Reading – Litemind Exploring ways to use our minds efficiently. Mon, 01 Jan 2018 20:43:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How to Learn (Almost) Anything Sun, 08 Mar 2009 20:55:09 +0000 Have you ever read an informative book, only to later remember just a few main points — if anything at all? The problem might be that you’re using one of the least efficient ways of learning available.

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How to Learn (Almost) Anything

This is a guest post by Glen Allsopp of PluginID.

Have you ever read an informative book, only to later remember just a few main points — if anything at all? The problem might be that you’re using one of the least efficient ways of learning available.

The Cone of Learning

I remember back about 7 years ago when I was taking music lessons at school, there was a poster on the wall that really grabbed my attention. To be fair, it wasn’t difficult for a random object to attract your gaze as our Scottish teacher at the time didn’t have much in the way of keeping you interested. The poster outlined the different ways that we remember things and how different activities increase our chances of remembering something over others.

Cone of Learning
Image Credit

After doing some research, I found that the contents of that poster were based upon the work of Edgar Dale back in 1969. Dale looked at the most effective ways of learning by teaching people similar material in different ways and noted the ability to recall the information after the teaching was finished.

Today, many of you may know this as the Cone of Learning, but beware: although the cone is in fact based upon the results of Dale’s research, the percentage figures were never actually cited by Dale, and added by others after the initial investigation.

Even though the Cone of Learning that became widespread contains erroneous figures, it does represent a guideline for the most effective learning techniques that the human brain is able to acquire and store information from.

Based on the research we can see that:

  • The least effective way to learn something is to listen to a lecture on the topic or read information about it.
  • The most effective way to learn something is to teach others and use it in our own lives.

The Cone of Learning suggests why you are more likely to remember parts of a movie than you are from a book on the same topic. A film uses audio and visual aspects that the brain is more likely to store and hold available for recollection (memory).

Learning Almost Anything

After we discard the erroneous percentage figures, we still must take the cone as just a guideline — one which is subject to change depending on the learning style of the student or the studied subject. Different aspects such as what you want to remember and how often you put it into use will greatly impact how well you remember something. That being said, other things equals, the cone is a great guideline to follow to better imprint something to memory.

On that note, I thought it would be a good idea to look at the best ways to use the Cone of Learning concept, and apply it to an everyday example that we can relate to. The example I’m going to use in the following tips is looking at the best methods you could use to learn what yoga is and remember the necessary positions that are used.

  • Give a Lecture. Although receiving a lecture is one of the worst ways to remember what you are being told, giving a lecture is one of the most effective. You could go into any college or university and offer to give a lecture on the topic of yoga and the many positions that are used.
  • Write an Article. If you have a blog or a website you could spend time putting together an article on what yoga is all about and the movements that are often used in this meditative practice. Additionally, you could also create images to be used on the site to help explain the certain actions involved.
  • Make a Video. Even if you don’t have your own blog or website, there are plenty of video portals such as Youtube and Metacafe that will allow you to upload your own videos for free. This will be effective as you can teach in the lecture format but know that you are instructing to a potentially worldwide audience.
  • Discuss with Your Friends. One of the easiest teaching options that you have available to you are the members of your social circle. Wherever appropriate, bring up a topic you would like to discuss and share your wealth of knowledge on it. The more people you can discuss it with the better your ability will be to remember it in the future.
    Additionally, there are literally hundreds of ways you can discuss it online using the likes of online forums, twitter or even niche social networks.
  • Do it Yourself. It’s no use trying your best to teach others about Yoga if it’s something you aren’t interested in and don’t do yourself. If you teach people the importance of controlling their breathing, then when you are performing Yoga in your own time… make sure you are controlling your breathing. Whatever you would teach others, you need to make sure you are implementing yourself.

There are certainly more ways that you could look into teaching others and applying things into your own life. From holding classes in your house to simply creating an audio file of you speaking, see how you can apply teaching about your subject to learn more about a topic.

Exceptions to the Rule

As with most things in life, this isn’t going to apply to every single person, every single time. For example, from my research into this, it is claimed that autistic people are much more likely to learn from visual images rather than trying to teach someone else or do it themselves. Also, I know many people who have a strong preference for auditory learning over visual, for instance.

Additionally, as stated, the figures in the cone are to be used as a guideline, some people will have a high success rate at learning through teaching others while for some it may not be as successful. Generally, look at the ones which are deemed to be the most effective and try the ones which work best for you.

So, what are you going to do to improve your learning now?

About Glen Allsopp

Glen Allsopp writes in order to inspire, awaken and motivate people into being who they want to be and living the life they want to live. You can learn more about him at his Personal Development blog.

(cc) Litemind, some rights reserved. Original post: How to Learn (Almost) Anything.

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How to Recall an Entire Book in 5 Minutes or Less Tue, 14 Aug 2007 14:05:02 +0000 Have you ever read a great book, and after only a short period of time could recall almost nothing from it? It's very frustrating, but there’s a way to avoid forgetting what you have read and, if you do, instantly refresh it in your mind.

