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If You Want To Be An Effective Learner, You Need To Develop These 4 Skills

If You Want To Be An Effective Learner, You Need To Develop These 4 Skills

Say your thirtieth birthday is approaching, and as a sign of this new level of maturity, you’ve decided to add a bit of value and refinement into your life. You’ve toyed with several ideas, including becoming a wine connoisseur, a poet laureate, a yoga instructor, a ukulele player, or a juggler. You finally settle on learning a new language, Korean. You are inspired and sprint at maximum effort for three or four weeks. Then your energy and enthusiasm dwindle, and by week five you’ve learned enough Korean to order badly at a restaurant and offend the regulars. So, you decide to take up the ukulele. A month later you’ve learned to play a poor rendition of Happy Birthday. Bored and disenchanted, you quit again.

So, the question becomes, how do you become an effective learner and expand your horizons?

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1. Assess the value of what you are considering learning

Assessment is a very important first step. Learning something new requires the expenditure of time, attention, effort, and energy, and in most cases, money as well. Before you invest in learning something new, determine if it is something worth your effort. Two questions you should ask yourself:

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  1. How will this new knowledge or skill benefit me and what purpose will it serve? If the skill will not meet a need or serve a real purpose in your life, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should abandon learning about it–it should, however, dictate the amount of resources the endeavor should consume.
  2. How badly do I want to learn it? Again, the answer to this question will help you adequately budget how much time and energy you should give to the activity, or decide whether it is even worth the time and energy.

Sometimes, we lie to ourselves about what we want, or we think we want what others have. The key here is to assess why you want to acquire that knowledge or skill, then determine if you REALLY want it.

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2.  Set realistic goals

Establishing realistic learning goals is a major key to effective learning. When learning something new, 100 percent mastery is a lofty and oftentimes unrealistic goal. The brain works best under an optimal amount of stress, but not under copious and burdensome amounts of stress. The level of stress must be high but manageable. Setting a goal of 80% mastery of a new skill is the sweet spot. It is challenging yet doable. [1]Success fuels motivation, while failure kills it. Allowing yourself room to fail, while still setting high learning goals, is the best way for learning optimization to occur.

3. When your learning plateaus, move on

Once you hit a mental plateau and your learning has considerably slowed, your brain is ready to tackle something new. The most effective way to take advantage of the brain’s malleability is by learning something that is related to what you were previously learning. The brain naturally organizes and categorizes information, and “chunking” previous learning with new learning is the most effective way to attain and maintain new knowledge and skills.[2] For example, if you were taking a public speaking course, you could then transition to taking acting lessons. When information is studied so that it can be interpreted in relation to other things you already have in your memory, learning becomes so much more powerful.[3]

4. Multitasking is the enemy

Multitasking, in its true sense, is a mythical beast. It simply doesn’t exist. Research shows that it is impossible for the brain to simultaneously work on multiple tasks at once.[4] Instead, the mind constantly switches between the tasks and their contexts, spinning only one plate at a time. Multitasking is a highly inefficient way of going about getting things done. In fact, the brain’s inability to focus on two processes in tandem is precisely why texting and driving are forbidden. Effective and efficient learning occurs quickest when there is 100% focus.

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Reference

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Denise Hill

Denise shares about psychology and communication tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on September 30, 2020

Effective vs Efficient: What’s the Difference Regarding Productivity?

Effective vs Efficient: What’s the Difference Regarding Productivity?

When it comes to being effective vs efficient, there are a lot of similarities, and because of this, they’re often misused and misinterpreted, both in daily use and application.

Every business should look for new ways to improve employee effectiveness and efficiency to save time and energy in the long term. Just because a company or employee has one, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that the other is equally present.

Utilizing both an effective and efficient methodology in nearly any capacity of work and life will yield high levels of productivity, while a lack of it will lead to a lack of positive results.

Before we discuss the various nuances between the word effective and efficient and how they factor into productivity, let’s break things down with a definition of their terms.

Effective vs Efficient

Effective is defined as “producing a decided, decisive, or desired effect.” Meanwhile, the word “efficient ” is defined as “capable of producing desired results with little or no waste (as of time or materials).”[1]

A rather simple way of explaining the differences between the two would be to consider a light bulb. Say that your porch light burned out and you decided that you wanted to replace the incandescent light bulb outside with an LED one. Either light bulb would be effective in accomplishing the goal of providing you with light at night, but the LED one would use less energy and therefore be the more efficient choice.

Now, if you incorrectly set a timer for the light, and it was turned on throughout the entire day, then you would be wasting energy. While the bulb is still performing the task of creating light in an efficient manner, it’s on during the wrong time of day and therefore not effective.

