“One skill you want to master in this day and age we live in, if you want to have an extraordinary life, is the ability to learn rapidly.” — Anthony Robbins
The first step to learning any skill faster requires deconstructing the skill we want to learn. Deconstruction means taking something that is very large or complex and breaking it down into smaller pieces. Most, if not all, of the skills we want to learn are just bundles of smaller sub-skills that occur in combinations simultaneously.
By breaking these sub-skills down to their minimal components, you can figure out exactly what you need to learn, which sub-skills are important, and therefore which you should learn first.
Tim Ferriss shares his learning framework, called DiSSS:
- Deconstruction: What are the minimal learnable units I should be starting with?
- Selection: Which 20% of the blocks should I focus on for 80% or more of the outcome I want?
- Sequencing: In what order should I learn the blocks?
- Stakes: How do I set up stakes to create real consequences and guarantee I follow the program?
We’re going to refer to DiSSS a few times throughout this sequence.
So, how do we deconstruct a skill that we want to learn faster?
1. Have a goal
Knowing your end-goal is the most critical part to learning anything. It’s what will keep you focused towards a direction, and accountable when things get hard (which they always will).Advertising
For language learning, this could be to reach conversational fluency, with the ability to have a 60-minute conversation with a native speaker.
For learning guitar, it could be to play 5 of your favorite songs for your partner in 90 days.
It’s important to have a bigger purpose to learning that you can refer to when you inevitably lose motivation, as learning for the sake of learning rarely lasts.
When Michael Jordan got cut from his high school basketball team, he didn’t wake up every morning to shoot thousands of free throws so that he could make next year’s basketball team. His goal was to become the best player in the world.
2. Break it down to its LEGO blocks
The next step is to do some research online. Look at online forums or research the best language experts, business experts, or experts in whichever skill you want to master.
The goal here is to identify and list all the components involved when learning your skills, no matter how small. Don’t worry about being perfect, as you may not know all the components involved until you start, but list as many as you can before you start.
For example, if you want to become a powerful keynote speaker, it could be learning:Advertising
- Body language: hand gestures, eye contact, walking style and speed
- Presentation slides: design, flow of the slides, content
- Speaking: volume, speed, content
and so forth…
Laying out all the individual components will allow you to observe the individual sub-skills involved from the outside without feeling overwhelmed. More importantly, you can now see which parts you need to focus your efforts on to reach your goal.
3. Figure out why you may quit
The first few weeks, or even days, of learning a new skill is the hardest. It’s the vulnerable moments when we’re most likely to quit and lose motivation.
You should try avoiding these obstacle points completely, at least for the first five practice sessions. You can do this by breaking down all of the actions involved to acquire the skill. For language learning, it could be searching for the right teacher, having to take the bus to meet them everyday, and needing to do follow-up homework exercises after the lessons.
When we accumulate all of these actions that are required to acquire a skill, it can be pretty daunting. Initially, we should focus on just one of these actions. One easy way to get around this would be to work with a language teacher online, so you can avoid the pain points completely.
Tim Ferris did this when learning to swim. His pain points were difficulty breathing and exhaustion from kicking, so he discovered Total Immersion Swimming, which is shallow water swim training.
We all lose motivation eventually, and it’s better to know how you will deal with it ahead of time than face it straight on without any preparation.Advertising
4. Focus on the 20%
If you haven’t heard of Pareto’s Principle, you should read about it before continuing. The basis is that 20% of your efforts will lead to 80% of your desired outcome.
For language learning, 1200-2000 words is the range of the most common words you need to know in order to be conversationally fluent in any language in the world.
If your goal is to reach conversational fluency, it could be a simple as scheduling a weekly lesson with a language teacher who will provide you with immediate interaction and feedback.
If your goal is to play guitar fluently, it could be memorizing four chords that make up a majority of the popular songs.
If your goal is to become a better cook, you could choose 3 fancy dishes and become a master in learning those dishes.
Whichever sub-skill you decide to focus on, make sure they’re the most impactful ones, and focus all of your energy on them while removing any distractions along the way.
5. Focus on one sub-skill at a time
It may be tempting to jump in and learn multiple sub-skills at a time, especially if the end result is to master one skill. But, just as we get nothing done by multi-tasking when working, we’ll need to avoid multi-skill acquisition to maximize our progress.Advertising
As the founder of Rype, I personally hear from dozens of aspiring language students every week who are attempting to master their Spanish speaking skills and writing when they have yet to learn basic grammar rules.
