5 Simple Tips To Learn Much More From The Books You Read

If there’s one habit that almost all high-performers share, it’s that they read books. A lot of books. Books truly hold the power to accelerate your personal growth and take your life to the next level. I have to admit, without the business and self-help section of Amazon I wouldn’t be where I am today.

However, there is something very important that most people get wrong when it comes to reading. You see, it’s not really about how many books you read, it’s about how you read them. It’s quality over quantity.

The truth is, most people read in a very ineffective way, without even realizing it. They forget most of what they read and only retain a small part of the valuable lessons that their books contain. Most people focus more on the number of books instead of how much knowledge they actually retain and implement per book they read. And that’s a shame, as they could get so much more out of a book by applying just a few simple tips..

Tip 1: Highlight Important Sentences and Paragraphs

By highlighting something, you tell your brain that it should pay attention to that particular segment and therefore you tend to remember it better. Personally, I highlight every single useful piece of advice that I come across. This way, I’m forced to take a few seconds to really analyze the lesson or piece of advice and let it fully sink in.

If you just rush through the book without highlighting or giving yourself a break to let the information sink in, you simply won’t remember a lot of what you’ve read. You could as well be doing something different with your time.

Tip 2: Take Notes Of The Most Valuable Lessons

Besides highlighting important sentences and paragraphs, I noticed that actually writing down the most valuable lessons (in my own words) is one of the best ways to memorize and internalize the information.

I don’t just blindly copy the exact sentences as it’s written by the author. Rather, I try to write it in my own words so that I really make sure I understand the information and that I can relate it to my own personal situation.

For my note-taking process, I prefer to use SmartMarks as they’re easy to use and you can conveniently put them between your book. This way you’ll never lose your notes or forget to take them with you (which used to happen to me all the time before I started using SmartMarks).

In my opinion, taking notes and re-writing the most valuable lessons in your own words is key in accelerating your personal growth. Yes, it may take some time, but it’s definitely worth going the extra mile as you’ll retain a lot more knowledge this way.

Tip 3: Summarize The Entire Book

Based on the highlights and the notes that I gathered, I create a summary of the book. I make sure this summary is crafted in such a way that I can easily link the lessons to my own situation. Of course, I won’t summarize every single chapter that I read, as that would be a waste of time. Instead, I base my summary on the lessons and insights that I found to be highly important (aka, the ones I highlighted and written down in my notes).

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

Yes, this takes about an hour of extra work, but the time investment is well worth it. Firstly, by making a summary of a book you retain much more of the knowledge, as you go over the most important lessons once again. Secondly, by making a summary you create an awesome tool that helps you access information about a specific topic very quickly. For example, instead of flipping through the entire book (which is often not even possible as I work remotely), I now only have to open the book summary on Google Drive and search for the keywords that I’m looking for. This way, I can easily gather information for when I’m writing a new blogpost or book, or for when I need to solve a challenging business problem. So, although it may take me about an hour to summarize the entire book, I save much more time in the long run because of it.

Tip 4: Recap Every Chapter

After reading a chapter, don’t just quickly rush to the next chapter or put the book away. Instead, take anywhere from 1–5 minutes to recap the chapter (in your mind) you just read. This way, you’ll make sure you process the information much more effectively. If you go to the next chapter too quickly — or if you pick up another activity right after reading a chapter, it’s very likely that you won’t remember a lot about what you’ve just learned. Your brain needs a little while to put all the information in the right place, and taking just a few minutes to recap the last chapter will help you do so.

Tip 5: Take Action On The Material

This is by far the most important tip that I can give you when it comes to learning more and accelerating your personal growth as fast as possible. It truly surprises me how many people just read a book and then never take action on it (or only just a tiny bit).

Though I must admit, that’s also what I did at the beginning of my personal development journey. I read many books about anything from success habits to building an online business, and I would feel amazing because of all this ‘knowledge’ I had gained. Yet, in reality, I was still broke and I didn’t achieve any of the goals that I had set for myself (not even close). I was a knowledge junkie who merely consumed, consumed and consumed. I thought more knowledge would be the answer to my problems, but it definitely wasn’t.

Yes, this is actually me.

Do you know what was the answer? More action. Instead of being a knowledge junkie, I decided to become an action junkie and actually take action upon all the valuable lessons that I gained. Only after I made that decision did I start to see real results, progress and growth. I actually achieved some of the goals I had set for myself, and I felt a lot more confident and knowledgable as I actually knew how things worked in reality — and not just in theory.

Keep in mind, authors put months, years or even a lifetime of experience into just 200–300 pages..

What would be possible for you and your life if you actually started to do what the author said?
What would be possible if you’d actually do the exercises that 90% of readers skip?
And if you’d actually follow the advice and tactics of the author?

Well, if it’s a good book and a credible author, you could actually start to achieve amazing things in life. And that’s what I want for you.

If you like to read a lot of books, but hardly take action upon the things you read, I’d highly encourage you to make a list of 1–10 actions that you’re going to take based on the book that you’re currently reading. That’s exactly why I designed my own book ‘Stop Procrastinating’ in such a way that it is action focused. At the end of every chapter, I encourage you to take action upon the things you’ve just read so that you actually make progress and achieve more.

Remember, only by taking action will you be able to see the results that you desire — and make your goals and dreams a reality instead of keeping it a fantasy.

Now Do It

As an action point, implement at least 3 of the tips of this article with the book that you’re currently reading. Highlight the important lessons, make notes and re-write them in your own words, summarize the book, mentally recap each chapter and (last but not least) take massive action upon the lessons you’ve learned. That’s the way you’ll learn much more from the books that you read :)

To Your Personal Growth,

Jari Roomer

Founder Personal Growth Lab

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