5 Best Ways to Retain More the Book You Read

There are many benefits to reading more books, but perhaps my favorite is this: A good book can give you a new way to interpret your past experiences.

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Whenever you learn a new mental model or idea, it’s like the “software” in your brain gets updated. Suddenly, you can run all of your old data points through a new program. You can learn new lessons from old moments. As Patrick O’Shaughnessy says, “Reading changes the past.”

Of course, this is only true if you internalize and remember insights from the books you read. Knowledge will only compound if it is retained. In other words, what matters is not simply reading more books, but getting more out of each book you read.

Gaining knowledge is not the only reason to read, of course. Reading for pleasure or entertainment can be a wonderful use of time, but this article is about reading to learn. With that in mind, I’d like to share some of the best reading comprehension strategies I’ve found.

1. Quit More Books

It doesn’t take long to figure out if something is worth reading. Skilled writing and high-quality ideas stick out.

As a result, most people should probably start more books than they do. This doesn’t mean you need to read each book page-by-page. You can skim the table of contents, chapter titles, and subheadings. Pick an interesting section and dive in for a few pages. Maybe flip through the book and glance at any bolded points or tables. In ten minutes, you’ll have a reasonable idea of how good it is.

Then comes the crucial step: Quit books quickly and without guilt or shame.

Life is too short to waste it on average books. The opportunity cost is too high. There are so many amazing things to read. I think Patrick Collison, the founder of Stripe, put it nicely when he said, “Life is too short to not read the very best book you know of right now.”

Here’s my recommendation:

Start more books. Quit most of them. Read the great ones twice.

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2. Choose Books You Can Use Instantly

One way to improve reading comprehension is to choose books you can immediately apply. Putting the ideas you read into action is one of the best ways to secure them in your mind. Practice is a very effective form of learning.

Choosing a book that you can use also provides a strong incentive to pay attention and remember the material. That’s particularly true when something important hangs in the balance. If you’re starting a business, for example, then you have a lot of motivation to get everything you can out of the sales book you’re reading. Similarly, someone who works in biology might read The Origin of Species more carefully than a random reader because it connects directly to their daily work. 

Of course, not every book is a practical, how-to guide that you can apply immediately, and that’s fine. You can find wisdom in many different books. But I do find that I’m more likely to remember books that are relevant to my daily life.

3. Create Searchable Notes

Keep notes on what you read. You can do this however you like. It doesn’t need to be a big production or a complicated system. Just do something to emphasize the important points and passages.

I do this in different ways depending on the format I’m consuming. I highlight passages when reading on Kindle. I type out interesting quotes as I listen to audiobooks. I dog-ear pages and transcribe notes when reading a print book.

But here’s the real key: store your notes in a searchable format.

There is no need to leave the task of reading comprehension solely up to your memory. I keep my notes in Evernote. I prefer Evernote over other options because 1) it is instantly searchable, 2) it is easy to use across multiple devices, and 3) you can create and save notes even when you’re not connected to the internet.

I get my notes into Evernote in three ways:

I. Audiobook: I create a new Evernote file for each book and then type my notes directly into that file as I listen.

II. Ebook: I highlight passages on my Kindle Paperwhite and use a program called Clippings to export all of my Kindle highlights directly into Evernote. Then, I add a summary of the book and any additional thoughts before posting it to my book summaries page.

III. Print: Similar to my audiobook strategy, I type my notes as I read. If I come across a longer passage I want to transcribe, I place the book on a book stand as I type. (Typing notes while reading a print book can be annoying because you are always putting the book down and picking it back up, but this is the best solution I’ve found.)

Of course, your notes don’t have to be digital to be “searchable.” For example, you can use Post-It Notes to tag certain pages for future reference. As another option, Ryan Holiday suggests storing each note on an index card and categorizing them by the topic or book.

The core idea is the same: Keeping searchable notes is essential for returning to ideas easily. An idea is only useful if you can find it when you need it.

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4. Combine Knowledge Trees

One way to imagine a book is like a knowledge tree with a few fundamental concepts forming the trunk and the details forming the branches. You can learn more and improve reading comprehension by “linking branches” and integrating your current book with other knowledge trees.

For example:

  • While reading The Tell-Tale Brain by neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran, I discovered that one of his key points connected to a previous idea I learned from social work researcher Brené Brown.
  • In my notes for The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, I noted how Mark Manson’s idea of “killing yourself” overlaps with Paul Graham’s essay on keeping your identity small.
  • As I read Mastery by George Leonard, I realized that while this book was about the process of improvement, it also shed some light on the connection between genetics and performance.

