How to learn faster: the 19 proven ways for effective learning

Life Coach Christina Andree Saks on how to learn faster

Today we dive into the topic how to learn faster and how you can adopt the 19 proven ways for effective learning. Staying competitive in the market often means learning new things. Therefore learning and renewal are one of the seven most important areas of life. In order to live a fulfilled life and be happy, we should always be striving to learn new things and grow. And the more we can learn, the faster we can grow and the more value we can provide to the world. So you need to speed up the learning process and make the most of your time. Thanks to neuroscience it has given us a better understanding of how our brains process and store new information and how we can learn even faster.

Are you struggling with a new technology, or do you study a foreign language? Do you want to learn an advanced skill, expand your professional network or even change your career direction?

Being an effective learner can give you an even greater opportunity. So get familiar with the most effective ways to study and learn new things. There are 19 proven ways to learn and retain something faster.

Take notes in your words

Reporting and reframing the information in your own words helps you learn new things faster and retain the information longer.

Take notes by hand for even faster learning

Though it might seem that typing notes on your laptop, tablet, or smartphone during a conference will be more handful, it does not work that way. To activate your brain more and speed up your learning processes, skip your devices and go old-fashion. Take notes with pen and paper. While writing out is slower than typing, the act of writing by hand helps you learn and comprehend better. Research has shown that those who used to take notes by hand also learn more. For example, researchers at Princeton University and UCLA found that taking notes by hand leads to more active listening. Students who wrote down their notes were able to identify important concepts better. On the contrary, taking notes on a laptop leads to mindless transcription and is willing to distract students from the learning process through emails or other notifications. Students who took notes on laptops performed worse on conceptual questions than students who took notes by hand.

Learn effective note-taking techniques

Take into account that the better your notes are and the better they look, the faster you learn. Knowing how to take accurate notes will help you remember concepts, gain a deeper understanding of the topic and develop meaningful learning skills. So, learn different strategies and note-taking techniques, which will help you transform and organize new information into easily digestible form.

Here are some common tips for note-taking for your faster learning:

  • Focus on listening and take accurate notes in your own words;
  • Leave some space between lines so you can revisit your notes later and add information to the main ideas;
  • Develop a basic and consistent system of abbreviations to save time. You can use visual symbols too;
  • Write in simple phrases instead of complete sentences;
  • Pick up important ideas and ignore trivial information.

Distribute your study sessions

Use distributing multiple practices on a topic over a period of time. You can do short, spaced-out sessions while studying. Distributed study practice will encourage meaningful learning. 

First, you need to take thorough notes while discussing the topic. After, take a few minutes to look over your notes. You can make additions, changes, and add details to ensure accuracy.

Spacing will accelerate your learning 

You can use the power of mental spacing in order to learn faster. Spacing out study practice over a lengthier period is highly effective. Follow the instructions from the previous item and repeat each class several times. Over time, you can begin to spread the sessions out. For instance, you can start with one per day and ultimately move to three times a week. It is easier to do short study sessions instead of long ones. Also doing so, you will stay motivated to keep learning.

This is what Benedict Carey, an author of How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens, says about learning: “You can water a lawn once a week for 90 minutes or three times a week for 30 minutes,” he said. “Spacing out the watering during the week will keep the lawn greener over time.”

To maintain the new information, it is best to check out the material one to two days after major studying it. Because the brain pays less attention during short learning intervals, repeating the information over a few days or a week later sends a stronger signal to the brain that it needs to keep the knowledge.

Study, sleep, eat, repeat

Sleeping between two learning sessions boosts retention. Research shows a strong connection between sleep and learning. Deep sleep or non-rapid-eye-movement sleep can intensify memories if you sleep within 12 hours of learning the new things. The same research also shows that students who both study and get plenty of sleep not only perform better academically but also are happier. In practice, it means that when you stay up too late in the night trying to squeeze all the information before the big project or presentation is not the most efficient way for your brain to process knowledge. After all, you will be exhausted the whole next day.

Rest is essential when it comes to retaining new information. So, you need to get sleep in between study hours. According to the new psychological research, doing so can boost your memory up to six months later. Not just sleeping after learning is absolutely a great strategy, but also sleeping between learning sessions incredibly enhances learning practice.

Use brain breaks to restore your focus

Are you trying to study hard overloading yourself with the large amount of new information? If so, you should keep in mind this: Information overload does not serve you. In fact, when we are learning new things, our brains send signals to our sensory receptors to collect the new information. The other fact says that overload, as well as stress, discourages the brain from effectively processing and saving knowledge.

Negative emotions such as confusion, anxiousness and feeling overwhelmed make our brains lockdown. You probably can remember situations when you can not focus on things and stop paying attention to what should be comprehended. What happens with your brains when you are overwhelmed? They just are not able to effectively manage and conduct that amount of information, so they close down. You can prevented this from happening by having a brain break. It helps your brain restore its ability to process and contain information. The best way to do this is simply switch your activity and focus on something different. For instance, a five- or ten-minute break can reduce brain tiredness and help you keep your focus on what you learn.

Use micro learning sessions

Experts at the Louisiana State University’s Center for Academic Success advise committing 30-50 minutes to learning new substance. Brief, frequent learning sessions are much better than longer, infrequent ones. Once you are done with one session, take a five to 10 minute break before you start another session.

