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8 Things Quick Learners Never Do

8 Things Quick Learners Never Do

There are some people who struggle to remember a few pages of new information or take months to learn the very basics of a new skill, and then there are those who seem to magically conquer all intellectual challenges within a week. Apart from those who are incredibly intelligent or full-blown geniuses, there are a lot of quick learners with average or slightly above-average intellectual capacities.

So, how do they do it? Well, I can tell you that a lot of hard work goes into it, but they also know how not to waste time, have an incredibly efficient approach to learning, and are consistent. People see that you have picked up a lot of new information in just a week, but they don’t see the hours of work that you put in behind the scenes.

Let’s look as some of the things that quick learners never do, and the strategies that you should use instead.

1. Doing tons of research and never actually applying it in real life

This is something that I am guilty of myself, but when that hoarding instinct kicks in all you want to do is find every tiny bit of information on a topic before you really buckle down and start learning. What you often end up doing is collecting research that covers all the major categories and subcategories from several different angles, and even plenty of extensive information on some of the minutia that not a lot of people know about.

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This isn’t a bad thing in itself, but you spend a lot of time accumulating material for your mini-library instead of actually learning anything. Sooner or later, merely glancing at the mountain of knowledge gives you the chills. You know that there is a lot of ground to cover, so you wait for the right opportunity to sit down and start learning.

Quick learners start with the basics and keep eating up any additional information as soon as they find it – they will download a couple of eBooks and forget about additional research until they are done with them. What this allows you to do is gradually expand your knowledge day by day, and allow those fragments of knowledge to quickly add up over the course of a few months.

2. Filling their heads with non-essential information

Another problem with stockpiling tons of research is that you risk wasting hours of your time on non-essential and even outright unnecessary information. You may want to cover a broad range of topics in the beginning to get acquainted with a particular area, but you’ll want to start focusing on a specific area of interest soon after covering the basics. Find the things that are relevant to your work, that you enjoy the most, and try to filter out the fluff.

3. Try to go at it alone without asking for help

I find the notion of having to do something on your own in the age of the internet quite ridiculous. You don’t have to go reinvent the wheel or start from the very basics and learn through trial and error every time you start a new project, pick up a new skill, or want to learn more about a particular topic. You can find tons of great resources online, and most of them are free.

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In fact, I would strongly advise networking on social media, visiting specialized forums that cover the topics you are interested in, and even starting a blog, where you can share your experiences and thoughts with like-minded people. Blogging is a great example of building a community to help you learn a lot about a topic fairly quickly.

If you want to become a fast learner focus on building connections, so that you can bounce your ideas between different people and ask for help when you get stuck.

4. Rushing through the basics

We see this with students who are learning a new subject, people who start training at the gym, and even gamers that start playing a competitive game – even if you think the basic stuff is boring, you will have to keep going over certain points to really get a hang of them. Everyone wants to move on to the more interesting things or become an expert overnight, but rushing things will cause you to have big holes in your knowledge.

The quickest learners paradoxically spend a longer time on gaining a deeper understanding of the basics than most other people. Once they are confident that they have a strong foundation their learning pace picks up and they fly past everyone else soon enough.

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5. Biting off more than they can chew

While a healthy drive to push yourself to achieve more is a good thing, allowing your ambition to cloud your ability for rational judgement is not. It may look perfectly reasonable to set a big goal for yourself at the beginning of the month, e.g. read 10.000 pages of material related to business and personal development but life has a tendency of throwing tons of fun little problems and other distractions your way.

You have to learn how to make smart decisions, and this takes time and careful deliberation. Set a bare minimum that you’ll be able to manage even if you have under slept, are tired after a long day at work, and have several chores to complete, and try to at least hit those numbers each day. If you can manage more that is fine but if not at least you’ll know that you’re learning at a manageable pace.

6. Being satisfied with where they are

It’s easy to let a bit of initial success go to your head, and to simply give up on improving any further once you have attained a basic level of competence. There is something called the Dunning-Kruger effect, which states that as a person becomes more competent they start to see just how vast a subject really is and understand that there is a whole lot they yet have to learn.

You should never be satisfied with where you are and should strive to constantly improve – learning new things then becomes a normal part of your day, and you keep eating up information.

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7. Waiting for the stars to align and a muse to bless them with focus

Blogger, journalists, and writers often talk about the infamous writers block, but although mental burnout can occur, it takes hours of daily writing over an extended period to get to that point. You can force motivation and creativity just like anything else, as long as you have a good schedule and are determined to improve.

If you do your best work in the morning get up early and strap yourself to a chair for a few hours, but if you can focus better later in the day, then make sure your schedule is open for 3 to 4 hours in the evening and either go out partying a bit later, or organize late dinners with your friend, just make sure that you learn a little bit every single day. Developing good habits like this is instrumental in becoming a quick learner.

8. Focusing on short-term retention

Reading a lot of information in several intense hours of learning can help with short term retention, and you might be able to reproducer a lot of the information the same day, the next day, or even next week if you add a day of revision into the mix, but all that knowledge will evaporate within a couple of months. This might be a decent strategy if your goal is to pass a tests and be done with a particular subject, but it’s an abysmal strategy for retaining important information in the long run.

The best solution is to go a bit slower and digest the information over several days instead of a single day. Revision is key, as the more you try to remember the information and use it, the more ingrained in your long term memory it becomes.

As you can see, a lot of the strategies used by quick learners seem counter-intuitive, but it is their attention to detail, ability to separate essential from non-essential information, realistic goals and frequent revisions that make someone a “quick learner”.

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Katarina Milovanovic

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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