The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Techniques On How To Learn Quicker
Starting a new job is an intimidating moment and a real test for the intellect. All that stuff you learned at college suddenly acquires a real world context that may be far removed from academic ideas. The elements you skimmed over to get through the job interview are really only going to get you so far. And even if you know most of what you need to know (and don’t forget, employers expect you to learn a lot on those first few weeks on the job) you’ll perform better with true confidence in your subject and fresh insight to spare.
But the gap between getting that acceptance call and starting your first day at work can be pretty small. Cramming up on everything you need to know to make a good impression is going to require some real technique. The kind of skills you may have neglected since graduating.
Everyone knows that jumping into a study session is difficult, especially with the distractions we have at our fingertips we have these days – so begin with something lighter, some mental warm-up such as a crossword or counting backwards to get your brain warmed up and ready to absorb facts. Be realistic about how much time you have, what you need to know, and what are the foundations that you need to be sure on before you hit the heavy stuff, and create a schedule that reflects this. Learning without a map, you will soon become lost. If you have time, make it practical – do some volunteering or work experience, or find a way to exercise the requisite skills in your daily life.
There’s a lot of science and a lot of passed-down wisdom on the art of learning, and you’re not the first to seek it. But now you have the advantage of an infographic that gathers the best tips and techniques into one easy – and quick – resource. So knuckle down but don’t forget, it’s more effective if you first make time to learn how to learn.
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25 WAYS TO LEARN FASTER
SO MUCH TO LEARN, SO LITTLE TIME, LUCKILY, THERE ARE LOTS OF TECHNIQUES YOU CAN USE TO ACCELERATE YOUR LEARNING AND GET MUCH BETTER, MUCH FASTER.
FIRST THINGS FIRST, GET YOUR BRAIN FIRING ON ALL CYLINDERS WITH THESE CLEVER LEARNING TACTICS.
1. BRAIN WARM-UP
Just like your muscles before a workout, your brain needs warming up before a learning session in order to wake up and function properly.
TOP TIP: DO QUICK MENTAL ACTIVITIES such as counting backwards to loosen up your mind.
2. CREATE LEARNING AGENDA
Structuring your learning time can help organize your mind, align your goals, and reduce stress.
TOP TIP: CREATE A LEARNING TIMETABLE, scheduling time for learning as well as relaxation in manageable chunks.
3. USE MULTIPLE LEARNING METHODS
A study by Judy Willis suggests that “The more regions of the brain that store data about a subject, the more interconnection there is.” So using more than one learning method helps us retain more information.
TOP TIP: COMBINE LEARNING METHODS for the same subject. Listen to a podcast, examine a diagram and talk to a friend about your learnings.
4. BUILD UP PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE
Building practical experience of the subject into your daily life can boost and improve your learning.
TOP TIP: SEARCH FOR WAYS TO APPLY YOUR NEW SKILLS in everyday life i.e. if you want to improve your writing, start a blog. Or, if you’re trying to learn a trade, search for work experience opportunities.
5. DO ONE TASK A TIME
Research suggests that multi-tasking can actually hinder the learning process, so you should try to focus on one task at a time.
TOP TIP: DO QUICK MENTAL ACTIVITIES such as counting backwards or playing rhyming games to loosen your mind and make you more receptive to new information.
6. TEST YOURSELF REGULARLY
Studies have highlighted higher information retention rates in those who regularly self-test compared with those who don’t.
TOP TIPS: LOOK FOR ONLINE QUIZZES or memory tests in your chosen subject area to test your knowledge.
7. REWARD YOURSELF
Research suggests that reward motivation improves memory function through the release of dopamine in the brain, meaning little incentives can go a long way.
TOP TIP: SPLIT YOUR LEARNING SCHEDULE INTO CHUNKS and reward yourself with a break or a tasty treat after completing each one.
8. DON’T BE TEMPTED TO CRAM
Studies show that spacing out your learning and reviewing information periodically is better for retaining information for longer, whereas cramming is only mildly effective in the short-term.
TOP TIPS: GIVE YOURSELF PLENTY OF TIME to fully absorb the information before a deadline.
SET YOURSELF REMINDERS to review certain topics on multiple occasions.
9. TAKE REGULAR BREAKS
Taking short but regular breaks has been shown to help keep your brain focused on the task at hand.
TOP TIP: SET AN ALARM to go off every 30 – 45 minutes and take a 5-minute break from what you’re doing, and don’t be tempted to skip any.
10. TRY A BRAIN TRAINING PROGRAM
The internet is full of programs that can help you ‘train’ yuour brain from the comfort of your own sofa, and may are clinically proven to improve memory and recall speed.
TOP TIP: SIGN UP FOR PROGRAMS such as BrainHQ aor use apps like Luminosity for daily brain exercises.