I added each insight to my notes for that particular book.

Connections like these help you remember what you read by “hooking” new information onto concepts and ideas you already understand. As Charlie Munger says, “If you get into the mental habit of relating what you’re reading to the basic structure of the underlying ideas being demonstrated, you gradually accumulate some wisdom.”

When you read something that reminds you of another topic or immediately sparks a connection or idea, don’t allow that thought to come and go without notice. Write about what you’ve learned and how it connects to other ideas.

5. Write a Short Summary

As soon as I finish a book, I challenge myself to summarize the entire text in just three sentences. This constraint is just a game, of course, but it forces me to consider what was really important about the book.

Some questions I consider when summarizing a book include:

  • What are the main ideas?
  • If I implemented one idea from this book right now, which one would it be?
  • How would I describe the book to a friend?

In many cases, I find that I can usually get just as much useful information from reading my one-paragraph summary and reviewing my notes as I would if I read the entire book again. 

If you feel like you can’t squeeze the whole book into three sentences, consider using the Feynman Technique.

The Feynman Technique is a note-taking strategy named after the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman. It’s pretty simple: Write the name of the book at the top of a blank sheet of paper, then write down how you’d explain the book to someone who had never heard of it.

If you find yourself stuck or if you see that there are holes in your understanding, review your notes or go back to the text and try again. Keep writing it out until you have a good handle on the main ideas and feel confident in your explanation.

I’ve found that almost nothing reveals gaps in my thinking better than writing about an idea as if I am explaining it to a beginner. Ben Carlson, a financial analyst, says something similar, “I find the best way to figure out what I’ve learned from a book is to write something about it.”

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Domain Names And Web Hosting Are the Same Thing?

Ready to start a website? Great! Are you thinking that web hosting is the same thing as a domain name. Wrong. It is easy to get confused between web hosting and domain name and think that they refer to the same thing. Web hosting is the place where your website and all its files are stored, a server. Whereas, a domain name is the actual name of your website like facebook.com, amazon.com. In layman terms, domain name is actually the name of the house that you live in and web host is the actual house. Can you have a website without either? No. That is why they go hand in hand with each other. Let’s dig a bit deeper into domains.

web hosting 101

What are Domains? We have all heard about IP addresses. They are series of numbers which are used to refer to a website. However, who is going to type or remember the long series of numbers.

That is where domain names come in. A website owner registers a domain name which is then used to route to the particular IP address of the website. It is essentially a pointer, and means nothing on its own.

Together or Separately:  Should you buy the domain name and web hosting from different companies or one? Many web hosting websites also provide you with an option to register a domain with them but not all of them.

  • If you buy it from different companies, you will need to edit the DNS settings of your domain name to point it to your website. You need to keep the login details for your account safe.
  • Buying from one company is convenient and easier to manage and no need to change any settings. It does not mean that if you decide to move web hosting, you will need a new domain name. You own the domain name and will just need to transfer it.

How To Choose A Domain: There are numerous articles detailing how to go about selecting a web hosting site for your business, but fewer details when it comes to choosing a domain name. It is extremely important to pay attention to it because it will be your online identity. Here are some tips to make sure you buy the right domain name:

  • Do Your Research: Before jumping ahead and buying whatever came to your mind, do you homework a bit. Look at your competitors sites and see what names are available.
  • Make it Your Brand: Try not to use the name of your product in the domain name rather any other associative word. Do not use very common words that people forget or mix it up with your competitors. The name should be easy to remember and not include difficult spellings.
  • Make it brief: The shorter your domain name is, the more user friendly and easier to remember. But do not use a generic name. Try not to use slang or using numbers in the name.
  • Check Social media: Make sure that the domain name you have used is not already in use as a Facebook page name or twitter handle.

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4 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Seeking Funding For Startup

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Seeking financing for your startup is one of the most daunting tasks faced by budding entrepreneurs. The world is littered with examples of failed startups. Most of the times, the root cause of this is one thing: Money. If you are about to embark on the self-rewarding journey of setting up your own startup, learn the lesson by not making the following same mistakes made by countless before you.

  1. Inadequate Market Research: You have an idea for a product or service which you think is brilliant and will be a game changer. Most of the times, startups are too attached with their idea, understandably so since it is their baby. However, before embarking on this journey make do these things:
  • Research if there is even a market for the product.
  • Not understanding the need of the customers. Your product needs to solve problems of people.
  • Do small market test runs with product to guide product development the right way.
  1. Giving Up Too Much Control: In the initial days when despite so many efforts, startups see no money tickling their way, they tend to get desperate. Most of the investors in early stages of finance want to have a stake in the equity of the company in return for their money.

