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Last Updated on May 6, 2020

How to Learn Anything Fast? Take These 5 Powerful Steps

How to Learn Anything Fast? Take These 5 Powerful Steps

Put an average Joe next to someone of success and you’ll find that the latter had more knowledge to get to where they are today.

While there’s only so much time in the day to learn new skills, you can accelerate how fast you learn something. Whether you want to learn a new language, understand real estate, or learn how to start a business, the person who can learn faster will always have the upper hand in life.

So, how to learn anything fast? Here are 5 powerful steps to learn anything faster.

1. Method Beats Hours

When it comes to learning something new, the method will always beat the number of hours you put into something. This isn’t to say that the number of hours isn’t important, but you should choose which method will give you the best results.

For example, let’s say two people were driving from Boston to New York City. It doesn’t matter how skilled or committed the first driver is. If he’s driving a beat-up pickup truck and the second driver has a Ferrari, the first driver will lose.

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Your method is the vehicle that will become the engine of where you want to go. With anything you want to learn, there will be dozens of available methods to follow, and “experts” to learn from. This means that you want to spend a lot of time understanding who you’re learning from, what credibility they have, and how it fits with your learning style.

2. Apply the 80/20 Rule

As a reader of Lifehack, you’ve probably heard of Pareto’s Law.

It is a concept developed by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto which explains that 80% of your desired outputs will come from only 20% of your inputs.

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    While the exact ratio varies from situation to situation, you’ll find that:

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    • 20% of people in your life will lead to 80% of your happiness
    • 20% of your customers will drive 80% of your sales
    • 20% of your learning methods will lead to 80% of your results

    When it comes to learning, it feels like there’s so much we don’t know, so it’s easy to jump around everywhere. This will only lead to wasted time. What you want to do is focus on the one or two things that will drive the needle for what you want to achieve and double down on them.

    For example, if you’re learning Spanish to travel this summer, instead of learning how to write or read, you should learn how to speak Spanish. Or instead of trying to please a dissatisfied customer that’s only paying you $37/month, you should add 10 times more value to a customer that’s paying you $1,000/month.

    3. Learn by Doing

    Immersion is by far the best way to learn anything. And as research shows, it turns out that humans retain:

    • 5% of what they learn when they’ve learned from a lecture.
    • 10% of what they learn when they’ve learned from reading.
    • 20% of what they learn from audio-visual.
    • 30% of what they learn when they see a demonstration
    • 50% of what they learn when engaged in a group discussion.
    • 75% of what they learn when they practice what they learned.
    • 90% of what they learn when they use it immediately.

    Think back to how you learned to play basketball, ride a bicycle, or swim. Instead of watching tutorial videos or reading a textbook on how to do something, the way to learn faster is to get into the trenches and gain experience through making mistakes.

    4. Find a Coach

    From business titans to professional athletes, the people performing at the highest levels all have one thing in common: they have a coach.

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    According to best-selling author Seth Godin, there are five reasons you might quit in anything you do:

    • You run out of time (and quit)
    • You run out of money (and quit)
    • You get scared (and quit)
    • You’re not serious about it (and quit)
    • You lose interest (and quit)

    Having a coach allows you to see the blind spots that you couldn’t see before, and guide you through the tough times that inevitably come when you’re learning anything new.

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      A coach doesn’t have to cost $1 million a year, like what Tony Robbins charges, or even $1,000. If you’re trying to learn a language, you could have a language coach you work with. If you’re trying to learn an instrument, it could be finding a private teacher to help you.

      The point is, you’re not going at it alone. And having someone that’s keeping you accountable can take you miles further than doing everything yourself.

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      5. Process Over Performance

      Doing the work is often the hardest thing for most people. A common mistake people make when they’re learning something new is to focus on performance over process. It’s hard to see any consistent results until you’ve put in a significant amount of work upfront.

      For writers, this is sitting down and writing 500 words a day — no matter how bad it may turn out. For athletes, this is waking up every morning and training — no matter how groggy and sore you feel. For language learners, it’s forcing yourself to speak the language every day — no matter how many mistakes you make or how uncomfortable you may feel.

      “Seventy percent of success in life is showing up.” — Woody Allen

      Taking small steps may not sound sexy, but it has been the proven path to follow for anything you’ll want to achieve in your life and business.

