Forgetting is easier than we think…


Like many of you I’m a life long learner… wanting to understand more and learn more all the time. It’s not about keeping my brain active it’s about developing, personal and business growth that I can share with others. If what I learn and share makes a difference to just one person that’s simply perfect.

But the thing is we attend courses and seminars, watch DVDs, listen to CDs, watch webinars, read, understand, take notes, discuss, debate and then forget!

Hermann Ebbinghaus a 19th Century German philosopher researched the forgetting he’d observed in himself and others and found that the percentage of information we retain over time drops, and in fact it can drop by 40% in just the first couple of days.

The ‘rate of forgetting’ then reduces and is dependent on certain factors including the ease with which we can relate the facts we’ve learnt with what we know already, the difficulty of the material learned, how it was presented and the condition under which it was learnt and not surprisingly how rested we were and our personal health and wellbeing.

In fact the feeling we have when we learnt something lasts a lot longer than what we’ve learnt if we don’t do something to reduce the ‘rate of forgetting’.

So how can we change our own ‘rate of forgetting’ or that of people we train?

  • Use rapid repeat all the time and take notes which are meaningful to ourselves
  • Ensure that we can put into context the information given so we know how we can use it for our business
  • Recognise the best medium for us to learn through and use that more than others
  • Sign up for or have post training material (its not just about upsell, its about giving the best to attendees so they can retain the knowledge and investment isn’t lost)
  • Give ourselves the best chance by not having a late night the night before, don’t skip meals e.g. breakfast and keep hydrated (you and I know it makes sense)
“The amount of detailed information which an individual has at his command and his theoretical elaborations of the same are mutually dependent; they grow in and through each other.” – Hermann Ebbinghaus