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Sloan's Inbox: What strategies are most effective for retaining acquired knowledge?

Hey friends! Sloan, DEV Moderator and mascot, coming back at ya with another question submitted by a DEV community member. 🦥

For those unfamiliar with the series, this is another installment of Sloan's Inbox. You all send in your questions, I ask them on your behalf anonymously, and the community leaves comments to offer advice. Whether it's career development, office politics, industry trends, or improving technical skills, we cover all sorts of topics here. If you want to send in a question or talking point to be shared anonymously via Sloan, that'd be great; just scroll down to the bottom of the post for details on how.

Let's see what we have for this week...

Today's question is:

Hello! I'm reaching out with a question as I'm currently seeking an effective workflow to retain both new knowledge and what I've already learned.

So, my question is: What strategies are most effective for retaining acquired knowledge?

Share your thoughts and let's help a fellow DEV member out! Remember to keep kind and stay classy. 💚

Want to submit a question for discussion or ask for advice? Visit Sloan's Inbox! You can choose to remain anonymous.

Top comments (5)

theaccordance profile image
Joe Mainwaring • Edited

My method for knowledge retention is to write it down in moleskine notebooks. I started this habit in 2012 & fill in 1-2 books a year depending on what I'm learning/doing. I have an entire shelf full of old notebooks at this point.

stefanmoore profile image
Stefan Moore
  1. Teach it.
  2. Talk to yourself about it.
  3. Lab it up.
ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Good answer

akashdev23 profile image
Akash Dev

Why am I the right person to answer this? A few years back, I had subjects like history, geography, political science in my course and I hated those subjects because they involved remembering facts rather than conceptual things unlike science. I faced a lot of difficulty in scoring in those subjects. When I was in my 10th grade, one month before my final examination, our school conducted a test in which I barely passed. My teacher said that if I continued like this, I would face difficulty in the future. She told me to work hard and score at least 70% marks to improve my overall score. I promised her that I would work hard. Talking about the result, in one month I prepared for the subjects and scored 95% marks. The method I used that time to remember things still helps me today.

Now about those methods: Previously, I bothered a lot about remembering the topics, so I stressed myself and forgot things. So don’t stress yourself in remembering everything. Highlight the main points you want to remember and write them down somewhere. Preferably in a notebook. You could also make short notes and stick them somewhere. Now try to teach it to someone. It is not necessary to have a human. You could teach your table, chair, etc. One more tip is to research the topics in depth. Many times we only need to remember the surface level information and we are not able to remember them because they do not make sense. Try to dive deep into things. By doing this, you could see the dots connecting. Don’t stick to one topic for long. First have an overview of the stuff you need to remember. For example, if I have to remember about operating systems, then first of all I will go on YouTube and see some videos on how OS works and stuff like that to have a basic idea of what I could expect in the subject. My last tip is to first read the stuff, then repeat the important points in your head a few times. Then close your textbook and explain it on a paper. Write everything you remember. Now after that, compare the stuff you have written with the stuff in the book and see how much you have remembered. Now revise it again and repeat the same thing again after some time. Now it may happen that you could not remember anything. It is alright. Just give yourself a day. What I feel is that our brain needs some time to save the stuff we are learning, so give yourself some time and everything will be fine.

kaamkiya profile image

Applying it.

Or teaching it.