What does learning a new topic look like for you from start to finish?

I’ve found utility in memory techniques for lists, but not so much reading non-fiction, at least yet.

I know the importance of spaced repetition, practicing active recall, etc., but I’m curious: what does that look like for you from start to finish?

For example, if you were to start a new textbook, do you maybe skim the chapter, read it, take notes, create stories or mind palace items out of those notes to review later, or what do you do? I know the value of these techniques but I think I need guidance on how they look in practical situations, like work certification exams.

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I read it over, then do practice questions (if possible) to see what I need to remember. Then I read it over again. If there are bits that don’t stick: these are usually things which are man-made e.g. accounting regulations, regulatory requirements etc. I set up rooms in memory palaces, thematically organised, and place the material in there, preferably grouped in some sort of order. Then, during free time, I try to go over these images and check that I still remember the material. Hopefully, after some time the material will move into the natural memory, and recall will be immediate. Then I do more questions and repeat the process.


@McBrian16, I’ve been absorbing as much process as I can from everyone here on the site and applying it to a verbatim Bible memorization system I call 7711. It could be applied to just about any discipline I’m pretty sure. It’s very much in line with @Niten’s general process. I’m just a process nerd so I have lots of steps.

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Hi, @McBrian16 !

I generally read with the intention to make notes and integrate them in my Zettelkasten system. So I read highlighting with that in mind, and try to make the notes in the moment or in the next few days (otherwise, the probability that I will actually make notes goes down exponentially). After I make the notes, I decide how much of it I want to have access to in the future, from memory.

I’ll generally use one locus for every note, since there’s already a process of selection when I make the notes. If the book is well organized, I go to the memorization process, but sometimes I need to rearrange the notes before I memorize them (when the same topic is needlessly spread in different parts), so I make a new, analytic outline of the points. Depending on the book, my interest and porpoise I can have between 12 and 100 points/ideas I want to remember. Since I store all my long term information in illustrations (which become “guardians” for me), I prefer to limit the number of loci per guardian to 12-15, so a book might have between one and 10 guardians (I’m learning to use less and less loci per book).

After I have the points/ideas I want to store well defined, I codify one guardian per day (at max). I look for the key concepts that I want to have permanently fixed as images and use my method to fix them in my memory, generally at the end of the night. You can read about it here:

The next day, I pick a new Guardian and codify all the information, making two new cards in Anki, one only for the mnemonics, the other for deep review. You can check that in here:

As I said, one locus per point/idea, although some points may have subideas, that I integrate through a technique using memonic containers. Cfr.:

After that, I follow Anki’s algorithm, generally reviewing in depth around 3 Guardians per day, and another 3 in fast revisions (I tend to add between one and 3 new guardians per week). So, that’s it.

The codification of ideas, already written in my own words, is no different than memorizing lists. I use the images in my guardians as little cheat sheets, with enough words to let me remember and think about the content. One idea could be “This idea of God has nothing to do with the common representation of him, since He is not free to decide to create or not create, or what He understands”. In my codification I would codify something like: God, no-representation, no-free, creation, understanding. I will look something like my character for God slicing my character for representation, to one side, and pushing the one for freedom to the other side, then “creating” the full planet in front of him and with my character for understanding flying above this small planet just created.

Well, hope that helps! You can let me know if you have any doubts and specially if you try any of my techniques :slight_smile:

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