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If You Want To Learn Everything 100% Faster, Try This Science-Backed Approach

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If You Want To Learn Everything 100% Faster, Try This Science-Backed Approach

For most people, no matter what new skill they want to acquire, learning consists of hard work that is repeated daily for many hours until the skill is mastered. The same principle is applied to learning to play the piano, for example, or learning a new language. Hard and constant work plays an important part in mastering any skill, yet, as one study finds, our success in learning can be much faster if we vary our practice slightly.[1]

The varying practice approach

Together with his fellow researchers, Pablo A. Celnik, M.D., professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, conducted research among 68 people on the effects of modified practice when learning computer-based motor skills. The conclusions they came to speak in favor of the varying practice approach, since the performance level of the group using this approach almost doubled the performance level of the group that used the regular learning approach. Celnik explains how a process called reconsolidation, in which new information and knowledge help recall existing memories, can now help motor skill development. He emphasizes the importance of the findings for helping patients with neurological conditions to recover lost motor function. “The goal is to develop novel behavioral interventions and training schedules that give people more improvement for the same amount of practice time.”

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How it works

In the fast paced modern world we live in, it seems like time is our most valuable resource, and most of us seem to lack it. With the developments in technology happening rapidly, most of us are forced into learning new skills constantly and quickly. The varying practice approach is so effective, simply because it actually saves our precious time and helps us cope with demanding tasks in a more productive way. Based on the reconsolidation process, the approach provides faster learning that requires:

  1. Practicing the activity
  2. Taking a 6 hour break (which is the time needed for the reconsolidation of memories)
  3. Repeating the activity with minor modifications

It is very important not to alter the practice entirely, as it won’t have any effect on the performance. As Celnik suggests: “If you make the altered task too different, people do not get the gain we observed during reconsolidation. The modification between sessions needs to be subtle.” Based on our ability to reconsolidate memories, the approach works in a way that helps our learned skills be remembered much quicker, and upgraded. When we slightly alter the practicing activity, it triggers our existing memories and helps imprint the new ones faster than during a regular approach consisting of repetition of the same activity.

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Additionally, changing things up as we learn a new skill can enhance our creativity. As earlier studies have shown, our creativity levels become stale if we keep repeating the same process over and over. Instead, we can see the benefits to our creativity, even from making the slightest alteration, such as changing our every day route to work.

How to implement the varying practice approach

As most of us struggle with time management when it comes to learning new skills, applying the varying practice approach will most certainly prove beneficial to many people. The implementation principle is quite simple, actually. Similar to the regular practice approach, it requires hard work and dedication, yet the rewards of the learned skill won’t take that long to be achieved.

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If we take learning how to play tennis as an example, our practice should follow the mentioned pattern with two practicing sessions, with a 6-hour break in between. Minor alteration in this case would be, as Celnik suggests, changing the size or weight of a tennis racket in between practice sessions. With subtle variations, our practicing sessions become twice as effective.

Featured photo credit: Eric Bailey via pexels.com

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Reference

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Ana Erkic

Social Media Consultant, Online Marketing Strategist, Copywriter, CEO and Co-Founder of Growato

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Published on September 21, 2021

How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

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How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

The internet is flooded with articles about remote work and its benefits or drawbacks. But in reality, the remote work experience is so subjective that it’s impossible to draw general conclusions and issue one-size-fits-all advice about it. However, one thing that’s universal and rock-solid is data. Data-backed findings and research about remote work productivity give us a clear picture of how our workdays have changed and how work from home affects us—because data doesn’t lie.

In this article, we’ll look at three decisive findings from a recent data study and two survey reports concerning remote work productivity and worker well-being.

1. We Take Less Frequent Breaks

Your home can be a peaceful or a distracting place depending on your living and family conditions. While some of us might find it hard to focus amidst the sounds of our everyday life, other people will tell you that the peace and quiet while working from home (WFH) is a major productivity booster. Then there are those who find it hard to take proper breaks at home and switch off at the end of the workday.

But what does data say about remote work productivity? Do we work more or less in a remote setting?

