How Bill Gates Remembers Everything He Reads
It’s not always what you read, but how read it that makes the material stick with you. One person who can attest to this is avid reader, Bill Gates. To date, he reports reading roughly 50 books each year on top of running a company worth over a billion dollars. That’s a lot of books and a lot of information! How can one person remember everything they read? If you’re looking ahead to the school year and seeing a stack of books piling up already, take a lesson from Gates. These are the steps he recommends you take to ensure you retain the information you read.
Read, a lot
Contrary to what one may think, the way to remember more of what you read is to read a lot. Rather than focusing on one piece of text, Gates says it is better to read more books on the same subject matter. “If you read enough, there’s a similarity between things that make it easy, because this thing is like this other thing. If you have a broad framework, then you have a place to put everything,” Gates says in the Quartz video. Incremental knowledge is intimidating at first, but once you get the general concept of it, you are better able to fill in the gaps.
Have a base layer of understanding for the topic
As a freshman in college, you’ll be taking a lot of courses for your major that you’ve never learned before. It is critical that you pay attention in class and get an underlying understanding of what the topic is. Having a brief background on a topic you are reading about gives you a starting point. While audiobooks get a bad rap for taking the easy way out, they can also be an excellent resource for furthering your knowledge on a subject before reading about it. Now, when it comes to studying your textbook, you will have an easier time remembering new information.
Read for at least an hour
Between all your other courses, after school activities, and jobs, it sounds impossible to carve out an hour’s worth of reading daily for each class. Remember, if Bill Gates can, you can too. The reason being is that you risk compromising your memory when you switch between tasks too quickly. In a 2003 paper, Nick Yeung, Ph.D., and Monsell ran experiments to see the difference between working on one sole task versus task switching. They concluded that when you multitask, you have to reconfigure each time you restart the task. You need to go back to the exact moment you left off, leaving room for error. The same applies when you read a book. If you change between books or subject matters too quickly, you will have a harder time putting together the pieces that you read in a previous setting. Gates also points out the importance of reading a book in its entirety, explaining that you could miss important points or misunderstand the author when you read only part of the way.
Students can take Gate’s advice, put it to good use, and learn more memory techniques from Iris Reading’s Advanced Comprehension & Memory course. Sign up today to gain access to information and strategies to comprehend and remember your reading better.