You can try to use micro learning sessions. Make note cards by hand for the more difficult concepts you are trying to master. You never know when you will have some in-between time to take advantage to study them.

Try the pomodoro technique

You can try one good focusing technique called the Pomodoro technique. According to it you study or work hard for a 25-minute interval and then take a 5-minute pause shifting you attention to something new. For taking the Pomodoro technique into use, you need a kitchen timer or you can set the alarm on your phone. 25 minutes is the time when you have to concentrate on just one task and then switch your focus off the working for the next five minutes. Simple, isn’t it?

Vary your learning practice

When learning a new skill, changing the way you practice it can help you master it faster. So, If you are learning a new skill, do not repeat the same thing over and over again.

Studies show that making little modifications during learning sessions will help you achieve your goals faster than repeating the same strategy every time. In the test done at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where the participants were asked to learn a computer-based task, those who used a modified learning technique during their second learning round performed better than those who repeated the same strategy.

The research shows that unification plays a key role in maintaining skills. So, if you practice a slightly varied version of a task you want to master, you will learn more effectively and faster than if you just keep exercising exactly the same technique many times.

But this only works if the changes are slight because making big modifications do not help. So, try to focus on your study goals and make just tiny changes in the learning strategy for quicker learning.

Use patterns in order to learn faster

One of the best ways to remember new information fast is to use patterns or mnemonic devices. They are letters, sounds or other associations that help learning new things. For example, the alphabet song we learned in kindergarten is the one of the most popular patterns. This song helps little children memorize their “ABCs,” so it stays deeply rooted in our memory for the whole life.

Mnemonic devices and memory patterns help you simplify and sum up knowledge to make it easier to learn it faster. They can be very effective for you while studying a new language. So, find out and use mnemonics if you have to remember and keep in mind massive amounts of new information. Surely, you will find that you memorize the data quicker and for a long time.

Activate more of your senses in multiple ways

Changing the way you practice a new motor skill can help you master it faster. When you learn something new in multiple ways, you activate more areas of your brain to store information on the topic. Doing this interconnect the new information with the existed one in your brain. It basically builds a redundancy of knowledge within your memory, helping you learn and deeply understand the things. So, activate as much of your senses as possible to learn more and even faster. You can do this simply by employing multiple media to stimulate different regions of your brain. For example, you can read your notes out loud, tell someone what you have just learned, watch a video, listen to a podcast or audio file on the topic. The more resources you use, the quicker you will learn.

Connect what you just learn with existing knowledge

The more you can relate new information to the concepts you already know, the better you will understand and the faster you will learn the new ideas. Because many traditional study methods are ineffective, they may create an illusion of proficiency. But the fact is that the new information will disappear away from your mind as soon as you stop actively repeating it.

Memory plays a key role in our ability to execute and complete tricky cognitive tasks when it comes to applying ideas to problem-solving. Especially when it forces us to solve complicated problems we have not met before and brings out conceptions from knowledge already learned. So every time you learn something new try to find ways to confirm the new information with existing knowledge. Doing so, you will find extra edges of meaning in the new stuff. Moreover, this will help you fundamentally understand the new material deeper, so you will be able to remember it better.

Use mental hooks to learn faster

Elon Musk views knowledge as a “semantic tree.” When it comes to learning new things, he recommends making sure you understand the principles, which are the trunk and big branches of the semantic tree. After you have got the main point of the subject, you can continue to the details or leaves of the tree. On contrary, there is nothing for them to attach to. When you connect the new information to the old concepts, you give yourself mental hooks on which to hang the new knowledge.

Share knowledge in order to remember it better

Accordingly to a research done at Washington University in St. Louis you can speed up your learning and remember more if you teach others the material or skill you are trying to master. It will make the expectation shift your mindset so that you employ more effective strategies to learn.

When teachers or instructors prepare to teach, they manage to search fundamental aspects and arrange the information into a coherent and logical system. Studies have shown that students also used these sorts of effective learning methods when they prepare to teach.

Visualise to learn new skills

Visualization is the practice of imagining what you want to achieve in the future. As if it were truth today. Nowadays, everyone from professional athletes to successful CEOs benefits from visualization techniques. So after you practice your new skill or watch a video lesson start mastering it in your mind. It helps you achieve your learning goals faster.

Try hypnosis for effective learning

The fact is that many of us suffer from obstacles that prevent us from being a master in some activity. Do you love to sing but are afraid of singing outloud when not alone? Or are you immigrants suffering from the language barrier and avoiding speaking to people? Or are you a so-called perfectionist who can not never get things done? All these, as many other commonly known people’s problems, could be solved with hypnotherapy. Contact the coach to get additional information on hypnosis for productive learning and overcome all your obstacles.

Make your lifestyle to support your studying

What about your lifestyle? You should remember, that Eating and moving are also essential when it comes to studying new things. So, try to find ways to get as much energy as possible, and you can do whatever it takes to master new skills in a short period of time. In order to self-improve you can create your personal growth plan with our free 7 Spheres of Self-Improvement Program.

Listen to podcast version on Anchor, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or wherever you want to listen podcasts.

Published by Christina A. Saks

Christina A. Saks - yrityksesi yhteisömanageri aina valmiina auttamaan

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