Why do so many people suffer from information overload and so few people achieve information mastery? If you are interested to improve your mind, improve your memory, improve concentration and to remember tons of information, there are memory training methods and memory techniques that really work. But information mastery is more than memorizing tons of information. It’s also about how to make information make sense not only to yourself, but to those you wish to communicate its importance to.

So how do you have information mastery? The answer has to do with the way you picture information to yourself. Consider the following. College and high school graduates usually know many ways of representing information. Unfortunately, though, the representations that they know are usually the wrong ones. Believe it or not, these representations can actually make it harder to learn a body of information and gain a subjective sense of ownership.

What are the most popular formats for representing facts? These may include formats such as tables, flowcharts, pie charts, equations, and graphs, they can be wonderful. They can even be useful to you for organizing a body of information you have already mastered. Sometimes you might use them to summaries a set of facts. Other times they reveal properties of the information that you would otherwise not notice. But do they help you at the point when you are first becoming comfortable with a new domain of knowledge? The answer almost always is “no”.

You use graphs and tables to communicate information because they summarize a lot of data succinctly with a few lines on a page. When you are first learning new information, however, you usually want everything to be loose and expanded instead of tight and compact. If you are like most people, tables and graphs will help you only if they are ones that you already know well. You normally want all the details and qualifications and special circumstances to be written in full. That way you can devote your mind power to identifying and understanding the main facts.

Here is an example of how I make sense of tables. Recently, a financial planner from an investment company met with me to discuss a return on an investment for one of her company’s products. Her model was in the form of a spreadsheet. She began going through the model, explaining what it meant line-by-line. I started to feel restless and uncomfortable. To understand this model, I knew that our conversation would have to move in a different direction.

So I focused instead on her goal. Which was, to convince my friend to purchase her company’s product. Then I asked myself what her unique selling point was. It turned out that there was one key cell in the spreadsheet. If the figure in that cell was correct, then her product genuinely was more attractive than the competition. If that figure was wrong, my client ought to choose a different product.

So I marked the key cell and asked her to confirm that this value was the crucial one. She confirmed this. Then I wrote that figure on a new piece of paper, with a note saying what it meant. After that the problem became to verify whether or not this crucial figure was correct or not. By now I was doing most of the talking. I started asking her to explain how the key figure had been calculated. It turned out that I needed only a few select pieces of information to evaluate her entire argument.

Different people like to represent new information in different formats. A colleague of mine likes to make pictures. I prefer a long list of point form notes. Some people are most at home with tables and graphs. Do not feel captive to the format in which you receive the information. The best form is whatever makes it easiest for you to understand and evaluate the facts.

Author's Bio: 

Martin Mak has developed a new program to help people enhance their memory and learning experience. Find out how with his free and popular ecourse at