Future, Present or Past

Learning Rat Race: How to read faster and remember more4 min read

January 3, 2020 3 min read

Learning Rat Race: How to read faster and remember more4 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Long story short, too much to read, too many MOOCs, TED to watch, podcasts to listen, and not enough time.
But what can we do? I feel being in a rat race and maybe you feel that too.

I am not saying this from the perspective of fear of missing out but from the one of not knowing the optimum recipe for learning and doing. I don’t have any fear of control and I love chaos and ambiguity, I jump in the pool and start learning as I am drowning and so far I navigated my life really nice. But I am an optimizer, in my work life and in my personal life. Why do something harder if there is a smarter way?!

Life-long learning and having a growth mindset are amazing buzz words that may sound easy but don’t get yourself fooled, you still have to put stuff inside your mind.

My challenge and my question: When do we find time to apply the things we learn if there is so much to learn? What’s the perfect receipe for the mix of actions and learning? We just block times and go with the flow?!

There’s so much good stuff to read and learn. For example:

I’d like to share with you what helped me so far in reading more and better and these resources may also help you:

  1. How to read a book [really helped me]
  2. Blinkist or other similar apps [cheating on reading]
  3. Writing down [to summarise]. I use an iPad Pro with a stylus and GoodNotes app (best one). My system here: max 1 page per book, 1 short Conclusion and max 3 ToDos]
  4. How to read faster [really helped me]. Btw, you can test your speed here.
  5. How to remember more [beginning, this is one of this year’s goals]. This is the intro as an idea, Art of Memory is a way better resource and complete.

This speed-reading and the memory-boosting journey started with 2 books:

Frankly, I started reading very late in my life, at the end of high school. Until then I was sure I don’t like reading because I never liked anything school made me read.

One day I started reading Harry Potter and for the first time I saw that there was nothing wrong with me and then I discovered that I love reading. But it took some years to really learn how to read. The resources above and these two books helped me. Hopefully, they will help you as well.

  • Moonwalking with Einstein – this is how I first found out about mnemonics. If you are interested in the story, read it. Spoiler Alert: Anyone can become a memory champion, but it requires practice.
  • How to read a book – I was fascinated to see how many things I did not do and it struck me the irony of no-one ever telling me to learn how to read and the fact that it took me 26 years to do that Google search.
  • If you are more a video-kind-of-person, on Coursera there’s a great free very usefully course offered by McMaster Univ and Univ of California San Diego.

My recommendation, based on my experience, is to follow the 5 resources I shared above in that order, from easy to harder.

Videos I usually watch/listen to at home, when doing other jobs and Podcasts I usually listen to while driving or commuting. No other tricks here. I tried to use the 1.5x-2x speed but it drives me crazy. This is why I prefer reading to watching or listening.

Thank you for your time.
I hope it was worth reading this.

Btw, I would love to hear what is your approach in learning better.


This was the first assignment from the altMBA I am going to start on the 6th of January. One month of intensive projects, discussions and debates. More about my altMBA journey in a future post.

2 Comments
  1. Alin-Claudiu

    I actually have the same struggle and it is on my to do list for this year to learn how to fast-read. I started reading at the end of university because of the exactly same reason you mentioned so it can be even worse :)) Thanks for the resources :)

    • Mihai Toader-Pasti

      It could have been worse, like never really start love learning. So we should be happy we did start regardless on how late that happened. But of course I also think how amazing would have been starting earlier. Incredible how many people wrote me saying that they started loving reading by reading HP. Nice job, JKRowling!

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