What Works‎ > ‎


Things I have difficulty remembering in a pinch:

  • names of people I haven't seen in a while
  • concepts, unless I've "gotten my hands dirty" implementing them
  • stuff I read online
    • tend to skim, missing details
    • distractions on individual pages/screens
      • Instapaper/Readability/full-screen mode (esp. with the iPhone) ease this

What seems to work for me

  • cue cards
    • especially true when I make the cue cards
    • examples where it worked:
      • learning Chinese in my twenties. I folded cue cards in two, then used the four sides for
        • outside: pronunciation in Pinyin
        • other side, outside: simplified character, since that's what we used to learn
        • inside: English translation
        • other side inside: traditional character, in order to at least recognize them in contexts outside mainland China (North American Chinatowns, for example), which tend to use traditional)
        • notes on the edges, such as which chapter of the textbook the word or phrase came from
      • taking an exam on railway safety procedures in my early thirties
        • reading the book twice, as recommended by the examiners, who said the test was simple, absolutely did not work. Failed the exam miserably using that method
        • my girlfriend stepped in an noticed that I had to try a different approach, and suggested cue cards
        • one side: the situation
        • other side: what to do in that situation
  • learning by doing
    • true in my late twenties/early thirties
    • I can read all about how to install a web server, but actually rushing through the instructions and breaking things leads to more success
    • "muscle memory", as much as muscle memory can be applied to typing on a keyboard
  • taking photos of stuff, mostly because it's easy
  • if not remembering the thing, then at least remembering where I can look it up
    • tagging is useful not for the social aspects, but for the individual aspect. That is, I don't expect anybody to know or guess what I tag something with, but I do know what I would tag something with if I need to find that something

Don't know either way if they work for me (questions about my learning style):

  • does taking notes and reviewing them work?
    • in fact, almost any lecture or event I attend will be well-documented, likely video- or at least audio-recorded. So why even bother in the first place?