A quick scroll through your social media timelines usually tells you that people in 2016 really enjoy training their body’s so that they’re physically better than ever.
But how many of us are training our brains?
There are many benefits to training your brain, including being able to think on your feet, as well as learning faster and better. And the benefit of learning quicker and better is that you get smarter quicker. Your life becomes much more efficient.
Moreover, you are able to hold onto all the knowledge you’ve acquired.
And this really is the crux of things. It’s one thing to learn something new, but it’s quite another to then retain that knowledge. How often have you learned something, only to totally forget it a week later? Sometimes, we even forget it just a few hours later. It’s frustrating.
If you’re looking to grow your knowledge base and expand your skill set, let’s take a look at 10 tips that will help you to learn a lot faster and a lot better.
Do Something Repeatedly
Einstein said that we have to read something over three times before we fully grasp it (though I’ve read his theory of relativity 150 times and still haven’t grasped it!!).
Likewise, when it comes to learning something new, repetition is key.
Think back to when you were learning to ride a bike as a kid. It was difficult at first. But now that you’ve mastered the art of riding a bike, you can’t possibly imagine how difficult it used to be. It’s second nature to you now!
It’s second nature because you retrained your brain in such a way that your neural pathways got better. Before got onto a bike, they had no idea what do do! But after a few attempts – repetition – they understood and got with the program.
It was the same when you first learned how to eat with a knife and fork, or when a magician first learned how to juggle. Through repetition, you can retrain your brain.
They say that curiosity killed the cat. But curiosity also reveals answers.
If you want to learn better, you need to first of all have a passion for learning. You need to enjoy it. And approaching learning with a curious, wondering mind can certainly enhance your enjoyment.
Be curious about absolutely everything. Take pleasure in solving riddles. Ask why things are as they are. Develop a thirst to know more. Take pleasure in pursuing the mystery. Be like a detective.
“He who chases two rabbits catches none.”
Women are supposed to be ace multitaskers, right? Wrong!
Contrary to common belief, multitasking doesn’t improve your learning at all. It just makes things worse.
Sure, you might get something done quicker. But how well? And do you even remember what you did?
Your brain cannot pay all that much attention when you’re giving it two things to do at once. It’s a fantastic processor, but it isn’t that good.
It’s a lot better to devote your energy to one task at a time. In this way, you get a full and comprehensive understanding of what it is you’re trying to learn – as opposed to a partial understanding.
Some people will tell you that learning is itself a reward. But if you don’t feel this way, it’s important that you give yourself a reward at the end of each day of solid learning.
This is a motivational trick that always works.
Write It Down
Let’s say you read a 200 page book this weekend on politics. It leaves you feeling pretty darn fulfilled and you feel like you’ve learned a lot.
A week later, I ask you to talk to me about some key points. Do you back yourself?
Most people wouldn’t. They have to reopen the book and sift through it to find the information they want. It’s really frustrating because you were high on new knowledge a week ago, but now it’s all gone!
For this reason, it’s a great idea to take notes as you go along. If a particular passage in a book really strikes you, type it up in a Word document. In this way, you can easily refer to it whenever you want (such as during a work break) so that it gets better cemented in your mind.
Tell Someone What You’ve Learned
The best way to retain the knowledge you’ve just learned is to explain it to someone else. Not only will this strengthen your memory, but it can also help you to resolve any issues you had with the concept.
Moreover, your friend may also add their own opinions which will further strengthen your understanding.
Use Mistakes To Your Advantage
Some of us get thrown wildly off course whenever we make a mistake. We treat mistakes as a massive deal that knocks our confidence and maybe stops us from learning anything else for a while.
But why do we get so despondent over a few mistakes? Is it because we’ve been conditioned to believe that mistakes are somehow a reflection of our own limitations?
Whatever the reason, it’s time to change the way you view mistakes.
Everyone makes them, but those who are good learners always learn quickly from their mistakes and move on. They take a look at where they have gone wrong, and they make sure they never make the same mistake twice.
If you’re more of an images than a words person, it might be a goo idea to find ways of visualising the new information you’re trying to learn.
You could draw diagrams, create mental associations, or you could even turn the concept into a visually compelling story in your head!
“OMG I am never going to learn all this. I’m just not good enough!”
Sound familiar? Negativity breeds negativity. As Nietzsche once pointed out, if you stare long enough at the abyss, it will stare back. In other words, if you tell yourself you cannot do something, you really won’t be able to do it.
Anxiety about learning can be fatal. It can prevent us from absorbing knowledge and improving our skill set.
This is really a case of adjusting your mindset. If you approach learning with a positive, “I can do this” attitude, you will be amazed at your improved results.
Turn Off All Distractions
Uninterrupted learning is the best kind. If you find yourself straying from your books every five minutes to check your Facebook timeline, any information you are absorbing will be absorbed in bits and bobs. It won’t make a lot of sense. It’ll be like a movie with bits of the plot missing.
It’s a good idea to turn off all distractions during your learning periods, including phones, laptops and televisions.