It’s a common feat that all of us ambitious individuals have within us, but a weakness when it comes to mastering a skill faster.
Get good and master one sub-skill before moving on to the next. As long as you have Pareto’s Principle in mind, you’ll feel productive knowing that you’re focusing on the sub-skills that will result in 80% of your desired outcome.
That’s all it takes to become a learning master.
Remember: the first step is deconstructing your skill, and if you can manage to do this properly, you’re well on your way to becoming a learning expert.
Last Updated on October 17, 2018
7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory
How is your memory? Is your cognitive function as strong as you’d like it to be?
If not, then you’re definitely going to be interested in the memory improvement tips I’ll be sharing with you in this article.
Despite what you might think – or have been told – improving your ability to recall information is certainly possible. You just need to know the right ways to do it. (Don’t worry, as you won’t need to make any significant lifestyle changes.)
So how to improve memory? Let’s dive straight into the first of seven easy ways to improve your memory significantly.
We live in a world of non-stop, 24/7 information. It’s like a waterfall that’s endlessly pouring news, data, facts and figures into our conscious minds.
Unfortunately, our brains are not designed to absorb this tremendous amount of information. It’s no wonder then, that most people struggle to remember information and recall things.
Even if you believe you have a good memory and are comfortable with multi-tasking, you’ll also be aware that there’s only so much information your brain can process at one time. And research suggests that the more information and distractions, the harder it is for you to transfer information to your long-term memory.
Fortunately, meditation can help you out.
Even if you just meditate for 10 minutes per day, you’ll boost your ability to focus, which in turn, will make it easier for you to remember important facts.
If you need help in shifting into a meditative state, I recommend trying an app like Headspace – which can assist you to achieve this in a convenient and structured way.
And don’t forget, meditation doesn’t just have to be closing your eyes and sitting in a lotus position. Some people prefer to simply take a short walk in nature. This clears and calms their mind, and still provides the all-important boost to their focus.
2. Get plenty of sleep
If you’re sleep deprived or have not been sleeping well, then I’m guessing you’re not remembering well either. This is because sleep and memory are intimately connected.
If you have a busy life and regularly find yourself not getting enough sleep, then this will negatively impact your cognitive abilities – including your memory.
How much sleep should you be getting?
Well, according to the National Sleep Foundation, you need a minimum of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If you get this amount of sleep regularly, then within just a few days, you’ll see a tangible improvement to your ability to remember and recall things.
Now, I’ll be honest with you, maintaining a proper sleep cycle is not always easy (especially when the latest Netflix series has just been released!). But if you care about improving your short-term and long-term ability to remember things, then it’s critical that you try to get at least the recommended amount of sleep every night.
Are there ways to hack the sleep cycle?
Yes, there are.
Try these three things:
- Have a fixed bedtime (preferably before 10pm)
- Don’t eat too late
- Make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible
Sleeping is a precious activity. It regenerates your body, clears your mind, and helps with the storing and retrieval of information.
However, don’t sleep just yet, as I want to tell you about another great way to increase memory…
3. Challenge your brain
When was the last time you challenged your brain?
I don’t mean challenged in the sense of overeating or undersleeping. I’m referring to stretching your mental capabilities through things like crossword puzzles, Sudoku and memory games.
To expand your memory bank, and to make your recall razor-sharp, you need to continually challenge your brain.
Feedback from Lifehack readers such as yourself, has suggested that brain training apps are a super-effective way of doing this. Used regularly, these apps can enhance your focus, attention span, problem-thinking ability and memory.
There are hundreds of these apps available (most of them for free), but I recommend starting out with one of the big three:
- Peak (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
- Lumosity (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
- Elevate (Android/iOS, free, 5 million+ downloads)
If you normally spend a chunk of your week playing computer games, then instead of shooting and killing your enemies, why not let some of them live – while you put your attention into boosting your brain power!
Challenging your brain will strengthen your neural pathways and enhance your mental abilities. But don’t just take my word for it, try one of the apps above and see the positive benefits for yourself.
4. Take more breaks
When I think back to my days as a budding entrepreneur, I distinctively remember working all the hours under the sun – and many under the moon too!
