinks.”
Hence, every reader must apply what they’ve read and must first remember what they learned. For that, everyone needs their own tricks to retain that knowledge.
Lost Between Words
If you are a bibliophile, you would agree that if someone is not an avid reader, they can easily get lost in the middle of a long article. Losing concentration doesn’t only arouse a very negative feeling of self-doubt but causes anxiety as well. Now, neither that reader can go back to the start nor finish reading the whole article. The latter decision won’t even make sense since he lost the main context written in that article's middle.
So what is the best way not to lose yourself in the reading maze?
Solution? “The Feynman Technique”
I was really impressed by this reading model, used for teaching and communication to remember what we just read. It says:
1. Take out a blank sheet of paper.
2. At the top write the subject you want to learn.
3. Write out an idea from start to finish in simple language that a child can understand.
By this, you force yourself to understand the concept deeper and simplify relationships and connections between ideas.
Watch more details about it on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_f-qkGJBPts.
But to follow this reading technique, two fundamental questions come up:
- How can we understand what we are reading? Are there any key elements to focus on?
- How to jot down the gist of an article and use that knowledge for the future?
Basically, How Can You Remember What You Read?
With my own learning experiences, I came up with four basic questions that you need to focus on while reading any article (for which you don’t even know the basics). Below are those 4 golden questions:
- What “event” is happening in the article?
- What are the locations mentioned?
- Who are the main members of it?
- What’s the writer’s opinion about the paragraph/ article. (Usually, it’s either at the starting or the end of it.)
Let's understand it with an example.
I picked a news article from an Indian news channel, “Hindustan Times.”
“At least four people have been reported dead, according to latest reports, as supporters of President Donald Trump stormed US Capitol on Wednesday afternoon, overpowered security personnel to reach deep inside the building, forced lawmakers to shelter in place under desks and rooms, and brought to a halt a critical constitutional procedure that had just got underway to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory.”
Now, if we break this paragraph into our four golden questions, what answers do we get?
- What event is happening in this article?
Ans: Certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory.
- What is the location where the article is being referred to?
Ans: US Capitol.
- Who are the critical members mentioned?
Ans: Supporters of President Donald Trump, lawmakers and President-elect Joe Biden.
- What’s the writer’s opinion about the article. It will be either at starting or at the end.
Ans: Supporters overpowered security personnel.
Now, if you’ll reread the paragraph, you’ll definitely find out these keywords. Moreover, you can now summarize it.
Since you successfully found out and analyzed it, you can now synthesize this news in your own words and can explain it to 12 years old anywhere, anytime.
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