11. TURN WORDS INTO IMAGERY
Learning experiments have shown that imagining clear visual images can help with memorizing short pieces of text.
TOP TIP: TRY RE-IMAGINING a sentence or scenario as a memorable journey with multiple, key events in order to memorize it.
12. VARY YOUR SESSION
Research suggests that varying your study sessions can prevent your brain from switching off and keep the session interesting.
TOP TIPS: SET YOURSELF A TARGET.
13. TEACH OTHERS
Teachers have reported that teaching something to other people is one of the best ways of learning something.
TOP TIPS: TRANSLATE what you’ve learned into your own words to make sure you understand it.
ASK FAMILY or friends if they’d be happy to act as student guinea pigs.
14. PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR SURROUNDINGS
Studies show that unsuitable surroundings can negatively impact upon how well you learn and retain information.
TOP TIPS: MAKE SURE your learning environment is clean, tidy, and at a pleasant temperature.
GO SOMEWHERE NEW such as a cafe or a different room in the house for a change of scenery.
15. TRICK YOURSELF INTO ENJOYING A TASK
Many studies have shown that simply faking a smile can positively affect our emotions, so applying this to learning can help make it a positive experience.
TOP TIP: MAKE YOURSELF LAUGH or smile while attempting a learning task, or ask others to join in to create a more positive experience.
16. USE MNEMONIC DEVICES TO COMPRESS INFORMATION
Mnemonic devices such as acronyms, rhymes or creating diagrams compress information and make it easier to digest and memorize.
TOP TIP: TRY DIFFERENT MNEMONIC METHODS of summarizing and compressing information and test yourself to see which one works best for you.
SO YOU’VE FINE-TUNED YOUR MENTAL EFFORTS, BUT IT DOESN’T STOP THERE. TAKING GOOD CARE OF YOUR BODY CAN ALSO BOOST LEARNING.
17. GET REGULAR EXERCISE
Studies show that getting just 15 minutes of exercise can improve your memory and the ability to think clearly.
TOP TIP: IF YOU’RE STRUGGLING TO CONCENTRATE, try going for a brisk walk or doing a short gym workout to help clear your mind.
18. GET PLENTY OF SLEEP
Scientific research has shown that a lack of sleep can negatively affect brain function and cause you to make more errors in daily tasks.
TOP TIP: SET YOURSELF AN APPROPRIATE TIME where you agree to stop working and get a good night’s sleep, otherwise your learning ability and memory skills will suffer.
19. SOCIALIZE & SHARE
Talking about your thoughts and learnings with others has been known to help people process and understand their thoughts.
TOP TIPS: AT THE END OF A LEARNING SESSION, spend some time chatting with friends and summarizing your day.
ORGANIZE A STUDY GROUP to help each other stay focused and discuss findings.
20. EAT MORE CHOCOLATE – YES REALLY
Eating dark chocolate makes your brain produce dopamine, a chemical that aids faster learning and memory.
TOP TIP: IF YOU’VE GOT A DIFFICULT TASK AHEAD, eat a few squares of dark chocolate that contains at least 70% cocoa – but don’t overdo it!
Scientific studies show that meditation can improve your attention span, making learning sessions even more productive.
TOP TIPS: LEARN TO MEDIATE using classes or apps like Buddhify and Headspace.
BEGIN each learning session with a period of meditation.
22. CONSUME MORE OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS
Foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids have been show to help the brain control learning and memory functions.
TOP TIP: EAT OILY FISH such as salmon and mackerel, and snack on walnuts, peanuts, and pumpkin seeds throughout the day.
23. DRINK MORE WATER
Staying hydrated has been shown to boost your brain’s responsiveness and mental processing ability…
TOP TIPS: BUY an easily portable water bottle and keep it topped up at all times.
EAT MORE FRUITS like watermelon and strawberries; they’re also full of water.
24. DO YOGA
People who practice yoga report fewer cognitive mistakes such as errors in memory or perception, compared with those who don’t.
TOP TIPS: INVEST IN A YOGA MAT and spend some time learning basic yoga routines.
USE APPS 5 Minute Yoga or Down Dog to learn new routines.
25. TAKE UP A NEW HOBBY
Picking up hobbies that are unrelated to your learning topic can help your brain process what is has learned and can also increase the brain’s grey matter.
TOP TIP: TRY TAKING UP AN ACTIVITY that requires a lot of concentration such as learning to play a new musical instrument or dancing to increase brain function.
SO WHAT’S NEXT ON YOUR LEARNING LIST? WITH TRICKS LIKE THESE UP YOUR SLEEVE THERE’S NOTHING STOPPING YOU FROM ACHIEVING YOUR NET GOAL, AND FAST!
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