Reading is fundamental, but if you don’t feel like you’re retaining much, it’s easy to get frustrated. Check out our favorite techniques for remembering what we read!

If you’ve got a busy schedule (and what entrepreneur doesn’t?), it often takes a conscious effort to sit down and take the time to read. Such a quiet, solitary activity can feel indulgent – especially if you have a full to-do list.

Unfortunately, we sometimes step away from a reading session only to realize we haven’t retained as much of the information as we’d like.

But the good news is, this doesn’t have to be the case! Here are some of our favorite ways to remember what we read.

Clarify Your Purpose Before You Read

Just as you plan your day, you can also plan your reading time. Chances are, you selected your reading material for a very specific reason. Before you begin, ask yourself what exactly you want to learn.

Identify some key points you hope to gain, and focus on those areas as you read. Starting your reading session with a game plan will not only help you be more focused, you’ll also be more likely to retain the information that’s most important to you.

Apply It to Real Life

Whether you’re reading for business or pleasure, one of the best ways to retain information is to apply it to real-life situations. For example, if you’re reading up on best practices for your business, think of ways you can use your new knowledge in your company’s day-to-day operations. Or, if you’re reading a book on self-development, consider how you’ll implement the strategies into your own life.

By personally connecting with the information you’ve read, your retention will improve and you’ll be able to adapt these principles to different situations. There’s no better way to learn a new concept than with real-life application!

Take Notes

The act of writing down what you’re learning can be a great way to commit new ideas to memory. The process requires you to identify and describe key points, so you’ll boost your retention AND create a helpful outline that you can use any time you need a refresher.

Pull out your prettiest notebook and make note-taking fun! You might even want to use different colored pens and highlighters to keep track of important points. (This is a perfect time to make use of your fancy office supplies you’ve been saving.)

Make a habit of writing down your observations or copying important quotes, and you’ll quickly see an improvement in your retention.

We’ve talked a lot about how useful reading can be for learning new things, but reading is about so much more than absorbing new information. In a world where most of us feel like we’re always in motion, reading allows us to stop for a moment.

Whether you’re reading fiction or non-fiction, the quiet solitude of reading is a perfect way to unwind while generating new ideas. Not a bad use of time!

About Emily D. Tisdale, Founder & CEO

Meet the brains — and heart — behind LEAP for Women. Emily is LEAP’s guiding force, committed to supporting women entrepreneurs at every stage in their journey.

She loves LEAP because:

We’re an authentic resource for women who want the nitty-gritty details of running a business. I want everyone to have the same amazing resources I had.

A resident of Indiana, Emily prides herself on being a transplanted Hoosier and enjoys watching Colts football and spending time with her husband and their two children.

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