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Tactics to help consume and enrich content


Capture everything

In the same vein as what was introduced in the section Unload your brain, the first step consists in capturing information so as to record it somewhere and go back to it later.

This step is crucial for you not to lose focus.

The difference with what was introduced earlier is that the item to capture is not a coming from your brain (a thought, idea etc.) but from a web page for example.

You can review these links and notes weekly, schedule them for consumption, and maybe even add additional context to what you might want to do with them.

Make sure you review them as regularly as possible so as not to build up a massive list of unconsumed content, which will likely be demotivating.

Flow notes

Flow-based note-taking is one of the best ways to consume content, and it is popular because it is practical and straightforward for most people.

So how do flow notes come into the picture here? It is simple. Keep an empty sheet of paper at your desk to note down identifying information about the content you find interesting.

Once you have noted down content on that page, regularly revisit that page to see if some themes/subjects are a focus for you. If yes, explore more on those subjects or ideas.

If some idea doesn't get along with any other theme or subject matter from your list, re-evaluate its value and assess if it will move the needle for you or your career.

The biggest drawback here is having a sheet of paper on your desk. This approach is also handicapped when it comes to recording interesting content pieces when you are not at your desk.

Cornell method

A note-taking method devised in the 1950s by Walter Pauk, an education professor at Cornell University, is one of the most popular ways to enhance your content list.

If you have built a list of pieces of content you would like to consume, then consider adding some additional context and functions using the Cornell method.

Here are the steps:

  1. While consuming the content, record as many noteworthy facts and ideas in the note-taking area.
  2. Summarize facts and frame questions about the content in the cues column. The main notes should be able to answer the questions you pose here.
  3. Write down the summary of the entire session or content piece in 2-4 sentences using your own words.
  4. Revise and reflect on the summary regularly to remember and retain that information.

Active recall

The process is pretty straightforward:

  1. Pick the content you want to consume
  2. Create questions based on the content
  3. Ask yourself those questions to test yourself

The idea is that when you force your brain to retrieve information, you actively learn the concept instead of just passively consuming it. Active recall also makes you aware of items/subjects that you do not understand and might require additional attention.

Spaced repetition

When you learn something, to remember it for the long term, you have to retrieve it from the depths of your brain. And one of the evidence-based learning methods that have become super popular in the last 20 years is called spaced repetition.

The process is simple. Once you learn something after consuming content on it, try to recall it in the following intervals.

  • First repetition: 1 day
  • Second repetition: 7 days
  • Third repetition: 16 days
  • Fourth repetition: 35 days

This process will ensure that you remember the content in the long term since you have given your brain enough time to forget information only to recall it actively.