The first, and most important thing to understand about how you learn are the different modes that you brain uses when learning something new.
Effective learning takes advantage of how the brain works, during this process, we might loose focus or procrastinate on the task in front of us.
Due to that, if you understand just the basics of how your brain works and apply some productive techniques correctly, it is almost guaranteed that you will learn anything easily and be less frustrated.
In this post we will look at 7 ways to improve your learning process, this might be helpful for your self-education, for formal education and and throughout your entire life.
An efficient way to memorize and retain facts.
This is a memorization technique which you frequently look for facts that you’re not very confident, while the ones you are sure of don’t show up so often.
This method takes advantage of how your brain works and has the potential of storing information for a indefinite period of time.
Flashcards are useful for learning vocabulary. Use a SRS software, like Anki, which you can create your own decks and apply space repetition.
2. Method of Loci (for memorization).
Associate information with different locations.
It helps you remember things by searching for the relative place in your house. This is also known as the memory palace technique.
For example, when studying German, I associate the word “schmetterling” — which means “butterfly” — with my toilet.
This visualization allows a quick and efficient recall of information.
3. Hack Akrasia (“Lack of Self-Control”).
You discount the value of a task the more it is delayed;
We enjoy short-term pleasure, like procrastinating, while sacrificing the benefits we get by working to get a long-term, larger reward.
The app Beeminder can help; it’s a commitment device.
Another way is to give yourself short-term rewards while you work towards the bigger, long-term reward. For example you can reward yourself with dark-chocolate after a study session, so you’d stay motivated.
Use the time-division that peaks your productivity.
The pomodoro technique basically makes you work for 25 minutes and take a 5 minute break. Instead of setting yourself for constant breaks, you can aim to work for 45 minutes and take 15 minute breaks.
Or 50/10. Or 1:30/30. Just find what works for you.
Also, whenever you get distracted by something, or feel tempted to depart from your task, write the distraction down in a A4 paper. This way you can become aware of what distracts you and prevent these distractions in future sessions.
5. Use Both Focused and Diffused thinking.
In the free-course Learning How to Learn — you learn about how the brain uses two very different learning modes and how it encapsulates (“chunks”) information.
Researches found that the system 1 is strict, fast and immediate, while the system 2 is broaden with a big picture perspective.
Focused thinking means you’re really concentrating on one problem set, one piece of information, and you’re focusing hard. Here the thought moves smoothly in a familiar, nicely paved road.
Diffused thinking is when you’re more relaxed, and you can use this type of thinking for concepts if you need new ideas or approaches. Concepts you haven’t thought of before.
“System 1” is fast, instinctive and emotional;
“System 2” is slower, more deliberative, and logical.
6. Slow Down.
If your professor is talking too fast, or the pace of the lesson is too quick for you to process the information, you can study the material BEFORE a lecture, or ask for some help.
Just take your time to digest things. You don’t need to rush everything like you did when studying for a test the night before.
Learning comes down to a constant exposure for a long period of time. If you try to retain information all at once, you might burn out and this is not beneficial.
7. Start Problem Sets alone.
“No one is alone when accompanied by great thoughts.”
When studying with someone else, we might skip topics which we have deficiencies because your partner already knows how to solve it.
If you solve problems alone, you’re sure that YOU can do it, not that your friend is able to do it. This way you can pinpoint which ideas you’re not sure of, not just glance over them.
Starting projects is helpful to give yourself some challenges. The growth comes when we are in discomfort, but moving forward. If there is a project that you want to do but lack the knowledge to do it, I encourage you to at least start it.
This way you have something new to learn. Learning should be a ever-going process, not something we used to do when in school. Education is the only thing that set us free, so go ahead and make some mistakes.
Your future self will thank you.
Thank You For Reading ❤