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How To Remember 90% Of Everything You Learn

How To Remember 90% Of Everything You Learn

Wish you could learn faster?

Whether you’re learning Spanish, a new instrument, or a new sport, we could all benefit from accelerated learning. But the problem is, there’s only so much time in the day.

The key to accelerated learning is not just putting in more hours, but maximizing the effectiveness of the time spent learning.

The Bucket And Water Analogy

Let’s say you were to fill up a bucket with water. Most buckets should not have any problem retaining the water inside, until it starts overflowing at the top.

Leather_bucket_of_a_well

    But in reality, this isn’t how our brains function. In fact, most of the information that enters our brain leaks out eventually. Instead of looking at our brain’s memory as a bucket that retains everything, we should treat it for what it is: a leaking bucket.

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    leaking-bucket

      While the leaky bucket analogy may sound like a negative connotation, it’s perfectly normal. Unless you were born with a photographic memory, our brains weren’t designed to remember every fact, information, or experience that we go through in our lives.

      How To Remember 90% Of Everything You Learn

      The development of the Learning Pyramid in the 1960’s — widely attributed to the NTL Institute in Bethel, Maine— outlined how humans learn.

      As research shows, it turns out that humans remember:

      5% of what they learn when they’ve learned from a lecture (i.e. university/college lectures)
      10% of what they learn when they’ve learned from reading (i.e. books, articles)
      20% of what they learn from audio-visual (i.e. apps, videos)
      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 immediately (or teach others)

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      Learning-Pyramid-synap (2)

        Yet how do most of us learn?

        Books, classroom lectures, videos — non-interactive learning methods that results in 80-95% of information going in one ear and leaking out the other.

        The point here is that instead of forcing our brains on how to remember more information with “passive” methods, we should focus our time, energy, and resources on “participatory” methods that have proven to deliver more effective results, in less time.

        This means that:

        • If you want to learn how to speak a foreign language, you should focus on speaking with native speakers and gain immediate feedback (instead of mobile apps)
        • If you want to get in shape, you should work with a personal fitness trainer (instead of watching Youtube workout videos)
        • If you want to learn a new instrument, hire a local music teacher in your city

        Ultimately, it comes down to this…

        Time Or Money?

        How many times have you heard someone say, “I don’t have time to do X…”

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        I’m certainly guilty of this myself, as I’ve made excuse after excuse about the lack of time I have in my life.

        But time is the greatest equalizer of all. No matter who we are, where we are in the world, or how much we strive for efficiency, there are only 24 hours in each day. Every single minute is unique, and once it’s gone, it can never be regained, unlike money.

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          “You May Delay, But Time Will Not.”
          ― Benjamin Franklin

          So if we all have 24 hours in a day, how do we explain the success stories of young millionaires that started from nothing, or a full-time student going from beginner to conversation fluency in Spanish after just 3.5 months? They learned how to maximize for effectiveness instead of only efficiency.

          Let’s say person A spent one hour learning a language and retained 90% of what they learned. And person B spent nine hours learning and retained 10% of what they learned. Doing simple math, person B spent 9x more time learning than person A, only to retain the same amount of information (A: 1 * 0.9 = B: 9 * 0.1).

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          While the exact numbers can be debated, the lesson is clear. The way to have more time is not to go for small wins, like watching 5-minute YouTube tutorials instead of 15-minutes, but to go for big wins, like choosing the most effective method from the beginning. Or constantly relying on free alternatives, when investing in a premium solution can shave off months, if not years, worth of struggles, mistakes, and most importantly, time.

          It’s making the most out of the limited time we have by focusing on solutions that deliver the most impact, and saying no to everything else.

          The ability to retain more knowledge in an age of infinite access to information and countless distractions is a powerful skill to achieve any goal we have faster.

          By learning how to remember more information everyday, we can spend less time re-learning old knowledge, and focus on acquiring new ones.

          We’re all running out of time, and today is the youngest you’ll ever be. The question is: how will you best spend it?

          More by this author

          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 September 28, 2020

          How To Study Effectively: 7 Simple Tips

          How To Study Effectively: 7 Simple Tips

          The brain is a tangled web of information. We don’t remember single facts, but instead we interlink everything by association. Anytime we experience a new event, our brains tie the sights, smells, sounds and our own impressions together into a new relationship.

