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

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

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.

Luckily for us, there are solutions at the tip of our fingers, including websites like Rype (languages), Creativelive (photography), Bodybuilding.com (fitness & health), and more coming out every day.

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.

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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.

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.

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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 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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