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How to Recall an Entire Book in 5 Minutes or Less

Have you ever read a great book, and after only a short period of time could recall just one or two ideas from it? It is very frustrating – and it happens all the time. But there’s a way to avoid forgetting what you have read and, if you do, instantly refresh it in your mind.

Reading Goals, Cheated

The key to reading effectively is to be fully engaged in what you are reading. Underlining, questioning, taking notes – these all help – but there’s one single element that is essential if you want to read effectively: you need to know what your goal is. This is standard advice, and is indeed a good one. But if you want your reading to be truly effective and long-lasting, you need more than simply a goal: you need a very specific and tangible one.

Take, for example, a book such as Getting Things Done. The goal “to get more organized” would be good enough – but just as a generic goal, not as a specific one. A generic goal may be enough to motivate you to start reading a book, but won’t be truly effective by itself to keep you fully involved while reading it. We need something more concrete.

The problem is that we only know the specifics of a book after actually reading it. So what should we do as we want to set a specific goal beforehand? We cheat.

I’ve found that one of the most effective goals to set when reading a book is to commit yourself to create a mind map of it.

This will serve as a specific goal that you can use for any book. Yes, having a “general-purpose specific goal” certainly feels like cheating, but you won’t believe how effective it is. It will really help boosting your reading comprehension; and the best part is that you’ll have a book summary you can revisit at anytime. Contrary to regular book summaries, due to the specific properties of mind maps, you’ll be able to review it at lightning speed, quite often at a single glance.

Top 3 Benefits of Mind Mapping a Book

1. Boost Comprehension While Reading

Being sharply focused on creating such a specific deliverable as a mind map will get you 100% engaged in your reading, guaranteed.

Moreover, every time you reach for your mind map to add more information, you’ll be looking and recalling what’s already in there. In fact, this constant reinforcement works so well, it usually takes months before you need referring to the mind map again.

2. Quickly Review the Entire Book Anytime

This is when mind mapping really shines when compared to other note-taking techniques. It is absolutely amazing what happens when you look at a mind map months or even years after you created it. It is like rereading the entire book in just a glance.

When you first read the book using this method, you did it in such an active manner that by just quickly scanning the mind map brings you all the memories from the book – even the ones you didn’t include in your mind map. In fact, the neural connections formed are so strong that even the emotions you felt at the time often resurface. And with such a personalized and handy summary, you really don’t need more than 5 minutes to review it.

3. Distill the Real Substance of the Book

It is not rare for long books resulting in small mind maps. By creating a mind map, the real content of the book becomes evident. Not everything in a book is straight to the point: authors (validly) use repetition, stories and examples to build and elaborate important points. All you need to do is use standard mind mapping features to reflect that importance: use bold, write your topics in bigger letters or different colors. With your personalized mind map, you’ll be able to trim all fat while keeping the relationships and the relative importance of each topic intact.

Tips to Get Started

Keep the Flow

Avoid reading and creating the mind map simultaneously, as that will disrupt your reading flow. Circle, underline and take notes while reading, pre-selecting the important concepts and passages for your summary. This intermediary step not only keeps you in context and engaged in the book, but also makes it much easier to quickly create your mind map once you read the relevant parts of the book. And by doing this, you’ll have yet another content reinforcement in the process.

Sleep on It

Try not to work on your mind map right after reading the book – let your mind chew on what you have read for a while first. Doing it the next day is a good rule of thumb. If you read every day, a good way of doing it is by working on your mind map for yesterday’s topic right before today’s reading session. Also, try not to get your reading too far ahead of your mind mapping – you’ll lose the benefits of repetitive reinforcement and feel overwhelmed if there’s too much content to add in a single sit.

Use Dual Bookmarking

Instead of using just one bookmark, use an extra one to indicate up to where your book has been mapped. I also recommend using colored Post-it flags, so you won’t need to worry about your second bookmark falling while you’re reading.

Try It

Won’t reading books with this method take much longer than usual? Sure it will – but what’s the point in leafing through several books, only retaining a tiny amount of their content – and only for a short period of time?

If you’re just reading casually and you feel this method is overkill, you are probably right – don’t force yourself to use it, by all means. But if you get your hands on a great book – and there are so many out there – please give mind mapping a try. You won’t regret taking these extra steps to make your books really last in your mind.

To check out a mind map created using this technique, please see One Small Step Can Change Your Life or Never Eat Alone.

(cc) Litemind, some rights reserved. Original post: How to Recall an Entire Book in 5 Minutes or Less.

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5 Reasons to Collect Favorite Quotes Tue, 31 Jul 2007 12:44:18 +0000 Even though many people enjoy famous quotes, few people manage to create their own personal quote catalog. Being a quote collector myself for nearly a decade, I find several benefits in maintaining a personal collection of favorite quotes, famous or otherwise.

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Five Reasons to Collect Favorite Quotes

Quotes are great because they can distill ideas very efficiently.

