Hello, everybody! You are listening to the 22nd episode of Sensibly Happy podcast. This episode is about how to learn things efficiently.
You have probably asked yourself: “what makes one person more successful than another?” And this is a really valid question. Because if it’s something which we can control, we can use it in our daily life and be more successful as well. I’m convinced that there are some reusable ingredients of success. In this episode we are talking about how to make the learning process more efficient and pleasant. Also, we discuss some useful tips and tricks that will help you to succeed.
Making the educational process more productive
Hello dear listeners!
I hope you’re doing well and you’re ready to continue new topic. To be precise, the topic is not new, but the perspective for most of you would be unexpected. Let’s speak about the process of learning. Starting with our birth and to the last day of our lives, we are in a continuous process of education. We learn what life is, how to make money with this or that profession, how to build relationships, and how to be happy.
Most part of our education is an unconscious process, but we also spend our time and efforts for some specific purpose. We set some goals, then search for sources of information, and then we spend some time reading, listening, watching and, sometimes, practicing. What do you think about yourself? Are you a quick learner? Is every topic that you try to cover easy for you to digest?
Try to recall the cases when you had a goal to learn something new, but it wasn’t easy; and you were struggling with the information you had, and you were upset by results. How many cases in your past can you recall right now? And then ask yourself again. Are you a quick learner? What do you think about yourself when you just can’t understand or remember a part of information and, at the same time, people who surround you do it much easier than you. And here is the problem. You waste your time and energy, but you don’t receive expected results and it hurts you. It hurts your self-esteem, and you become less happy.
So, what is this episode about? It is about the ideas on how to make your process of education more productive, and make yourself happier. If you want to know more about this subject, continue listening, collect additional questions, and write those questions to me afterwards.
We can’t force our brains to cram more information
From previous episodes, you know that self-discipline is a good approach in most cases. But here’s the thing: stuffing your brain with tons of information by reading and listening hours and hours doesn’t help a lot. And that’s why the process of studying should be much more sophisticated. Let’s think about the cases when you are motivated to digest new information and do it easily.
Being driven by the topic
The first case is when you are driven by the topic. You’re excited about it, you love the topic, this could be your hobby, and you want more and more information about this. You don’t need to eat or sleep, you don’t need a system of grades to track your achievements. All you need is to know more about the topic, and this is the best scenario. But, unfortunately, it’s not always like that and you know that.
An entertaining teacher
The second case is when a trainer or a teacher is a charismatic or entertaining person. Often, when adults ask children about their favorite discipline, children name the discipline with the best teacher. And doesn’t matter if this exact child likes the discipline or not, because time spent on those classes is the most joyful for the child. And here is an idea for you: when you’re studying something new, and you’re able to select the teacher or trainer, especially if you’re not obliged to select someone from this exact school or university, and you’re able to select some online influencer, then do this! Select an entertainer. Because memory is strongly connected to our emotions. And the more emotions we have during the process of education, the more effective the process will be.
Being driven by the problem
The third case, when we are highly motivated to learn something new, is when we have faced with a problem or dilemma, and then we need to solve it. And this episode, we will focus more on this third scenario,
Classical education often fails
Thinking a lot about the problem of education, about why schools and colleges are not always effective, I’ve realized one interesting thing: in most cases, in my experience, when I started studying a new discipline, teachers didn’t explain to me what exact problems that information helps to solve. And it was really strange for me. Why should I spend hours and hours trying to understand the topic without understanding what it is needed for? And of course, my motivation was really low, as well as grades at the end. I thought to myself that I wasn’t as smart as other students around me. And of course, it wasn’t the best feeling. I was struggling with all that information, with all those disciplines, and it was a really tough call for me to remember all that information.
Changing our filters of attention
And only after finishing university, I came to an interesting idea. The idea came to my mind after I realized that when I’m reading a book for the second time, I see some new details, which I didn’t see the previous time. And it was strange for me. The same letters, the same words, the same paper… Why didn’t I notice that information for the first time?
And then, I found the answer, the answer that helped me to improve my educational process in any sphere. Have you ever had the same feeling, that while reading some book for the second time, you notice new details? Why do you think it works like that? Do you become more attentive or wiser? Have you changed your skills of reading? What is the reason? I know the answer.
The reason is that between those two readings you get new experience and you change your filters of attention. Our brain can’t consume and analyze everything which surrounds us. That’s why it uses filters of attention. And when we have some problems, some questions, our brain starts filtering the information to find the answers. Before the first reading of the book we get one set of problems and questions and we notify one part of information, but after that first reading, we get new experience with new questions and dilemmas; and our brain starts looking for new answers. And that’s why we notify new things in the same book, because our brain is chasing for it. And that’s why you can’t just fill up your brain, your memory with new information because our brains simply rejects that information as useless.
Of course, you can use some techniques, you can be very persistent and get some results. But how much does it cost you? How much effort and how much time? And still, your brain whispers to you, “It is useless! It is useless, you’re wasting your time!” And you’re saying to yourself, “No, no, I should do this! I should complete this!” And you become the person stuffed with theory, but you can improve the process of learning by changing your approach.
A message for teachers
Here is a message for teachers: at the very beginning, please, tell your students why they need to know that discipline, why it is useful, what types of interesting problems it helps to solve, how it can change the world for a better one. Please, help your students with that kind of motivation.
