My mind is often a sieve, and whatever I’ve just read, passed through my brain cells without making any imprint
I don’t like highlighting nor writing in books as a general rule, so I use a pencil so that I can erase. While I’m reading, I put check marks next to a particularly meaty line, and under some key words I underline. There doesn’t seem to be a pattern to what gets checked and what underlined; I guess that’s more an unconscious thing.
When I reach the end of a section or chapter, I go back and look at what all I checked and underlined in the section or chapter, and then reflect and consider why did those passages stand out and speak to me. The act of checking or underlining while reading, and then going back to reflect and consider seems to set the concepts amongst my brain cells much better, and I can remember what I’ve read. Passages I’ve noted will even leap out at me at odd times during the day! With some key passages, I make note of the passage (or key words from the passage) either in the very front or back of the book with the page number (again in pencil!). These key notations then become my personal index. For this reason I always carry several mechanical pencils in my purse. When I read the daily selections from the “Magnificat” or “Give Us This Day,” I will frequently employ the same checking and underlining as I do in other books. I have quite an index built up of key passages amongst the daily readings. These key passages never fail to inspire and uplift, even returning to them several years later!
Whenever I’m listening to a lecture (class, video, etc.), I take notes throughout the whole class. While I don’t catch everything, there’s enough there that I can more easily remember what was lectured upon. The act of listening, and putting pen to paper in writing engages me far more in the experience than if I’m sitting there just listening or passively watching. It’s rare during the active listening/writing that my mind will drift. I will often do the same during the Priest’s homily in Mass. I’ve caught some awesome homily’s that way.
I think it’s far more respectful to be actively listening/writing and being really engaged, than to sit there listening with a glazed look on my face because my mind is off a million miles away. I’m now known as the “note taker” amongst my Parish!
Hope this helps!