I grab my Kindle and go to our balcony. It’s time to read a bit. I’m currently reading “A Mind For Numbers”. It contains a ton of interesting insights regarding learning. So I’m highlighting, highlighting, and highlighting.
Later, after I’m done reading, I’ll transfer all the highlights to Notion.
It is a great feeling to find new insightful information. It feels surprising and familiar at the same time. So naturally, I want to hold on to the insight. I want to internalize and memorize it.
But most often the great feeling is followed by a feeling of frustration. A few minutes, hours, or days later I can’t even remember the new insight anymore. Everything somehow fades away.
This is because we often try to memorize isolated facts. But our brain is terrible at storing isolated facts and abstract information. Instead, our brain is good at finding patterns, building concepts, and creating meaning.
But not all hope is lost. We have two options to hold on to insights. One option is a trick memorization experts use. The other is somewhat trivial but rarely used.
One. Memorization experts can remember a lot. And seemingly a lot of isolated facts, numbers, objects. But it only looks like that. In their mind, beneath all the memorization magic lies a simple idea. They connect isolated facts, numbers, objects. They connect them in a meaningful way. Mostly by putting them into a story.
We can use this to remember interesting insights. Instead of trying to store them in isolation, let’s try to connect them to what we already know. Like Munger said let’s try to build a “latticework of mental models”. By building this network of insights, we can more easily access the insights. One idea leads to the next idea and so on.
This learning technique is called chunking, through which we connect bits of information through meaning.
Two. Our second — and more trivial option — is to use external tools. This sounds obvious, but it’s not. We try to keep everything in our heads. But our brains are not built to store tons of information. And we try it anyway.
Of course, some information has to be in our heads. Some things are crucial for us to remember immediately when we need them. But the rest — the rest where we know we have the time to look it up when we need to — can stay in an external tool outside of our head. Maybe a notetaking app like Notion or a physical note-taking system. Therefore, ask yourself: “Do I have to internalize this or can this be externalized?”
How do you deal with interesting insights you came across?