Scientific Secrets To Remembering More Of What You Learn
Would you like to remember much more of what you learn?
In this email, I share a powerful trick to remembering more of what you learn that’s backed by science…
In the late 19th century German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus wondered if it was possible to train your brain to remember more and learn things quicker.
So he decided to carry out some pioneering memory experiments to understand how memory works.
Like many pioneers of new knowledge, he made himself the test subject.
He arranged his experiment into 3 phases…
The Learning Phase:
He memorized a list of random 3 letter nonsense syllables such as:
ERY, DDY, RPE, RHE, NIE, QIR, XHI, HMQ, TXP
He memorized the list until he could recall it perfectly twice.
Then he entered the…
The Forgetting Phase:
This phase was easy. He didn’t have to do anything just wait for a period of time to pass so he could test himself again.
Finally, it was time to enter the…
The Testing Phase:
After an amount of time had passed he tested himself to see how many trigrams he could recall and wrote down his findings.
He repeated this process many times and kept detailed notes varying time intervals, number of exposures to the list etc.
Here’s what he discovered:
Forgetting is NOT a linear process.
Most of the forgetting happens immediately after you have studied something or been exposed to it in training if no effort is made to retain it.
But he didn’t stop there.
Ebbinghaus discovered there is a tremendous saving in the learning time when you re-expose yourself to material more than once and within a short time frame from first learning it.
Even when he waited days to restudy his trigram list, he was quickly able to get back to perfect recall he had when he first memorized the list.
Scientists have since repeated these experiments with a wide variety of information and produced similar findings.
Ebbinghaus discovered one more really important thing.
He repeated the process above, but this time he made the effort to retain it by repeating the memorization process at various time intervals and tracked what impact this had on forgetting.
The results are remarkable.
The rate at which forgetting occurs slows GREATLY.
If you make the effort to restudy material you want to remember for the long term - in frequently short intervals after exposure - you greatly improve your ability to remember and retain that information.
Even very brief review of material is enough to re-imprint the information in your brain and slow down the forgetting function.
Multiple exposures increase memory retention.
Say you want to learn something deeply:
Do the following:
• Review your notes as soon as possible after the training.
• Review a few hours later.
• Then review a day later.
• Then two days later.
• Then four days
• Then a week later.
• Then a fortnight.
• Then every couple of months.
The first review will be the longest but each successive review decreases in length of time to the point where you can absorb enormous amounts of information in minutes and maintain a very high retention rate.
In one of my consulting roles that involved mastering huge amounts of knowledge in a short period of time, I used this process.
Digesting thousand-page books in days or weeks. Then summarizing (basically setting up visual anchors) of the key material and relationships on a one to two-page mindmap.
I then reviewed those mind maps at various intervals similar to above. To this day I have retained a high level of knowledge.
As NLPers the same applies to skills too - our brains do well at compressing the learning when we create focused short bursts of practice with breaks in-between.
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