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Last Updated on January 18, 2021

7 Science-Backed Learning Hacks to Help You Learn Anything Faster

7 Science-Backed Learning Hacks to Help You Learn Anything Faster
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Are you learning a new skill? Whether you’re learning a language, instrument, or sport, there’s science-backed learning hacks you can systematically follow to learn it faster.

With technology, communication tools, and access to information, there’s no limit to what you can learn today. We’ve curated our top 7 learning hacks that you can use for your benefit.

1. Set the right goals from the start

Having the right goals in place is the first step in learning anything. It’s the foundation that will set you up for either success or failure. Most people set vague goals that doesn’t help them in the long term.

For example, let’s say you want to learn how to speak Spanish in order to travel to South America.

A bad goal would be: “I want to learn Spanish so I can go to South America.” Why? Because it’s too general.

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A great goal must include the following factors:

  • Visualization
  • Measurable
  • Deadline

An example goal of a better goal would be: “I want to be able to hold a 30-minute conversation in Spanish with a native speaker from Buenos Aires by July 2017.”

Notice the difference in specificity, visualization, and timeline to learn. Keep these factors in mind the next time you set a goal.

2. Schedule it in

What doesn’t get scheduled in the calendar, doesn’t get done. All of us love to complain about one thing, lack of time. But learning a new skill doesn’t have to take up a large portion of your day. In fact, in as little as 30 minutes per day, you can learn something new.

While it may not be a game changing learning session, these small lessons will quickly accumulate over time.

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3. Deconstruct the skills

Next is to deconstruct and breakdown the individual components you need to learn. Let’s take learning Spanish to continue our example. You could break the skill down to writing, reading, conversation, and listening.

In his popular book, The Four-Hour Chef, Tim Ferriss recommends asking the following question: “What are the minimum learnable units, the LEGO blocks, I should be starting with?” This will help you analyze what are the starting points that you should cover.

4. Focus on the 20% vital learnings

Most of the time, resources, and money we spend are not as impactful towards our end goal as we think. An Italian economist named Vilfredo Pareto came up with a law called the Pareto’s Principle. It explains that 20% of tasks, activities, and time will often provide 80% of our desired results.

For example, if you want to learn a language, the 20% could be focusing on learning how to hold a conversation in your target language instead of focusing on reading, writing, etc.

5. Have a stake

Willpower is largely overestimated in our society. Humans, as much as we have progressed, need to be incentivized in one way or another. This could be a reward that we receive for doing something, or it could be a punishment that we get for not doing something.

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I recommend checking out StickK, which is a free goal-setting platform created by behavioral economists that put real money on the line if you fail to meet your goals. The more that’s on the line, the more committed you’ll be.

6. Learn from a professional teacher

If there’s any shortcut in life, it’s to learn from someone who’s done it and trained to teach you. Sure, you can try to do it all on your own, but that’ll take significantly longer in terms of time, sometimes years.

This is why having a personal trainer to help you get in shape has shown to provide individuals the fastest and most effective results. Or why the best performers in business have business coaches and mentors by their side at all times.

7. Take care of yourself

There’s no question that health is one of the most important things we should prioritize to learn anything faster. If done well, it will trickle down to help us pick up knowledge faster and remember more information.

This boils down to not just more, but better sleep and exercise. Exercise improves learning on three levels. It optimizes your mindset, by improving alertness, attention, and motivation. It prepares and encourages nerve cells to intersect, preparing our brain to acquire new information. And it spurs the development of new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus, an area of the brain related to memory and learning.

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Here’s a visual representation of how our brain is affected by sitting versus taking a quick 20-minute walk.

    In conclusion, these simple learning hacks can help anyone of us fill the skill gaps we need to thrive in our professional career and personal lives. Sometimes, just working harder is not the solution. It’s working smarter.

    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 July 21, 2021

    How to Stop Information Overload and Get More Done

    How to Stop Information Overload and Get More Done
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    Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.

    This has to stop somewhere. And it can.

    As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.

    But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.

    How Serious Is Information Overload?

    The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem.

    This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.

    When we see some half-baked blog posts we don’t even consider reading, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it.

    We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.

    No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on.

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    The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.

    That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”

    Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control.

    Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it.

    But first, admit that information overload is really bad for you.

    Why Information Overload Is Bad for You

    Information overload stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here.

    When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.

    Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.

    The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.

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    You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work or enjoy your passion.

    How to Stop Information Overload (And Start to Achieve More)

    So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with setting goals.

    1. Set Your Goals

    If you don’t have your goals put in place, you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”

    Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.

    Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.

    Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.

    2. Know What to Skip When Facing New Information

    Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks, you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.

    First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans, then skip it. You don’t need it.

    If it does, then ask yourself these questions:

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    • Will you be able to put this information into action immediately?
    • Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks?
    • Is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away?

    If the information is not actionable in a day or two, then skip it.

    (You’ll forget about it anyway.) And that’s basically it.

    Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.

    You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant.

    Self-control comes handy too. It’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future, then SKIP IT.

    3. Be Aware of the Minimal Effective Dose

    There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour BodyTim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs.

    Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose, no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.

    Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life.

    Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.

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    4. Don’t Procrastinate by Consuming More Information

    Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article, we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.

    This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.

    Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.

    The focus of this article is not on how to stop procrastinating, but if you’re having such issue, I recommend you read this: Procrastination – A Step-By-Step Guide to Stop Procrastinating

    Summing It Up

    As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance.

    I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over.

    I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.

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    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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