Startup needs to realize that they will need investing in more than one stage thus it is important not to give too much equity in the beginning. Giving up too much control can end up making you a minority shareholder later on.

  1. Raising Too Much or Too Little Money: Too much or too little of anything is never good. It is important to understand exactly how much capital you are going to need at every stage of your startup by doing thorough valuation and analysis.
  • Having too much does give you some cushion, but money does not come free. With too much money at hand, you might be tempted to make decisions for which the startup is not ready.
  • Some startups play it safe by asking for too little money. This can also be a recipe for disaster, as you will run out of money soon. And will need to go through the entire process again, letting the investors know that you did not plan right.
  1. Targeting the Wrong Investors: Do not waste your time trying to get investment from a firm who has no history of lending to your industry or for startup financing. Or going to an investor who already has an investment in your competitor. Try to get investors, who also bring something to the table other than just money, it can be in the form of recruitment or product development or simple mentoring.

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Time to Kick These Common 3 SEO Myths

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Search engine optimization has been around since ages and is constantly changing. It is as relevant today as it was before and always keep the marketers and SEO strategist adopting. Despite its importance, business owners usually have certain misconceptions about SEO and the role it plays. Down below are some of the most common myths about SEO and why they are just that, myths and nothing more.

  1. They are Clickbait: One of the most prevalent myth is that SEO is just click baiting and nothing else. Coming up with keywords that your intended user associates with is just one step of the bigger picture in the SEO process. Proper SEO makes the user experience better by:
    • Making content that is more easily discovered
    • Structuring data
    • Optimizing website for mobile & social media use
    • Reaching the right audience

Unfortunately, some of the smaller naïve businesses have been taken for a ride by others who promised that their website will be ranked #1 for $xx. Of course, there is not such short cut for SEO and now they think SEO is just a fraud. SEO requires hard work and effort in order to be effective.

  1. Blogs are Essential for SEO: Some people associate SEO with blog writing and believe that blogs are the actual essence of it. A blog will not magically make your website appear higher on the search ranks or make more people look you up.

A blog can be a great way to further strengthen your website and augment your SEO friendly content if you already have a strong website presence. If your business is new, no one is going to be interested in your blog.

You should use blogs when:

  • You have little competition
  • Have an established website (check domain authority score)
  • Write blogs on external websites
  • If you must write blogs for your new business, use Facebook to promote them
  1. Link building is Bad: People either think that link building is dead or view it as something where more is merrier. Not all link building is equal and quality and not quantity, matter when it comes to link building. Linking through Twitter or Facebook or some unknown websites is actually bad but a mention in a reputable website can do wonders for your SEO results.

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How to Unlock Our Hidden Master Creativity Genius

Read this guide and discover the creative strategies of the greatest artists, musicians, and writers in the world—Pablo Picasso, Franz Kafka, Dr. Seuss and many more.

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The full guide is packed with 36 pages of information on how creativity works, how to overcome the mental blocks that all artists face, and how to make creative thinking a habit.

For instant access, just enter your email address and click “Get Updates!” You’ll get immediate access to the guide, plus you’ll receive new articles every Monday and Thursday about boosting your creativity, mastering your habits, and living a good life.

Don’t see a signup form? Send me a message here and I’ll add you right away.

This page pulls together my most essential information about creativity. I’ll share how creativity works, how to find your hidden creative genius, and how to create meaningful work by learning how to make creative thinking a habit. I’ve tried to present the basics of everything you need to know to start mastering creativity, even if you don’t have much time.

At the end of this page, you’ll find a complete list of all the articles I have written on creativity.
creative-process

What is Creativity?
Let’s define creativity.

The creative process is the act of making new connections between old ideas or recognizing relationships between concepts. Creative thinking is not about generating something new from a blank slate, but rather about taking what is already present and combining those bits and pieces in a way that has not been done previously.

Young believed the process of creative connection always occurred in five steps.