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      Featured photo credit: Anna Earl via unsplash.com

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      Sean Kim

      Sean is the founder and CEO of Rype, a language learning app. He's an entrepreneur and blogger.

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      Last Updated on July 24, 2020

      A Comprehensive Guide to a Smart Learning Process

      A Comprehensive Guide to a Smart Learning Process

      One of the most crucial aspects of our lives is the ability to learn. We often take this skill for granted since not many of us pause and think about our learning process. In fact, if we did, we would probably uncover that we engage in ineffective learning mechanisms.

      Think about it. Has your learning helped you recall things you learned last month? Go back a year and ponder.

      A lot of how we learn was tucked away in school. Our exposure to school learning is the basis of how we learn moving forward. However, over the past few decades, learning has evolved into different stages of learning, and that becomes the main issue.

      No longer are we looking at examinations of people’s characteristics about understanding and learning. Instead, scholars have created learning processes that use materials that support our interactions with others and our goals.

      As a result, we can learn new things more smartly and effectively – which will be covered as we proceed further in understanding the learning process.

      The Essential Steps of the Learning Process

      In his book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell states that the key to success is for us to practice 10,000 hours on a specific skill. It’s also worth noting that the skill needs the correct learning direction. If you’re learning how to do something the wrong way, you’ll continue to use it the wrong way.

      But before understanding the learning process, we must understand the stages of learning. Written in the 1970s, Noel Burch created a model called the Four Stages of Learning. [1]

      From there, we can use the stages of learning as a basis for how to learn effectively.

      1. Unconscious Incompetence

      Think of a skill that you are good at and that you use every single day.

      Now think back to when you first developed that skill. Were you good at it? Probably not.

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      You never heard of the skill or had a desire to learn of it until that point. This is the first stage: You know nothing about it.

      2. Conscious Incompetence

      Once you have heard of the skill, you begin to delve into it.

      Driving a car is a perfect example. Before this stage, you never felt the need to learn how to drive. Nevertheless, once you became of legal age, you had to study to get your license. You likely made several mistakes on the driving test as well as during the written test.

      This is the stage where you feel learning is slow, and you’re also aware of your mistakes.

      3. Conscious Competence

      By this stage, you know pretty much everything you need to know. At the same time, though, you are also aware that you need to focus and concentrate on what you are doing.

      This stage can be that you know the rules of the road and can drive well. However, you feel you can’t talk to anyone, play any music, or look away from the road. You feel like you need total silence to focus and concentrate on driving.

      At this stage, learning can be even slower than the previous stages. The learning isn’t consistent, nor is it a habit yet.

      4. Unconscious Competence

      By this stage, you’ve made it. You know everything in and out about the skill. It’s become a habit, and you don’t need to concentrate. You can relax and let your unconscious mind take over.

      Exceeding the 4 Stages: Flow/Mastery

      While Burch only covered four stages, there is another stage that exceeds it. This is the flow or mastery stage.

      You may have heard of something called a flow state. [2] It’s the mental state where someone is performing an activity and is fully immersed in it. They feel energized, focused, and get a sense of joy from doing this activity.

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      Flow or mastery can stem from all kinds of activities like Writing, reading, jogging, biking, figure skating, and more. It’s also characterized as complete absorption in what you’re doing, making you unaware of space and time.

      Different Types of Learning Process

      Another aspect of the learning process is the types of learning. While every person goes through those stages of learning, how we learn is different.

      Having covered four learning styles in 4 Learning Styles to Help You Learn Faster and Smarter, I’m recapping the different types of learning in psychology.

      Psychiatrists have narrowed how we learn down to seven learning styles as below:

      • Visual (spatial): Learning through pictures, graphs, charts, etc.
      • Aural (auditory-musical): Learning through sound and music.
      • Verbal (linguistic): Learning through spoken or written words.
      • Physical (kinesthetic): Learning through the body, hands, and a sense of touch.
      • Logical (mathematical): Learning through logic, systems, and reasons.
      • Social (interpersonal): Learning through groups or talking to people.
      • Solitary (intrapersonal): Learning individually through self-study or individual assignments.

