Life is long enough that you can learn to do some pretty neat things. You might have to learn a new skill for work or some information for a test. Maybe you just want to learn a new language, to play an instrument, or how to shoot a bow and arrow.
You won’t experience much that’s new if you don’t learn something new. Since time is often at a premium, learning quickly is important.
- Learn over time. It’s much more effective to learn something for one hour each day for a week than to attempt to cram it all into your head over seven hours in one day. Consider breaking up your learning even further and give the subject your attention multiple times each day.
- One study showed that it was significantly more effective for beginners to practice piano five times each day for five minutes than it was to practice once for 25 minutes.
- Create the right environment. You’ll accomplish more if you learn in an environment free of distractions. Imagine trying to learn how to swing a golf club next to a construction site on a sweltering day. How well could you learn Japanese with someone talking on the phone beside you?
- It’s not always possible to control your environment 100% but do the best you can. Remove as many distractions and be as comfortable as possible.
- Get a good coach. Coaches know what matters. You might think you know the most important aspect of learning a particular task, but you might be wrong. Coaches can also spot mistakes and correct them instantly. Coaches are also good at holding you accountable. Why not get an expert on your side?
- Get some exercise first. Just 15 minutes of exercise can improve your memory and ability to process new information. Hop on a treadmill or do some calisthenics for 15 minutes or more before tackling a new learning project.
- Get some sleep. Inadequate sleep has been demonstrated to result in decreased reaction times, memory, learning ability, and even your use of proper grammar. Ensure you’re getting enough sleep.
- Avoid studying the things you already know. Imagine that you’re reviewing facts or vocabulary words on flashcards. Avoid reviewing information you know by heart. If you’re learning a new piece of piano music, avoid practicing the parts you can already play. It’s a very inefficient way to learn.
- Use a variety of media and senses to learn the information. Reading information can be effective, but it’s even more effective if you read it to yourself, recite it aloud, listen to a podcast, and watch a video on the topic. On top that, writing information down can be the best way to learn and remember.
- Set a deadline. It’s common knowledge that tasks will expand to fill the time available. By setting a deadline, you can force yourself to work more consistently on learning the topic or skill. Without a deadline, it’s much easier to wait until “tomorrow” to get serious.
- Be optimistic. In turns out that pessimists are more accurate at determining their current level of skill, but optimists ultimately learn things at a higher level. Have confidence and high expectations for yourself. You’ll ultimately learn more.
Learning is a huge component of life. Some learning is mandatory, especially in school or work environments. But, most learning is optional. You can learn about anything you want. One thing is for certain: the faster you can learn, the more you’ll be able to learn.