Find a problem to solve
Now returning back to the topic, you have a goal to learn something new. The best way is to find the problem that you will be motivated to solve. If it’s possible, find questions which are related to your hobby or current interest. This will motivate you to find answers by consuming more information. If you’re not able to find these types of questions, then find ordinary questions related to this exact topic that you plan to cover. But another good approach is when you need to help someone else by providing the information you need to learn. Think about it. Where can you find the person who also needs to keep that kind of knowledge. And communicating with that person and taking the role of a teacher for that person, your motivation will increase dramatically.
Plan your learning process
Now, let’s talk a little bit about the planning. Because if you want to have some results, you definitely need to have some plan.
1. Learning path
First of all, while studying you need to understand and feel the learning path. You should know what kind of information you need to obtain, what are the checkpoints and blocks of information, and how deeply you need to go into each of those blocks; how much time you have in general, and how much time each day you need to spend on it. If you have a teacher or mentor, then ask that person about the plan. Because without having that plan, you cannot feel your progress. And without having the feeling of progress, it often seems that you stay at the same place.
2. Use resourceful state
The second thing, you should analyze your most resourceful state. What approach of studying gives you best results? What part of the day is the most resourceful for you? What conditions do you need to have to perform the best? You need all that to have the biggest gain.
3. Dedicate some time
The third ingredient of success is to dedicate time specifically to learning. You should clear that part of the day from other tasks, from other thoughts. You can even turn off your phone because every distraction drastically decreases your performance. And please, forget multitasking, it doesn’t help in the process of learning.
4. Use short sessions
And the fourth part of the success is to split your education process into short sessions, 25-30 minutes each, and by having 10-15 minute breaks between each of those sessions. Please, reward yourself for every block or every checkpoint you’ve achieved. The reward could be anything you like.
Improving the process of education
Now, a little bit about the process of education. You already have a plan, you have a schedule, you have the dedicated time for learning in your day. How to improve the educational process itself? There are several approaches which will let you consume the information easier.
a) Use different activities
One thing you should understand, the more passively you study, the longer you study. So, you should be involved in different activities, or different ways of learning of the same topic. It is better to combine listening, reading, watching and discussions. The more you combine, the better the results will be.
b) Collab with others
Also, it’s more effective to collaborate with others while solving a problem. When you select some problems or questions that you want to find the answer for, engage with other people who are also in the same process right now. Discuss, argue with them, involve emotions. Because emotions for learning are like a machine oil for an engine.
c) Use multiple and understandable sources
One more thing, while you search for information in Google, or YouTube, or any other kind of search engine, don’t stick to the first search result. Look into 5-10 different relative sources from that search engine and select those where information is being provided in most digestible way. You don’t need to spend time trying to understand what the author wanted to say.
d) Subconscious processing of information
There is one amazing approach for generating ideas, answers, or simply structuring the information that you’ve recently received. And this approach is to use your subconsciousness. There are different studies that prove this approach works. What is this approach about? You have a problem or a question, and it stays in your mind; then, you stuff your brain, your memory with a lot of related information, and then you leave it as is and change your activity (for sleep or physical activities, like jogging or cycling). For me, the time when I’m taking a shower also works. During one of those activities, your brain continues working. And on a subconscious level, your brain tries to find a solution or answers to the question by processing the information you’ve just received. You probably had that pleasant feeling that at some point you realized, “Yes, here’s the answer! How easy it was!” And this is the exact example of how your brain on the subconscious level can provide you with the solutions.
It was about the process of consuming new information, but there are also several tricks on how you can fasten the result, how you can boost the result. You already spend some time on reading or listening, but you can spend 10-15% more of your time and have much better results.
· Make notes
The first trick is to write well-structured notes: with different bullet points, checkboxes, images. And it’s always better to do it by hand on a piece of paper.
· Summarize everything
The second idea is to summarize every part of the information you’ve just learned. You can explain and write down in simple words what you’ve just learned.
· Share the information
As for me, the best trick is to tell about that new knowledge to someone else: what’s interesting about it, how it can be used, and how that can influence our life. And of course, a better way is to teach someone else who needs that information too.
· Quizzes and exercises
It’s really good if you have different quizzes or exercises, and you can complete them and track the results: what answers or solutions were wrong/right. And this is what you should do after every block of information you receive.
· Getting feedback
And it’s much more effective if you can discuss your results in completing quizzes or exercises with an expert, or at least with a person who knows that topic. You will receive feedback, you will know more about best practice in that area, and you will remember more.
How about you?
How many of those tricks that you’ve just heard you’re using in your life, in your educational process? Do you realize how you can increase your current learning process by using all those approaches? There is an area for improvement for you.
Your task for the next week
- Step one: select the discipline that you’re already in the process of learning or planning to learn in the nearest future.
- The second step: plan your learning process using planning techniques from this episode.
- The third step: analyze in what kind of activities you could be involved to increase speed and performers of education, who you could collaborate with, what kind of physical activities you’d want to use after the learning sessions, and so on.
- The fourth step: analyze and plan how you can boost your learning results. Prepare a notebook for taking notes, and for writing summaries, select people with whom you will share your fresh cognitions, search for quizzes and exercises to choose from and think how you can find an expert who could provide feedback on your exercises.