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The effective way is focused on accomplishing the goal, while the efficient method is focused on the best way of accomplishing the goal.

Whether we’re talking about a method, employee, or business, the subject in question can be either effective or efficient, or, in rare instances, they can be both.

When it comes to effective vs efficient, the goal of achieving maximum productivity is going to be a combination where the subject is effective and as efficient as possible in doing so.

Effectiveness in Success and Productivity

Being effective vs efficient is all about doing something that brings about the desired intent or effect[2]. If a pest control company is hired to rid a building’s infestation, and they employ “method A” and successfully completed the job, they’ve been effective at achieving the task.

The task was performed correctly, to the extent that the pest control company did what they were hired to do. As for how efficient “method A” was in completing the task, that’s another story.

If the pest control company took longer than expected to complete the job and used more resources than needed, then their efficiency in completing the task wasn’t particularly good. The client may feel that even though the job was completed, the value in the service wasn’t up to par.

When assessing the effectiveness of any business strategy, it’s wise to ask certain questions before moving forward:

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  • Has a target solution to the problem been identified?
  • What is the ideal response time for achieving the goal?
  • Does the cost balance out with the benefit?

Looking at these questions, a leader should ask to what extent a method, tool, or resource meets the above criteria and achieve the desired effect. If the subject in question doesn’t hit any of these marks, then productivity will likely suffer.

Efficiency in Success and Productivity

Efficiency is going to account for the resources and materials used in relation to the value of achieving the desired effect. Money, people, inventory, and (perhaps most importantly) time, all factor into the equation.

When it comes to being effective vs efficient, efficiency can be measured in numerous ways[3]. In general, the business that uses fewer materials or that is able to save time is going to be more efficient and have an advantage over the competition. This is assuming that they’re also effective, of course.

Consider a sales team for example. Let’s say that a company’s sales team is tasked with making 100 calls a week and that the members of that team are hitting their goal each week without any struggle.

The members on the sales team are effective in hitting their goal. However, the question of efficiency comes into play when management looks at how many of those calls turn into solid connections and closed deals.

If less than 10 percent of those calls generate a connection, the productivity is relatively low because the efficiency is not adequately balancing out with the effect. Management can either keep the same strategy or take a new approach.

Perhaps they break up their sales team with certain members handling different parts of the sales process, or they explore a better way of connecting with their customers through a communications company.

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The goal is ultimately going to be finding the right balance, where they’re being efficient with the resources they have to maximize their sales goals without stretching themselves too thin. Finding this balance is often easier said than done, but it’s incredibly important for any business that is going to thrive.

Combining Efficiency and Effectiveness to Maximize Productivity

Being effective vs efficient works best if both are pulled together for the best results.

If a business is ineffective in accomplishing its overall goal, and the customer doesn’t feel that the service is equated with the cost, then efficiency becomes largely irrelevant. The business may be speedy and use minimal resources, but they struggle to be effective. This may put them at risk of going under.

It’s for this reason that it’s best to shoot for being effective first, and then work on bringing efficiency into practice.

Improving productivity starts with taking the initiative to look at how effective a company, employee, or method is through performance reviews. Leaders should make a point to regularly examine performance at all levels on a whole, and take into account the results that are being generated.

Businesses and employees often succumb to inefficiency because they don’t look for a better way, or they lack the proper tools to be effective in the most efficient manner possible.

Similar to improving a manager or employee’s level of effectiveness, regularly measuring the resources needed to obtain the desired effect will ensure that efficiency is being accounted for. This involves everything from keeping track of inventory and expenses, to how communication is handled within an organization.

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By putting in place a baseline value for key metrics and checking them once changes have been made, a company will have a much better idea of the results they’re generating.

It’s no doubt a step-by-step process. By making concentrated efforts, weakness can be identified and rectified sooner rather than later when the damage is already done.

Bottom Line

Understanding the differences between being effective vs efficient is key when it comes to maximizing productivity. It’s simply working smart so that the intended results are achieved in the best way possible. Finding the optimal balance should be the ultimate goal for employees and businesses:

  • Take the steps that result in meeting the solution.
  • Review the process and figure out how to do it better.
  • Repeat the process with what has been learned in a more efficient manner.

And just like that, effective and efficient productivity is maximized.

More on How to Improve Productivity

Featured photo credit: Tim van der Kuip via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: effective and efficient
[2] Mind Tools: Being Effective at Work
[3] Inc.: 8 Things Really Efficient People Do

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