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I have something to confess: I’m an information addicted. I’m always reading books, checking out news, following a few hundred blogs, following another few hundred people on twitter and the list just goes on and on. I bet you do the same.
First of all, this is not about how to just pass over your next university exams but how to keep yourself updated or learn something with all the information we are throw everyday. It’s not possible (for me at least) to keep track from everything I read. People like me reads hundreds of information sources, mostly online. Besides that we also read books, attend conferences, meet new people, etc. We are literally bloated by information from everywhere.
how can we manage to digest this huge amount of information we face everyday ?
We all know there’s no unique answer for that question. Everybody has a different approach when it comes to learn something. Some people prefer to take notes while reading, some people prefer to record audio snippets, some people like to create songs that resemble the information, (your method here). As you might think, I happen to have my own technique (probably not only mine) and it’s being very useful to me.
I read somewhere else a good analogy: we have two “databases” in our brain. One is the short-term memory database and the other is the long-term one. When we read something, every piece of information goes to our short-term memory which is something like a “heap” of unclassified information . As this “database” isn’t classified, our brain doesn’t know if the information is useful or not. Later on, it can be even 10 minutes, when we try to recall some information from it, we may not be able to easily do it because isn’t classified yet. But no worries : how many times happened to you that you remembered something just a few hours later while doing something else? That happens because our searching process is asynchronous.
Ok, our information searching process is asynchronous, so what ? It literally means, your brain is still learning some subject even after you stopped thinking about it. It’s like dispatching a background process. The problem is you need to constantly remember that subject in order to transfer it to your long-term memory.
What happens when my learning log stack is getting excessively big ? Just use your common sense! If you get to the point where you always need to recall every item in your list, something is wrong! So, how many items should you have in your list? It may vary from person to person. In my case I found 10 to be a good size. It doesn’t mean I need to first learn all 10 items and them move to the next 10 items. Some items can be in your list for a relatively long time, it’s strongly dependent on how complex is the subject and how fast you can learn.
Defining when you “learned” something is very subjective. In my opinion, you can’t know everything. My “learned” definition is when I get to the point where I can explain the subject to someone else and they properly understand it. Having a time constraint can help too, like imposing yourself a 15 days limit for the items in your list.
- Learning log (official way) http://www.csudh.edu/titlev/learninglog.htm
- Read it later http://readitlaterlist.com/
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