Read & Remember {7 Tips plus a Worksheet}

Here are 7 ideas and tips, plus a Read & Remember worksheet, to help you retain and act on more of the ideas you find in the books you read.

Reading, by itself, is of little value…if you don’t remember and take action on the ideas they contain.

To help you make the most of the books I’ve profiled over the years in my Content Marketing Institute Blog posts, I’ve created a free downloadable Read & Remember worksheet.

–  Use the worksheet to take notes while reading books and ebooks, no matter where you are.

–  You can also adapt the worksheet to a software-based spreadsheet or mind map. Send me an email if you’d like a Mindjet MindManager version of the worksheet

Finally, you can use the worksheet to help you keep track of ideas for reviewing books on your blog, preparing Reader Reviews, or GoodReads recommendations.

Creating a Read & Remember process

Success is a matter of consistency and habit. Here are some practical ideas and suggestions for using my Read & Remember worksheet as the basis of a higher-retention reading program.

  1. Print on 3-hole paper. After downloading the Read and Remember worksheet, print out several copies on 3-hole punched paper. The worksheet is intended to be filled-out by hand. Filling out the worksheet by hand encourages spontaneity. Simply filling out the worksheet by hand increases retention. Use the back side of the paper for describing the ideas and details contained in the most important chapters.
  2. Get a head start. Print out a fresh Read & Remember worksheet every time you start to read a new book or ebook. Just filling in the book’s title, the author name, and the author’s website information paves the way to higher retention. Take the worksheet with you if you regularly read business or career books and ebooks during your commute or on lunch hour.
  3. Save the worksheet in a 3-ring binder. Save your Read &  Remember worksheets in a 3-ring binder.�� Organize them alphabetically, by author’s last name. (Or, you can organize them alphabetically by title, making sure you omit characters or words like A or The that appear at the beginning of a title. As your binder gets thicker with completed worksheets, invest in a set of alphabetical tab dividers (typically less than $10) to make it easier to access previously completed worksheets.
  4. Periodically review your worksheets. One of the best ways to increase your retention of previously-read books is to occasionally review your Read & Remember worksheets. Spending a few moments skimming each of your completed worksheets will re-engage your brain, reinforcing the connections it made while you were reading.
  5. Replace the underlining habit. The Read & Review worksheets offer a viable substitute for underlining while reading. This is especially true when reading ebooks on smartphones and tables. If you’re like me, you’ve been underlining books since your school days, (i.e., books you own–not those you’ve borrowed from your local library!).  However, how often do you really go back and reread the underlined passages? The worksheets provide a far more effective technique because they force you to be selective and interpret the main ideas, not just underline them.
  6. Stress the relevancy of the key ideas. When filling out the Read & Review worksheet, take the time to translate information into ways you can act on the ideas. It’s all to easy to read a book and put it down, overlooking the importance of making a connection between the information and how you can put it to work. That’s why I encourage you to use the back side of the worksheet to list specific ideas in each chapter that you can use to improve your content marketing.
  7. Customize the worksheet. I created the Read & Remember worksheet with Microsoft Word, using the Tables feature. I then saved it as an Adobe Acrobat PDF file for easy downloading. If desired, you can easily recreate the worksheet, replacing any of my original questions with questions more appropriate for your specific content marketing needs.

Share your Read & Remember experiences

Please share your experiences after you’ve had a chance to download, print, and fill-out a few Read & Remember worksheets. Did you find it a more engaging and thoughtful alternative to underlining? Did you find it more, or less, useful to track and apply ideas in the ebooks you’ve read? Do you have any suggestions for future versions of the Read & Remember worksheet? Share the Read & Review worksheet, and your impressions and experiences, on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or via email.