Even though famous quotes are very popular, few people manage to create their own personal quote catalog. Being a quote collector myself for nearly a decade, I find several benefits in maintaining a personal collection of favorite quotes, famous or otherwise.

1. Instantly Transform your Mood

Quotes have the power to change our mental state very quickly. Just like books or movies, quotes can generate strong emotions, inspire, motivate or make us laugh – with the notable difference that we don’t need to invest hours of our time to experience the desired effect.

It’s very easy to incorporate the reading of quotes in your life if you have your own collection handy. If it is organized in categories, you can have an instant dose of humor or inspiration whenever you like. If you know quotes that have a particularly powerful effect on you, you can also put them in a highly visible place to have your quick fix many times a day.

"I pick my favorite quotations and store them in my mind as ready armor, offensive or defensive, amid the struggle of this turbulent existence." –Robert Burns.

2. Get to Know New Authors

You may already be a quote junkie, but let’s face it: quotes don’t replace good books. ‘Quotes is reading for lazy people’, I once heard. But being exposed to quotes from different or unknown authors can spark your curiosity and make you go read their works. For example, I used to think Einstein was only a genius of physics. It was only after knowing some of his quotes that I had the interest to read his great essays on subjects such as religion, the meaning of life and many others.

"At any rate, I am convinced that He does not play dice." –Albert Einstein.

3. Distill Insights and Communicate Them Effectively

Quotes have the highest wisdom density you can get in a single sentence. Although quotes may seem, in hindsight, obvious observations about reality, the truth is that it requires a lot of insight to be able to to grab those reality bites in such accessible format.

It is very rewarding to find a simple and concise quote that expresses one idea that you already had, but didn’t know how to express it quite well. Moreover, you can use the quote as a shortcut for explaining your own established views to others. Having that easily communicable expression of an idea can be a springboard to start new discussions that wouldn’t happen otherwise.

"The point of quotations is that one can use another’s words to be insulting." –Amanda Cross.

4. Be Known and Know Other People Better

People say you can know someone by the books one reads, or by the friends one has. I would say that a quicker way to know people is by taking a look at the quotes they collect.

Just as it happens with someone’s personal music library, if you read just a few quotes from someone’s quote collection, you can already tell a lot about that person. I bet that if you check some quotes from my own collection in this blog’s sidebar, you can quickly infer what kind of person I am, without having to spend much time having a conversation with me (lucky you!).

There are social websites built around quote collections, where you can, based on your own favorite quotes, get to know like-minded people and get recommendations of new quotes. A good example is the Quotiki website.

"We are the people our parents warned us about." -Jimmy Buffett.

5. Get a Different Perspective

Even more interesting that stumbling upon a quote that expresses something you already know, is to find one that expresses something totally unexpected or contrary to what you know.

An essay, for example, usually builds a point of view step-by-step. If the ideas in that article go against your own point of view, the natural response is to resist them. And since reading an article is a somewhat long activity, your brain has plenty of time to build its internal mental wall. But with a single quote, it’s completely different: you take your brain off-guard. That is great, because it allows your mind to generate brand new thoughts you wouldn’t have otherwise.

“If there’s only one answer, then this must not be a very interesting topic.” -Ron Jeffries.

Start your Quote Collection Now

With the proliferation of websites in recent years, collecting quotes became extremely easy. You just need to be careful not to overwhelm yourself with information. The best strategy is to transform it in a habit – instead of browsing the huge catalogs available online.

I also recommend that you be very selective in adding a quote to your collection: when in doubt, don’t. You may also want to consider doing regular clean sweeps in your database; you only want to see the quotes you consider to be the absolute best there.

Regarding format, try to keep it simple. A simple text file or spreadsheet will do it.

If you don’t mind having it hosted by a third-party, you can use a website (see below). You get the benefits of universal access, tagging and social interaction – all very nice. I am totally in favor of using online services – the only reason I don’t currently maintain my own catalog in such services is that I couldn’t yet find any with export functionality. When I do, I will certainly take my database online. Call me old-fashioned, but I still need to own my data to feel comfortable – especially a database that takes decades to build.

Where to Get Quotes

You can find good quotes everywhere – all you need is to go look for them. If you’re serious about growing your collection, I highly recommend quotations websites. I suggest you pay them a visit and see what you like most. I particularly recommend you use the ones that provide RSS feeds. Feeds are a great way to get quotes since you don’t actively spend time browsing thousands and thousands of pages (if you are not into RSS feeds, most websites provide some sort of daily e-mail functionality, too).

Most of the quotes I get nowadays are from:

These give me some good ones often enough. Other quote sites that are definitely worth a visit are:

  • Wikiquote – It’s the Wikipedia branch for quotes. That speaks for itself, doesn’t it?
  • Quotiki – It’s sort of a social site built around quotes. You can get to know other people based on preferences and find out similar quotes to the ones you have.
  • ThinkExist – Yet another quote site with nice features such as a great search engine, daily e-mail and quote ratings.

In case you’re interested, I created a page sharing my entire personal collection – it currently has more than 400 of the best quotes I’ve come across so far.

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