Gaining VS. Absorbing Knowledge: Ways To Retain Information Effectively

Fatima Shaikh
September 6, 2022

Many people believe that the essence of success lies in who you know, but success is always based on what you know. We all desire to learn more quickly, remember more information, and sharpen our memories for this reason, whether for work or study. Especially in this time and age, where we live in the age of information overload. For instance, a New York Times article reported that an average American takes in the knowledge worth about 174 newspapers daily.

The human mind is designed to learn anything and everything with each passing second, going as far as processing about 74 GB worth of information a day. And with all the information you’re exposed to, there are more chances for you to learn from it. However, simply being exposed to information isn't at all what it takes for you to remember it. The big question lies in how you can learn new information, how you can remember it, and how you can use it to aid in your success and productivity.

The Difference Between Gaining VS. Absorbing Knowledge

It’s easy to get confused between the two concepts when you look up “knowledge hacks” online. This is why most people follow methods that don't end up matching with their goals in the first place. It’s a universal fact that your brain learns something every time you are exposed to new information. For instance, suppose you attend a digital seminar on how to boost your daily productivity. That is knowledge acquired; as a result of the discussion, you are now aware of new information you were not aware of prior to attending the seminar.

Now, let's skip ahead a month or two. Would you be able to recall the methods and tips you heard about in the seminar? Do you find yourself using those methods in your daily life? Do you actively use them in your regular operations to boost productivity? The average answer would be no because while you have learned that information, you failed to absorb it or use it. Gaining information is just being exposed to new information. You may not always remember it or use it. Absorbing information, however, is learning something new, assimilating it into your memory, and being able to recall and apply it to your daily life in a helpful manner.

Five Methods To Retain Information More Effectively

You can use the methods below to help you learn, assimilate, and use information more effectively:

1. Pay Close Attention

The ability to pay attention is one of the key components of memory. You must actively pay attention when being exposed to new information for it to transfer from your short-term memory to your long-term memory. Try to find a quiet space where you can study without being interrupted by noise distractions. Try to find an hour in your day where you’re not surrounded by any kind of noise or burdened by any chores and can study without having your attention diverted. With your mind’s entire focus on the knowledge in front of you, you will be able to commit it to your memory more effectively.

2. Don't Fall For The Practice Of Cramming

Your brain needs time to process the information being fed to it and be able to assimilate it. If it suffers from information overload, it’s very likely to forget it all quite soon. Whether it’s a podcast you’re listening to or a research journal you're studying, your mind will be able to assimilate the knowledge more properly if you study the content over several sessions. According to ongoing research, people who divide their studies into multiple routine sessions can retain the information much better than those who conduct all of their studying in a single study marathon.

3. Take Advantage Of Mnemonic Devices

Mnemonic devices or strategies are often used as a recall aid to help the mind remember certain information. Your brain often links a word, sound, image, or memory to a bit of information. A mnemonic device helps you use that word, sound, or image to help you remember information. Creating a song or a rhyme associated with the content you learned can help you remember the knowledge and use it when necessary.

4. Practicing And Elaborating

Just like how a computer stores data in big concentrated files in data maps and frameworks, your mind functions the same way. You can store knowledge in a concentrated form in your long-term memory to retrieve it later. The method "elaborative rehearsal" refers to a knowledge encoding technique to help you remember big chunks of information by summarizing it. This method might be used, for instance, to read the definition of a term, study it, and then read a more in-depth explanation. You'll probably be able to recall the information more easily after repeating this method a few times.

5. Learn Concepts By Visualizing Them

The method that the human mind uses the most to remember knowledge is by visuals. Concept visualization helps a lot of people remember entire theories, terminologies, or even routines. Examine the images, graphs, and other visuals in a book or a video. Create your own visual cues if you don't have any available. Use highlighters or pens in different colors to group related ideas in your study materials, or doodle charts or figures in the margins of your notes. You can also make flashcards of the terms you need to remember to help assist you in retaining information.

The Key To Learning Lies In Assimilation and Retention

We are constantly learning new things in today's information-heavy world. If you want to make positive changes in your life and at work, you need to absorb the knowledge, not just gain it. You can watch your ability to absorb information, facts, and knowledge increase as you implement the mentioned methods. True knowledge isn't just knowing things, it begins when you start using it, sharing it, and increasing it.

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