At that time, I believed that breaks were for the weak, and to become wealthy and successful, I needed to shed blood, sweat and tears.
However, I was wrong.
Taking regular breaks is the best way to keep yourself productive, creative and alive to opportunities. It’s also the best way to learn new information.
Let me explain.
Typically, when studying lots of new information, most people will spend hours reading it – in an attempt to learn and remember the content as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, they’ve overlooked something.
Namely, extended study sessions are rarely a good thing, as your ability to retain information naturally declines after a certain period of time.
It’s similar to physical exercise. You wouldn’t attempt to train vigorously for four hours in a row. Instead, you’d take regular breaks to give your lungs, heart and muscles adequate time to recover. Failing to do this will result in muscle cramps and overexertion.
It’s the same with your brain. If you overload it with information, you’ll suffer from mental fatigue.
What’s the answer?
Make sure you take regular breaks when learning new information. I recommend at least a 10-minute break every hour. (You may also want to take a look at the Pomodoro Method.)
If you don’t want to be as regimented as that, then take breaks as soon as you find yourself losing the ability to focus on the new material. Your brain will thank you – and your learning aptitude will move up a level.
5. Learn a new skill
I love this quote, as it’s 100% true – but frequently overlooked:
“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci
From my experience of helping to develop the careers of dozens of Lifehack employees, I can definitively say that participating in meaningful and purposeful activities stimulates the mind. It also reduces stress and enhances health and well-being.
Let me give you an example of this:
Imagine you work for a global financial institution in one of their call centers. You take over 100 calls a day – many of them complaints. When you started the job a few months back, you were excited to be in full-time employment and working for a household name.
Unfortunately, your initial enthusiasm quickly turned into frustration.
The endless complaint calls began to take their toll on you. And the supervisors irritated you too, as they were far too interested in micro-managing you – rather than letting you work in your own way.
Now, in the story above, the ending could be that you put up with a job you didn’t like, and led a dull and frustrated working life for years and years. However, an alternative ending is this: you channeled your dissatisfaction in to learning a new skill (computer coding). It took you a year or two to get up to speed, but it allowed you to successfully upgrade your career – and the ongoing learning made the call centre job much more bearable.
Clearly, learning new skills gives you impetus, focus and something to aim for. Your brain loves to learn, and you should tap into this by always seeking our new information. And when learning becomes a habit, you’ll find your ability to remember and recall things effortlessly, becomes a habit too.
6. Start working out
If you’re not already working out regularly, then here’s another reason to do so:
Exercising for 20-30 minutes three times a week will improve your long-term memory.
Regular exercise increases blood flow in your body and supplies the brain with extra oxygen and nutrients. And a well-nourished brain is a well-functioning brain!
“But I just don’t have the time?,” I hear you say.
Not a problem.
A research has shown that a daily burst of 60 seconds of high-intensity exercise, offered many of the benefits of the longer exercise routines. So, if you’re short on time – now you know what to do.
Interested in getting started?
Here are five different ways that will help you work out:
- Join a gym
- Join a sports team
- Buy a bike
- Take up hiking
- Dance to your favorite music
7. Eat healthier foods
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: “You are what you eat.”
This applies to your brain too.
The food that you eat helps determine your brain’s capacity to store and recall information. A poor diet (think junk food + soda!) harms not just your physical health, but your mental health too.
Fortunately, there are several foods that are especially good for your brain and your memory. These include: blueberries, celery and dark chocolate. But anything high in antioxidants will have a positive effect on your brain and memory.
Conversely, highly-processed foods and those loaded with sugar will have a negative impact on your memory. This is due to them providing insufficient nutrients for your brain – leading you to easily suffer from mental fatigue.
Want to be mentally healthy? Then eat and drink an abundance of these for brain health:
- Turmeric – helps new brain cells grown
- Broccoli – protects the brain against damage
- Nuts – improves memory
- Green tea – enhances brain performance, memory and focus
- Fish oil – fish oil supplements can increase your brain power
Here’re more brain food options that improve memory!
I sincerely hope these seven memory boosting ways that I’ve covered in this article will be of help to you.
You don’t need to implement them all. I suggest just trying the ones that appeal to you.
But, if you’re serious about dramatically improving your memory, then make a start right now on adopting one or more of the ways I’ve suggested. I’m confident you won’t regret it.
Featured photo credit: Eric Ward via unsplash.com