          Our brain remembers things by repetition, association, visual imagery, and all five senses. By knowing a bit about how the brain works, we can become better learners, absorbing new information faster than ever.

          Here are some study tips to help get you started:

          1. Use Flashcards

          Our brains create engrained memories through repetition. The more times we hear, see, or repeat something to ourselves, the more likely we are to remember it.

          Flashcards can help you learn new subjects quickly and efficiently. Flashcards allow you to study anywhere at any time. Their portable nature lends them to quick study sessions on the bus, in traffic, at lunch, or in the doctor’s office. You can always whip out your flashcards for a quick 2 to 3 minute study session.

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          To create effective flashcards, you need to put one point on each flashcard. Don’t load up the entire card with information. That’s just overload. Instead, you should dedicate one concept to each card.

          One of the best ways to make flashcards is to put 1 question on the front and one answer on the back. This way, you can repeatedly quiz yourself into you have mastered any topic of your choice.

          Commit to reading through your flash cards at least 3 times a day and you will be amazed at how quickly you pick up new information.

          As Tony Robbins says,

          “Repetition is the mother of skill”.

          2. Create the Right Environment

          Often times, where you study can be just as important as how you study. For an optimum learning environment, you’ll want to find a nice spot that is fairly peaceful. Some people can’t stand a deafening silence, but you certainly don’t want to study near constant distractions.

          Find a spot that you can call your own, with plenty of room to spread out your stuff. Go there each time you study and you will find yourself adapting to a productive study schedule. When you study in the same place each time, you become more productive in that spot because you associate it with studying.

          3. Use Acronyms to Remember Information

          In your quest for knowledge, you may have once heard of an odd term called “mnemonics”. However, even if you haven’t heard of this word, you have certainly heard of its many applications. One of the most popular mnemonic examples is “Every Good Boy Does Fine”. This is an acronym used to help musicians and students to remember the notes on a treble clef stave.

          An acronym is simply an abbreviation formed using the intial letters of a word. These types of memory aids can help you to learn large quantities of information in a short period of time.

          4. Listen to Music

          Research has long shown that certain types of music help you to recall information. Information learned while listening to a particular song can often be remembered simply by “playing” the songs mentally in your head.

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          5. Rewrite Your Notes

          This can be done by hand or on the computer. However, you should keep in mind that writing by hand can often stimulate more neural activity than when writing on the computer.

          Everyone should study their notes at home but often times, simply re-reading them is too passive. Re-reading your notes can cause you to become disengaged and distracted.

          To get the most out of your study time, make sure that it is active. Rewriting your notes turns a passive study time into an active and engaging learning tool. You can begin using this technique by buying two notebooks for each of your classes. Dedicate one of the notebooks for making notes during each class. Dedicate the other notebook to rewriting your notes outside of class.

          6. Engage Your Emotions

          Emotions play a very important part in your memory. Think about it. The last time you went to a party, which people did you remember? The lady who made you laugh, the man who hurt your feelings, and the kid who went screaming through the halls are the ones you will remember. They are the ones who had an emotional impact.

          Fortunately, you can use the power of emotion in your own study sessions. Enhance your memory by using your five senses. Don’t just memorize facts. Don’t just see and hear the words in your mind. Create a vivid visual picture of what you are trying to learn.

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          For example, if you are trying to learn the many parts of a human cell, begin physically rotating the cell in your minds eye. Imagine what each part might feel like. Begin to take the cell apart piece by piece and then reconstruct it. Paint the human cell with vivid colors. Enlarge the cell in your mind’s eye so that it is now six feet tall and putting on your own personal comedy show. This visual and emotional mind play will help deeply encode information into your memory.

          7. Make Associations

          One of the best ways to learn new things is to relate what you want to learn with something you already know. This is known as association, and it is the mental glue that drives your brain.

          Have you ever listened to a song and been flooded by memories that were connected to it? Have you ever seen an old friend that triggered memories from childhood? This is the power of association.

          To maximize our mental powers, we must constantly be looking for ways to relate new information with old ideas and concepts that we are already familiar with.

          You can do this with the use of mindmapping. A mind map is used to diagram words, pictures, thoughts, and ideas into a an interconnected web of information. This simple practice will help you to connect everything you learn into a global network of knowledge that can be pulled from at any moment.

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          Learn more about mindmapping here: How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples)

          Featured photo credit: Alissa De Leva via unsplash.com

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