The Best Way to Retain Information

“Lo que muy bien se aprende, nunca se olvida.”

Did you have a high school Spanish teacher that made you repeat that line over and over? If you did, you know the translation: A well-learned lesson is never forgotten.

Then life happens and, POOF, all the notes you took from books, seminars, and Spanish 101 are gone. How to retain all that information? You could do something drastic, like that “No Regerts” ink your buddy got during Spring Break ’98. That’s not ideal, painless, or pretty.

The other option? Check out this short slice. You’ll discover a pain-free method for remembering important stuff.

Click to tweet this: Memory is malleable. Learn by taking actions and you won’t need to remember. @DaveCrenshaw

Video transcript:

A client of mine recently asked me, “Dave, how do I retain all the information that I am learning? I go to events, I go to conferences, I read books. But how do I actually keep it inside of me?”

Well, I like to think of this like putting a tattoo on your life. No not a real tattoo but one that inks [the lesson] into your life permanently. The way that you do that is by taking action on what you learn.

In other words, when you go to a conference and you hear a speaker, rather than writing down the words that they say, write down the action that you’re going to take. Don’t take notes, take action.

Then later you can process those actions using what, when, where processing that I teach in Time Management Fundamentals. Then–most important–when the time comes in your calendar to do that thing, do it. By doing it, it’s like you’re inking that lesson into your life. It makes it a part of you. Rather than trying to retain knowledge, take action.

So my question for you is—what is the lesson that you learned recently and did you do something about it?

Also, if you have a question you’d like me to answer in a future video, ask that below as well.

Thanks for watching and may you go do something about what you learned.

Join the conversation: What is the lesson that you learned recently and did you do something about it?

I respond to every question and comment. So, please, join the conversation!


Wish you had more time? What if you could uncover dozens of free hours every week, with just a few simple tweaks? Find freedom with a free copy of Dave’s guidebook, How to Get 10 Free Hours Every Week, by clicking here.

12 Archived Responses to “The Best Way to Retain Information”

  1. Thank you for another awesome tip! This is the first example that came to my head of taking actions rather than notes:
    After reading that meditating helps you find focus and manage stress, I’ve started concentrating on my breathing and nothing else for a few minutes a day. It’s helped me feel so much better in just one week.

    • You’re welcome, Fionnuala! That’s a great example. Rather than passively reading about meditation could help you, you became an active participant in the process. That lesson will now stick in your mind, far better than if you had just read about it and done nothing. Well done!

  2. Raffi J. says:

    Nice slice. I think not only is it good for retention but you end up listening in a different way with the thought of what you’re going to do (if anything) with the information.

    • Dave Crenshaw says:

      Very true, Raffi. This highlights why I begin every speech by asking the audience to not take note, but take action. It causes them to listen for application, rather than just general knowledge.

  3. Really useful tip. I am going to try it!

  4. Nabeel says:

    Hi Dave

    I am a Lynda.com Member and a Start-Up Entrepreneur, I want to say thank you. Your Time Management Fundamentals video has changed my life for the better. A focus, turned chaos master (how? IDK), your video (and Lynda.com) has helped get me back on the straight and narrow i so wish to be on.

    Thank you again.

  5. Angy Ford says:

    Great video – only write action steps at conferences! Love this tip!

  6. Fatehia says:

    I can retain the information through teaching others of what I learned. Sometimes you can’t think of an action, so you need to take notes. What do you think?

    • Hi, Fatehia. There’s certainly nothing wrong with this approach, as long as your continuous goal is to look for action. I find that often people use note-taking as a substitute for real-world doing. I recommend you cultivate the habit of asking yourself, whenever listening to a speaker and taking notes, “What can I DO about what I’m hearing?”

      Thanks for the comment!