As human beings we are capable of learning an incredible number of things over the course of our lifetime. And our ability and thirst for learning never slackens, meaning that age never need be a factor, while the internet has facilitated access to learning the likes of which has never before been available in history.
But whether you want to learn a language, a technical skill, or how to play a musical instrument, when you learn, learn smart. That is, follow these practical tips to help you learn in an efficient way so that you can begin to implement your learning quickly and effectively.
Isolated pieces of information do not help in the greater scheme of things, the bigger picture is always key. That means you have to make the connections between all aspects of what you are learning. Visualizing, or drawing diagrams are both extremely effective approaches in the accomplishment of this task. Making mind maps can help you learn much faster and better as well as connecting elements of your different subjects to create a full picture of things and learn with ease.
The fact is we cannot do anything to the best of our ability if our minds and bodies are not in healthy working condition. Therefore, anything that does to assist in good physical and mental health will assist greatly in your ability to learn something. Eating well, drinking lots of water, taking regular exercise and sleeping sufficiently are all integral components of this approach.
Learn before bedtime
Research suggests that we are better at retaining information if we sleep (well) soon after. This has been proven true time and time again in research related to students studying for exams – sleep helps in the retention of that all-important information. Cramming all night before an exam, therefore, is folly, and is to avoided at all costs. You can also learn and then take a short nap as it will enable you to memorize things in the best way possible.
Impart your knowledge on someone else
One of the best ways to test your knowledge or skill is to then try imparting that knowledge and skill onto another, in the form of teaching. Become a tutor in your school or just work with someone who needs a bit of help so that you can learn better. This is why having a study partner or a group is an effective and smart thing to do.
Join study groups
Learning can be a lonely task at times, unless you make it much more social by joining the likes of study groups. Not only will this help you enjoy the task, but sharing ideas and bouncing opinions off one another will reinforce what you already know and help you grasp concepts that are yet to sink it. Conduct a little bit of research to discover any opportunities near you, and if you cannot meet physically, there are any number of online forums and communities which perform the same function.
Diversify your learning
For efficient learning, mix up your learning strategies and content. If all you are doing is reading, then look for other way in which you can seek and retain information – by listening for example. Diversifying the learning process also makes the task more interesting, which will help with motivation levels too. Never get bogged down in doing the same old thing day after day – this goes against the very essence of effective learning.
Studying for ten hours straight may sound good, and people may revel in sharing these anecdotes, but the truth of the matter is that it makes very little sense to perform in this way. When we get tired, both physically and mentally, we do not perform anywhere near optimum level, and this is true therefore when we fail to take sufficient breaks.
It’s not about memorizing
It’s about understanding. The old-fashioned an ineffective way of memorizing information simply to regurgitate it for an exam has thankfully been seen for what it is, so now it is about understanding the bigger picture, and implementing as quickly as possible what you have learned into practice so a practical element helps to cement that understanding.
Don’t spread yourself too thinly
Don’t try to attempt to learn half a dozen new things at once. If you want to become an expert at one particular activity, then you need to prioritize that activity. That means sole focus to the improvement, learning and retention of one specific skill. Focus on one subject at a time and make sure that you understand it completely.
The fact is, you will not succeed if you only implement one of two of these tips. Effective learning involves the embracing of all aspects mentioned herein. And most importantly of all, try to enjoy the ride, for if you don’t motivation will soon be lost.