      You may be asking why all of this matters and actually how we learn plays a significant role. How we internally represent experiences stems from how we learn. What we learn not only establishes how we recall information but also impacts our own word choice.

      It also influences which part of our brain we use for learning. Researchers uncovered this through various experiments.[3]

      For example, say you’re driving to a place you’ve never gone before. How you learn will determine which method of learning you’ll use. Some will ask people for directions, while others will pull up Google maps. Some will write the directions out, while some won’t and merely follow street signs.

      Knowing how to learn to this depth is vital because once you know what style you use, you can then develop a learning process to be a more effective learner.

      How To Become an Effective Learner?

      The learning process varies from person to person. Generally speaking, though, consider the following steps and considerations:

      1. Improve Your Memory

      Learning doesn’t only require that we learn information, but to retain it. If we are to learn something, we will have to learn and relearn. This means recalling and having a sharp memory to keep that information.

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      Improving our memory can range from a variety of things. From memory palaces to practicing other memory improvement tactics.

      2. Keep Learning and Practicing New Things

      Learning a new skill takes time, but there is nothing wrong with learning a few other things. International Journal of Science – Nature: Changes in grey matter induced by training[4] reported that those who juggled between learning different topics increase their gray matter which is associated with visual memory

      3. Learn in Many Ways

      While we have our own go-to style, delving into other types and stages of learning can be useful. If you learn by listening to podcasts, why not try rehearsing information verbally or visually?

      It will not start great, but by improving your skill to describe what you learned orally, you are further cementing the knowledge in your mind.

      Judy Willis MD, M.Ed in her publication on Review of Research: Brain-Based Teaching Strategies for Improving Students’ Memory, Learning, and Test-Taking Success[5] states how the more regions we keep data stored, the more interconnection there is in the collection information that we later process.

      4. Teaching What You Learned to Others

      It doesn’t have to be in a tutoring situation, but this method is still a reliable way for two people to grow.

      Regardless of learning styles, we retain the information we tell others more effectively than if we keep it to ourselves. Was there a random fact you told someone a few months ago? You are more likely to remember that information because you brought it up to someone.

      5. Use Relational Learning

      Relational learning is relating new information to things you already know.

      A typical example of this is remembering someone’s name. You can better recall that person’s name if you associate that name to something or someone familiar.

      6. Gaining Practical Experience

      Nothing beats learning than trying it for yourself. Sure, seeing information does have its strong points -and most learning styles benefit from exposed information – there is something to be said about getting your “hands dirty.”

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      7. Refer Back to past Info If Need Be

      The learning process is not perfect. We’ll forget at certain points. If you ever struggle to remember something, make a point of going back to your notes.

      This is key because if we try recalling, we risk ourselves learning or relearning the wrong answer. And again, there is a difference between learning the right way and the wrong way.

      8. Test Yourself

      While this step may seem odd, there are benefits to testing yourself. Even if you think you know everything about the topic, going back and testing yourself can always help.

      Not only does testing improve our recall, but we may realize that we learned a concept or task incorrectly. That knowledge can enhance our effectiveness in the future.

      9. Stop Multitasking

      While we should be learning new things all the time, we shouldn’t be trying to do several tasks at once. We ought to focus on one activity at a time before moving onto other tasks.

      By trying to multitask, we are learning less effectively and are only hindering ourselves. Check out how multitasking is merely another way of distracting ourselves.

      Bottom Line

      Psychologists define learning as the process of a permanent change in a person’s behavior resulting from experience. The understanding of the learning process is up to us, but do consider the bigger picture. Be aware of what style works best for you, and work to improve it while enhancing other learning styles. The only way we can advance a skill is to learn continuously. Even in the skills you have mastered, there are always new developments.

      You can learn more about how you can cultivate lifelong learning and attain an edge in every niche that you get associated with today!

      Featured photo credit: Aliis Sinisalu via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Gordon Training International: The Four Stages of Competence
      [2] Habits for Wellbeing: Flow: the Secret to Happiness: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
      [3] Training Industry: How the Brain Learns
      [4] International Journal of Science – Nature: Changes in grey matter induced by training
      [5] Judy Willis MD, M.Ed: Review of Research: Brain-Based Teaching Strategies for Improving Students’ Memory, Learning, and Test-Taking Success

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