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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5 Alternatives to LinkedIn for Professional Networking Site

8 Alternatives to LinkedIn for All Your Professional Networking Needs

Whether it’s to keep in contact with friends or family to advance your career, you are likely on at least one social network. While Facebook, Twitter,and Google are extremely popular, these platforms might not be able help you professionally. That’s when professional social networking sites come into play. And, there’s one name that instantly jumps out when you mention “professional social networking” – LinkedIn.

LinkedIn has been proven to be more effective than Facebook and Twitter at generating leads, 227% more effective to be exact. And, despite the 225 million registered members, LinkedIn does have some issues. For starters, the site is known to flood your inbox with annoying spam. Even worse than having to get rid of LinkedIn’s persistent junk mail, there’s also allegations that the company hacked into customer’s email addresses.

Even with these problems, most of us join potentially rewarding sites like LinkedIn. But, if you’re not a fan of the most popular professional networking site, then we suggest that you try out one the following eight alternatives.

5. PartnerUp

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The most appealing feature with PartnerUp is how the site focuses on the needs of small business owners and entrepreneurs. There’s also a lot of beneficial articles written by small business owners that could come in handy. The company has now moved to the Google + Communities, but the advice and connections are still there.

4. Meetup

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Meetup is an online social networking portal that facilitates offline group meetings with like-minded people, both professionally and personally, in your area. Known for posting a ton of events, MeetUp is a great tool to network in the really real world.

3. Zerply

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Not only can you post a resume on Zerply, you can actual showcase your work through videos, portfolios or even story boards. The perfect location for creative and talented job seekers and employers.

2. AngelList

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Known primarily as platform for startups, AngelList can connect you with thousands of startups seeking your skills and talent. As a whole, the site is extremely efficient, easy to use and secure.

1. BranchOut

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If you have Facebook, then you might have spotted BranchOut before, it’s only the most popular app for professional networking on Facebook platform. While it resembles LinkedIn, recruiting and job hunting is achieved through Facebook connections, which means no awkward introductions and the ability to tap into any company.

While LinkedIn has proven to be a great resource for finding employment or employees – which is why it’s such an extremely popular site – there are other sites that offer similar, if not better, services. If you’ve used one of these site that were mentioned, or know of one that we’ve neglected, let us know in the comments!

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.

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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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3 Most Common Mental Errors That Sway Us From Making Best Decisions

I like to think of myself as a rational person, but I’m not one. The good news is it’s not just me — or you. We are all irrational, and we all make mental errors.

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For a long time, researchers and economists believed that humans made logical, well-considered decisions. In recent decades, however, researchers have uncovered a wide range of mental errors that derail our thinking. Sometimes we make logical decisions, but there are many times when we make emotional, irrational, and confusing choices.

Psychologists and behavioral researchers love to geek out about these different mental mistakes. There are dozens of them and they all have fancy names like “mere exposure effect” or “narrative fallacy.” But I don’t want to get bogged down in the scientific jargon today. Instead, let’s talk about the mental errors that show up most frequently in our lives and break them down in easy-to-understand language.

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Here are three most common mental errors that sway us from making best decisions.

1. Survivorship Bias.

Nearly every popular online media outlet is filled with survivorship bias these days. Anywhere you see articles with titles like “8 Things Successful People Do Everyday” or “The Best Advice Richard Branson Ever Received” or “How LeBron James Trains in the Off-Season” you are seeing survivorship bias in action.

Survivorship bias refers to our tendency to focus on the winners in a particular area and try to learn from them while completely forgetting about the losers who are employing the same strategy.

There might be thousands of athletes who train in a very similar way to LeBron James, but never made it to the NBA. The problem is nobody hears about the thousands of athletes who never made it to the top. We only hear from the people who survive. We mistakenly overvalue the strategies, tactics, and advice of one survivor while ignoring the fact that the same strategies, tactics, and advice didn’t work for most people.

Another example: “Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg all dropped out of school and became billionaires! You don’t need school to succeed. Entrepreneurs just need to stop wasting time in class and get started.”

It’s entirely possible that Richard Branson succeeded in spite of his path and not because of it. For every Branson, Gates, and Zuckerberg, there are thousands of other entrepreneurs with failed projects, debt-heavy bank accounts, and half-finished degrees. Survivorship bias isn’t merely saying that a strategy may not work well for you, it’s also saying that we don’t really know if the strategy works well at all.

When the winners are remembered and the losers are forgotten it becomes very difficult to say if a particular strategy leads to success.

survivorship bias (Common Mental Errors)

2. Loss Aversion.

Loss aversion refers to our tendency to strongly prefer avoiding losses over acquiring gains. Research has shown that if someone gives you $10 you will experience a small boost in satisfaction, but if you lose $10 you will experience a dramatically higher loss in satisfaction. Yes, the responses are opposite, but they are not equal in magnitude. 

Our tendency to avoid losses causes us to make silly decisions and change our behavior simply to keep the things that we already own. We are wired to feel protective of the things we own and that can lead us to overvalue these items in comparison with the options.

For example, if you buy a new pair of shoes it may provide a small boost in pleasure. However, even if you never wear the shoes, giving them away a few months later might be incredibly painful. You never use them, but for some reason you just can’t stand parting with them. Loss aversion.

Similarly, you might feel a small bit of joy when you breeze through green lights on your way to work, but you will get downright angry when the car in front of you sits at a green light and you miss the opportunity to make it through the intersection. Losing out on the chance to make the light is far more painful than the pleasure of hitting the green light from the beginning.

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3. Confirmation Bias.

The Grandaddy of Them All. Confirmation bias refers to our tendency to search for and favor information that confirms our beliefs while simultaneously ignoring or devaluing information that contradicts our beliefs.

For example, Person A believes climate change is a serious issue and they only search out and read stories about environmental conservation, climate change, and renewable energy. As a result, Person A continues to confirm and support their current beliefs.

Meanwhile, Person B does not believe climate change is a serious issue, and they only search out and read stories that discuss how climate change is a myth, why scientists are incorrect, and how we are all being fooled. As a result, Person B continues to confirm and support their current beliefs.

Changing your mind is harder than it looks. The more you believe you know something, the more you filter and ignore all information to the contrary.

You can extend this thought pattern to nearly any topic. If you just bought a Honda Accord and you believe it is the best car on the market, then you’ll naturally read any article you come across that praises the car. Meanwhile, if another magazine lists a different car as the best pick of the year, you simply dismiss it and assume that the editors of that particular magazine got it wrong or were looking for something different than what you were looking for in a car. 

It is not natural for us to formulate a hypothesis and then test various ways to prove it false. Instead, it is far more likely that we will form one hypothesis, assume it is true, and only seek out and believe information that supports it. Most people don’t want new information, they want validating information.

confirmation bias (Common Mental Errors)

Where to Go From Here

Once you understand some of these common mental errors, your first response might be something along the lines of, “I want to stop this from happening! How can I prevent my brain from doing these things?”

It’s a fair question, but it’s not quite that simple. Rather than thinking of these miscalculations as a signal of a broken brain, it’s better to consider them as evidence that the shortcuts your brain uses aren’t useful in all cases. There are many areas of everyday life where the mental processes mentioned above are incredibly useful. You don’t want to eliminate these thinking mechanisms.

The problem is that our brains are so good at performing these functions — they slip into these patterns so quickly and effortlessly — that we end up using them in situations where they don’t serve us.

In cases like these, self-awareness is often one of our best options. Hopefully this article will help you spot these errors next time you make them.