If you’re going to spend time reading one thing today, read this. It might just change your life…
You are the average student. Your alarm goes off in the morning, a little earlier than you would like, and you drag yourself out of bed and downstairs for breakfast (if you have time) ans start your journey to school/college/university. You manage to push on through the day, just about manage not to sleep in that boring lecturer’s session this time. You sit through your next seminar, wondering whether or not the teacher is speaking English. The bell rings… it’s time to go home!
Your mind fills with all the things you’d love to do – hang out at your friend’s house, go to the cinema, play basketball at the local park, practice a musical instrument… but then reality hits you. You’ve got exams in a couple of weeks and you really should revise. These ones are important after all. Back to your room you go…
Sound familiar? Student life is tough. There’s so much to do in so little time. If only you could have more free time!
Well guess what, you can. And I’m here to tell you how. The principles presented below have been tried and tested by many hugely successful people and I guarantee that if you follow the recommendations below, you will learn faster. And do you know what that means? Less time studying and more time doing what you want to do with your life. Invest time now in becoming an accelerated learner and you will reap the rewards for the rest of your life.
The six steps to learning faster
There are six main things you should do in order to learn faster:
1. Decide what your are going to learn
This is arguably the most important step. Prioritise – decide what the single most important thing for you to learn at that moment in time is then focus solely on that task. Don’t set yourself unrealistic amounts of work to do, or you’ll continuously get frustrated, but equally don’t set the bar too low or you may fall victim to Parkinson’s Law. The best way to start learning is to:
2. Create the optimal conditions for learning
Create the best external and internal environment to enhance your learning.
3. Prepare for Information intake
This should be guided by you. Before you start, ask yourself the following questions:
Work out how you best take in information. You may have heard of ‘visual’, ‘audio’ and ‘kinaesthetic’ learners. In reality, everyone uses a combination of the three to varying degrees. Research different techniques, and come up with your own, that utilise the different modalities – put them into practice and see what works for you.
4. learn and memorise the information
A lot of research has been done into memory consolidation and it has been well established that spaced repetition is one of the best ways to learn and remember information. Every time you recall a piece of information from your own memory, this memory will be strengthened and thus you will remember it for longer.
A practical way to apply this information is as follows: when you learn some new information, for example in a lesson or a revision session, recall it from memory. You should review your notes after about one hour, then one day, then one week, then one month, then six months and then one year. You will be amazed by how much you can remember, and how long for, if you follow this pattern. Also note that the principle is much more important than the exact time spacing – feel free to adjust it around your life and schedule as required.
A useful piece of free software that can help with spaced recall is ‘Anki’, which is available on computers as well as smart phones. It lets you create your own flashcards then will present them to you at increasing time intervals.
5. Test Yourself
There’s no way to be certain that you’ve taken on board new information until you test yourself. Here are some suggestions but feel free to come up with your own:
This stage is important as it will highlight to what level you understand the information. It is an easy and common trap to fall into to simply rote learn something without truly understanding it. If you develop a true understanding of a topic, you will remember it much better as you will be able to ‘work it out’ based on the parts that you can remember.
6. Reflect and improve for next time
Learning is a continuous process that you will continue to do for the rest of your life, whether you realise it or not. The rate at which you learn is largely determined by the amount of time you spend reflecting on your learning and thinking of ideas for improvement.
The key with all of the aforementioned steps is to experiment continuously and critically assess what is working and what isn’t. Don’t be disheartened if you can’t see obvious improvement at times – progression is rarely linear and I can promise that if you persist you will see massive changes over time.
Ask yourself these questions regularly: What worked well and what didn’t? Where could you improve?
Other ways that you can increase that rate at which you learn include:
Congratulations now you know how to learn faster!
However, having read this article will mean nothing if you don’t start to applying it to your life. Act now. Print this off and put it on your wall, by your desk, or somewhere else where you will see it often. Save it on your phone. Email it to your friends and family and discuss your progress together. Repeat these six steps over and over until it becomes second nature. You will be amazed by what you can achieve – there really are no limits on what you can do.
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