How to Process What You Read
Not everything I read or hear is worth remembering. But there are some things that I don’t want to forget. How do I remember those lessons?
Through annotating or journaling as I read.
Annotating means “talking with the text” as I read. You may have learned how to do that in school, but you can do it any way that makes sense or is helpful. I personally like journaling my thoughts and integrating my life into the ideas or connecting my own observations with what I am discovering.
I don’t like writing in my books (my personal preference—no judgment if you do!) so I use Evernote (or whatever notetaking app you prefer) to record these thoughts. This does take a little more time but the positive side is that it is searchable later on.
If I don’t have access to the app, I write it down in a spot on my daily planner.
If you’re just starting, you can start by identifying the main points.
But if you really want to make it practical, then I suggest you read the entire chapter or section and force yourself to pick just one idea to highlight. (Too much is overwhelming, but not challenging yourself to pin one down can make your reading less effective.) If you’re listening to a podcast, then write down the one “a-ha” that you hear that would make a difference. If you have multiple ideas, just pick one.
But don’t stop there. Go on to ask:
· Do I agree or disagree? How does it resonate or challenge? Put it into words.
· How would my life change if I take this idea to heart? If an application for the future surfaces, I write it down.
You can do this with any type of learning—a sermon, a thought from a friend, an insight from a walk.
Whenever an insight strikes, however it comes, take a moment and write it down. Start a file or note or page in your planner. Add a date to help you to remember the context.
In a future post, we’ll take this one step further and start applying it.
In the meantime, think about creating a spot to store the things you learn, observe, and think. Not everything will be equally valuable. I usually write down those things that both resonate and intersect with my life and then take them to the next level to process further.
When we do so, we squeeze the most out of what we learn—and then it can begin to impact and change how we live and walk.