It’s no secret that technology is changing the way we do business. Large companies like Apple and Google are continually introducing new technology that impacts multiple industries and countless professionals. As these specific changes continue to shape our professional lives, a consistent desire to learn is required. So, for example, those in the digital marketing industry may want to know when Google makes changes to its search algorithm. Products and services are consistently being unveiled, accompanied by terms such as “game changing” and “groundbreaking.”
With so many industries experiencing constant changes, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the new information. So what do we do? We read and study, learning what we can so we can be the best in our business. But making material stick in our minds can be tricky. That’s why to retain what we’ve learned, we often need to contemplate it—a practice that is often ignored by professionals.
To contemplate something is to mentally repeat it over and over again. And by circling back to what we’ve just heard or read, we’re helping to retain the information.
Here are some ways you can ensure you’re retaining information:
1. Reflect on what you’ve just read or heard.
Don’t rush to the next article, podcast, or book. Just pause for a few moments. Review the material in your mind as often as you need to (or are able to), while ensuring you understand the information.You may need to go back and reread or listen to something again, but taking the time to do so now could save you time in the future.
2. Write about the information.
By writing about the information you’re wanting to retain, you are often forced to explain the material, which can lead to greater retention. Many people blog when practicing this point, but even if you don’t have a blog, you might consider creating a new document on your computer (or adding a new note on your mobile device) and writing some of the learned information there. You could even write it down on your mobile device. According to Verizon Wireless, “The latest smartphones and top tablets feature a wide variety of apps for writers on the go.” One app in particular is Write or Die, which lets you set a goal regarding a specific word count and punishes if you don’t reach it. Writing about the information you’ve learned will allow you to use it in the future and serve as a refresher. Also, don’t forget that you can certainly use the classic instruments of pen and paper to accomplish your task.
3. Post bits about what you’re learning on social media.
Write down a few words about what you’ve learned and post it to Twitter. Put a link to a post you found interesting on your Facebook page. You’ll want to be careful if you’re doing this in an office setting where social media sites are prohibited, but if you’re able to practice this, it may be worth your while. Doing so will not only allow you to reference the information later, but it may invite others to learn alongside you, thus giving you the opportunity to talk about what you’ve read, which brings us to the final point.
4. Talk about it.
Engage your colleagues on what you’re learning. Doing so will help you retain the information by repeating it to someone else, and perhaps you’ll get input from them that you’d never considered before on the subject.
Retaining information is often neither quick nor easy, but as business continues to be shaped by the fast-moving world around us, perhaps pausing long enough to consider what we’ve read or heard will better equip us to use the information in the future. This will not be necessary for all topics, but certain pieces of information will most certainly be worth keeping in mind.