Let’s take a step back to pre-pandemic times (2014, to be exact) when a time tracking application called DeskTime discovered that 10% of most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

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Recently, the same time tracking app repeated that study to reveal working and breaking patterns during the pandemic. They found that remote work has caused an increase in time worked, with the most productive people now working for 112 minutes and breaking for 26 minutes.[1]

Now, this may seem rather innocent at first—so what if we work for extended periods of time as long as we also take longer breaks? But let’s take a closer look at this proportion.

While breaks have become only nine minutes longer, work sprints have more than doubled. That’s nearly two hours of work, meaning that the most hard-working people only take three to four breaks per 8-hour workday. This discovery makes us question if working from home (WFH) really is as good a thing for our well-being as we thought it was. In addition, in the WFH format, breaks are no longer a treat but rather a time to squeeze in a chore or help children with schoolwork.

Online meetings are among the main reasons for less frequent breaks. Pre-pandemic meetings meant going to another room, stretching your legs, and giving your eyes a rest from the computer. In a remote setting, all meetings happen on screen, sometimes back-to-back, which could be one of the main factors explaining the longer work hours recorded.

2. We Face a Higher Risk of Burnout

At first, many were optimistic about remote work’s benefits in terms of work-life balance as we save time on commuting and have more time to spend with family—at least in theory. But for many people, this was quickly counterbalanced by a struggle to separate their work and personal lives. Buffer’s 2021 survey for the State of Remote Work report found that the biggest struggle of remote workers is not being able to unplug, with collaboration difficulties and loneliness sharing second place.[2]

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Buffer’s respondents were also asked if they are working more or less since their shift to remote work, and 45 percent admitted to working more. Forty-two percent said they are working the same amount, while 13 percent responded that they are working less.

Longer work hours and fewer quality breaks can dramatically affect our health, as long-term sitting and computer use can cause eye strain, mental fatigue, and other issues. These, in turn, can lead to more severe consequences, such as burnout and heart disease.

Let’s have a closer look at the connection between burnout and remote work.

McKinsey’s report about the Future of work states that 49% of people say they’re feeling some symptoms of burnout.[3] And that may be an understatement since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests and may have even left the workforce.

From the viewpoint of the employer, remote workers may seem like they are more productive and working longer hours. However, managers must be aware of the risks associated with increased employee anxiety. Otherwise, the productivity gains won’t be long-lasting. It’s no secret that prolonged anxiety can reduce job satisfaction, decrease work performance, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.[4]

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3. Despite everything, We Love Remote Work

An overwhelming majority—97 percent—of Buffer report’s survey respondents say they would like to continue working remotely to some extent. The two main benefits mentioned by the respondents are the ability to have a flexible schedule and the flexibility to work from anywhere.

McKinsey’s report found that more than half of employees would like their workplace to adopt a more flexible hybrid virtual-working model, with some days of work on-premises and some days working remotely. To be more exact, more than half of employees report that they would like at least three work-from-home days a week once the pandemic is over.

Companies will increasingly be forced to find ways to satisfy these workforce demands while implementing policies to minimize the risks associated with overworking and burnout. Smart companies will embrace this new trend and realize that adopting hybrid models can also be a win for them—for example, for accessing talent in different locations and at a lower cost.

Remote Work: Blessing or Plight?

Understandably, workers worldwide are tempted to keep the good work-life aspects that have come out of the pandemic—professional flexibility, fewer commutes, and extra time with family. But with the once strict boundaries between work and life fading, we must remain cautious. We try to squeeze in house chores during breaks. We do online meetings from the kitchen or the same couch we watch TV shows from, and many of us report difficulties switching off after work.

So, how do we keep our private and professional lives from hopelessly blending together?

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The answer is that we try to replicate the physical and virtual boundaries that come naturally in an office setting. This doesn’t only mean having a dedicated workspace but also tracking your work time and stopping when your working hours are finished. In addition, it means working breaks into your schedule because watercooler chats don’t just naturally happen at home.

If necessary, we need to introduce new rituals that resemble a normal office day—for example, going for a walk around the block in the morning to simulate “arriving at work.” Remote work is here to stay. If we want to enjoy the advantages it offers, then we need to learn how to cope with the personal challenges that come with it.

Learn how to stay productive while working remotely with these tips: How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

Featured photo credit: Jenny Ueberberg via unsplash.com

Reference

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