5 Things To Always Do When Reading New Content

If you’re like me, you’ve probably ran into a growing feedback loop of constant “listicle” checking and mind dumping. Tell me if the following hasn’t gone through your head before.

“Oh what an interesting article here” — *Skims headers* — *Clap*
“Wow, an article with a fancy headline! I’ll read this material later.” — *Bookmark* — *Saved*
“Whoa, what a controversial and weird topic.” — *Skim key points* — *Clap*
“Okay, interesting read (or) a somewhat okay blog post there” — *Like*

Sound familiar? If not then you probably have figured out what I’m about to share with you. But if you’re just like me, then continue to read on.

I realized I was in a rut when I caught myself doing this every time I consume an article or blog post. I was left with over a hundred unread or forgotten content and was backed up in bookmarked pages and logged links. It wasn’t until I decided to do what I called a “content cleanse”, that I had to do something with the material I’ve read or collected. So I compiled a framework that got me from thinking “I read that”…to “I live that”.

Don’t Type, Write

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Okay, you don’t need to obey this strictly, because typing things out certainly has its perks. The gist here is that, whenever we type notes, we tend to just copy and paste, and jot down things word for word, or paste links/images to create a sense that we understood the concept that we took in. This way of taking notes however doesn’t improve the quality of our understanding. Students who write their notes down are better at grasping what teachers share in their classes. Handwriting and typing require different cognitive processing to bebe able to understand and reflect on the key concepts.

Take time to really write down what stood out to you, and what you thought was interesting, important, and impactful. When writing down important elements from content, you’ll want to really understand the message, and a couple of bullets you identified that highlighted that message.

Ask Yourself “Why”…and Write it Down Too

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Why are you reading this? Why did this tidbit of information catch your eye? What resonated with this piece of content that you wanted to dive deeper into it and learn something? How is this entertaining or educating you?

Keep questions like these in mind and write it down too, so you create a more purpose-driven process of consuming content. Answering these questions later on gives yourself opportunities to reflect on the concepts to its full extent.

Cite Sources From Every Author/Writer + Give Credit

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Citing a source means that you show, within the body of your text, that you took words, ideas, figures, images, etc. from another place. In an article by Neeraja Sankaran, she notes the 6 main reasons below why citing sources is important for someone are an important part in learning more about the content you consume.

1. Attribution serves as a fact-checking tool.
2. Citation makes you a better researcher.
3. Good citation practices make you a better writer.
4. A good bibliography shows off your scientific knowledge.
5. Careful citation practices will build your credibility as a scientist or scholar.
6. Citation enables better verification of your work.

This is a no brainer, but I’m sure many people forget to do this regularly. In order to build your skills and learn from what you read or watch, it’s important to look back at the people who’ve developed these materials and give credit where it’s due.

Give a Compliment or Critique

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Developing relationships, even through online media, all starts with a simple response to indicate the impact it has made in your life. One day, you may or may meet these people who create these forms of content, so you want to be able to add on to their work as they have for you, even if you disagree or don’t understand fully their message.

Share, like, retweet, repost, etc. This is a necessary step for any content you consume. You’ve basically given a part of your time, space and mind to the the creator behind those words or video from the device in front of you. Good or bad, they’ve given you true insight into some knowledge in the world through their work. The universe was meant to be responded to, not meant to be idly lived in.

“Apply Them, or Compile Them”

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Lastly, take note with what you read from the paper you wrote it on, really stick it in your head, and apply it in your daily life. Do a test run and see what works. Habits determine success.

Or…if you don’t think you’re going to apply it, but the content was worth reading and sharing, save it somewhere! Organize the name, topic, and author of the content you’ve taken in into a special collection where you can easily find it and share it somewhere else. Keep it in binders or folders you have on hand. For typed materials, I prefer creating Bookmark folders, or clipping certain elements with Evernote.

It’s either apply or compile, because once you read it, you must apply it to your life for it to have impact OR save it and share it with others in your own content in the future so that they might do the same.

And then the cycle continues…

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