The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook – William James

Millions more people are writing today, than were writing 30 years ago, but there are a lot fewer editors, and a lot less editing is done.  We also read on smartphones, tablets and electronic devices, where retention of what we learn is limited, as we skim short articles and jump to the next thing that flashes up.  This is an epidemic.

For retaining what you learn, and to consciously filter the information that you are really interested in you could consider learning how to sketchnote.

I like sketchnotes for the reason that it forces me to consciously focus while I read a book, watch a ted talk, or attend a meeting.  The basic idea is to really, actively listen, and to distill the essence of what strikes me as most important, or most interesting onto one page. Writing and drawing pictures together is a very active way of using our brain, and our cognitive processes.  Dan Roam among others highlight the dual coding theory that supports this.

For me, it is about taking the information I find most interesting, and then the pieces of that information that really strike me, and putting the essence on one page.  It is a way of constantly practicing the art of knowing what to overlook, and its corollary, what to focus on.  Why not give it a try.

(Check out Mike Rohde’s books, the Sketchnote Handbook, the Sketchnote Workbook, and Dan Roam’s, Back of the Napkin to get started.  Or look at the image attached to this blog post for my thoughts on the Sketchnote Workbook.