The Creative Process
Gather new material. At first, you learn. During this stage you focus on 1) learning specific material directly related to your task and 2) learning general material by becoming fascinated with a wide range of concepts.
Thoroughly work over the materials in your mind. During this stage, you examine what you have learned by looking at the facts from different angles and experimenting with fitting various ideas together.
Step away from the problem. Next, you put the problem completely out of your mind and go do something else that excites you and energizes you.
Let your idea return to you. At some point, but only after you have stopped thinking about it, your idea will come back to you with a flash of insight and renewed energy.
Shape and develop your idea based on feedback. For any idea to succeed, you must release it out into the world, submit it to criticism, and adapt it as needed.
Read more: For a More Creative Brain, Follow These 5 Steps

Is There Such a Thing as ‘Naturally Creative’?
While we often think of creativity as an event or as a natural skill that some people have and some don’t, research actually suggests that both creativity and non-creativity are learned.

According to psychology professor Barbara Kerr, “approximately 22 percent of the variance [in creativity] is due to the influence of genes.” This discovery was made by studying the differences in creative thinking between sets of twins.

All of this to say, claiming that “I’m just not the creative type” is a pretty weak excuse for avoiding creative thinking. Certainly, some people are primed to be more creative than others. However, nearly every person is born with some level of creative skill and the majority of our creative thinking abilities are trainable.

Read more: Creativity Is a Process, Not an Event

3 Lessons on Creativity from Famous Creators
The 15-Minute Routine Anthony Trollope Used to Write 40+ Books: Beginning with his first novel in 1847, Anthony Trollope wrote at an incredible pace. Over the next 38 years, he published 47 novels, 18 works of non-fiction, 12 short stories, 2 plays, and an assortment of articles and letters. Let’s break down why Trollope’s simple strategy allowed the author to be so productive and how we can use it in our own lives.

How Creative Geniuses Come Up With Great Ideas: Best-selling author Markus Zusak estimated that he rewrote the first part of his popular book “The Book Thief” 150 to 200 times. His work ethic and dedication tell us something crucial about how creative geniuses come up with great ideas.
You can also check out creativity articles about Albert Einstein, Martha Graham, George R.R. Martin, and Maya Angelou.

How to Be Creative
Step 1: Give yourself permission to create junk
In any creative endeavor, you have to give yourself permission to create junk. There is no way around it. Sometimes you have to write 4 terrible pages just to discover that you wrote one good sentence in the second paragraph of the third page.

Creating something useful and compelling is like being a gold miner. You have to sift through pounds of dirt and rock and silt just to find a speck of gold in the middle of it all. Bits and pieces of genius will find their way to you, if you give yourself permission to let the muse flow.

Step 2: Create on a schedule
No single act will uncover more creative genius than forcing yourself to create consistently. Practicing your craft over and over is the only way to become decent at it. The person who sits around theorizing about what a best-selling book looks like will never write it. Meanwhile, the writer who shows up every day and puts their butt in the chair and their hands on the keyboard — they are learning how to do the work.

If you want to do your best creative work, then don’t leave it up to choice. Don’t wake up in the morning and think, “I hope I feel inspired to create something today.” You need to take the decision-making out of it. Set a schedule for your work. Genius arrives when you show up enough times to get the average ideas out of the way.

Step 3: Stop judging your own work
Everyone struggles to create great art. Even great artists.

Anyone who creates something on a consistent basis will begin to judge their own work. I write new articles every Monday and Thursday. After sticking to that publishing schedule for three months, I began to judge everything I created. I was convinced that I had gone through every decent idea I had available. My most popular article came 8 months later.

It is natural to judge your work. It is natural to feel disappointed that your creation isn’t as wonderful as you hoped it would be, or that you’re not getting any better at your craft. But the key is to not let your discontent prevent you from continuing to do the work.

You have to practice enough self-compassion to not let self-judgement take over. Sure, you care about your work, but don’t get so serious about it that you can’t laugh off your mistakes and continue to produce the thing you love. Don’t let judgment prevent delivery.

Step 4: Hold yourself accountable
Share your work publicly. It will hold you accountable to creating your best work. It will provide feedback for doing better work. And when you see others connect with what you create, it will inspire you and make you care more.

Sometimes sharing your work means you have to deal with haters and critics. But more often than not, the only thing that happens is that you rally the people who believe the same things you believe, are excited about the same things you are excited about, or who support the work that you believe in — who wouldn’t want that?

The world needs people who put creative work out into the world. What seems simple to you is often brilliant to someone else. But you’ll never know that unless you choose to share.

How to Find Your Creative Genius
Finding your creative genius is easy: do the work, finish something, get feedback, find ways to improve, show up again tomorrow. Repeat for ten years. Or twenty. Or thirty.

Inspiration only reveals itself after perspiration.

Best Creativity Books

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp
The Art of Possibility by Benjamin Zander and Rosamund Stone Zander
Ignore Everybody: And 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh MacLeod

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