Advertising
Advertising

Repeated Practice Without Strategy Won’t Help You Learn Faster No Matter How Hard-Working You Are

Repeated Practice Without Strategy Won’t Help You Learn Faster No Matter How Hard-Working You Are

When you are excited to learn a new skill, progress seems to come naturally. The first few weeks of practice fly by with tremendous growth and a feeling of satisfaction. Yet, all of us are familiar with what happens next. You grow bored, your progress slows, and you feel like you’ve hit a wall. At that point, you may be tempted to quit, but here is a better alternative.

Take Breaks when Your Progress Slows

Instead of giving up on your new skill when you hit a wall, give yourself permission to take a break. Remind yourself that any new ability takes time to develop. You would not expect a young child to become an expert reader overnight, but we often set ourselves up for disappointment by demanding that we achieve mastery in a similarly unreasonable timeframe. Free yourself from this kind of unnecessary disappointment by planning to take a break when you need to.

Advertising

When to Take a Break

For many people, progress slows after 4-6 weeks of consistent practice. While you can take a break to practice a completely separate skill or work on a different goal, you will benefit most from turning your attention to a similar or complementary skillset.[1] For instance, if your goal is to learn French, you can take a break to cultivate your poetry skills. Even though you will be writing poetry in English, you will still be focused on improving your confidence with language in general. When you return to practicing French, you will approach your lessons with a fresh energy and greatly reduce the chance of burnout.

Advertising

Research Says: Add Variety

For years, musicians and athletes were taught to practice the same skill over and over again in the same way. The idea was to create unconscious competence or “muscle memory” in a certain area. Results from a recent study at John Hopkins University, however, show that adding variety to practice sessions increases learning and retention.[2]

Advertising

What the Research Showed

The study followed 86 volunteers as they learned to use a squeezing device to move a cursor on a computer screen. Volunteers were placed into one of three groups, with each group given a different way to practice the skill. All three groups completed the same first training exercise. Six hours later, one group completed the same exercise, another group completed a variation of the original exercise, and the third group did not get a second practice session. The researchers wanted to see which group would perform best on a subsequent test of their skill mastery. Defying previous wisdom about the importance of repetition, the researchers found that the group who completed the second, slightly varied practice session performed the best.[3]

If you are just starting the journey toward learning a new skill, congratulate yourself! Most people don’t even get that far. They either get distracted, lose interest, or tell themselves they will begin tomorrow. If you have already overcome these challenges, you are well on your to mastery. As you practice, remember not to let your enthusiasm push you past your limits and lead you to burn out. Make sure you take breaks when you sense your progress waning and that you add variety to make the most out of each practice session. With no burnout and lots of variety to keep you engaged, you will be able to tackle each new challenge that comes your way.

Advertising

Reference

[1] Better Humans: How to Learn Many Things at Once (And Stay Sane Doing It
[2] John Hopkins Medicine: Want to Learn a New Skill? Faster? Change Up Your Practice Sessions
[3] Science Alert: Scientists have found a way to help you learn new skills twice as fast

More by this author

Lindsay Shaffer

Freelance Writer, Artist, Photographer

Psychology Explains Why Busy People Should Always Make Fun A Priority In Life Having a Mentor Doesn’t Mean You’re Not Smart Enough, It Actually Means the Opposite 10 Best Sites That Offer Gorgeous Free Images for Blogs How You Can Generate The Next Million Dollar Idea By Doodling On A Napkin Do What You Love And Love What You Do; That’s The Only Way To Succeed

Trending in Productivity

1 How to Be Productive at Home and Make Every Day a Productive Day 2 7 Things to Remember When You’re Going Through Tough Times in Life 3 20 Productive Hobbies That Will Make You Smarter and Happier 4 Ditch Work Life Balance and Embrace Work Life Harmony 5 The Pomodoro Technique: Is It Right for You to Boost Productivity?

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on May 24, 2019

How to Be Productive at Home and Make Every Day a Productive Day

How to Be Productive at Home and Make Every Day a Productive Day

If you’ve ever wondered how to be productive at home or how you could possibly have a more productive day, look no further.

Below you’ll find six easy tips that will help you make the most out of your time:

1. Create a Good Morning Routine

One of the best ways to start your day is to get up early and eat a healthy breakfast.

CEOs and other successful people have similar morning routines, which include exercising and quickly scanning their inboxes to find the most urgent tasks.[1]

You can also try writing first thing in the morning to warm up your brain[2] (750 words will help with that). But no matter what you choose to do, remember to create good morning habits so that you can have a more productive day.

If you aren’t sure how to make morning routine work for you, this guide will help you:

The Ultimate Morning Routine to Make You Happy And Productive All Day

Advertising

2. Prioritize

Sometimes we can’t have a productive day because we just don’t know where to start. When that’s the case, the most simple solution is to list everything you need to get accomplished, then prioritize these tasks based on importance and urgency.

Week Plan is a simple web app that will help you prioritize your week using the Covey time management grid. Here’s an example of it:[3]

    If you get the most pressing and important items done first, you will be able to be more productive while keeping stress levels down.

    Lifehack’s CEO, Leon, also has great advice on how to prioritize. Take a look at this article to learn more about it:

    How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    3. Focus on One Thing at a Time

    One of the biggest killers of productivity is distractions. Whether it be noise or thoughts or games, distractions are a barrier to any productive day. That’s why it’s important to know where and when you work best.

    Advertising

    Need a little background noise to keep you on track? Try working in a coffee shop.

    Can’t stand to hear even the ticking of a clock while writing? Go to a library and put in your headphones.

    Don’t be afraid to utilize technology to make the best of your time. Sites like [email protected] and Simply Noise can help keep you focused and productive all day long.

    And here’s some great apps to help you focus: 10 Online Apps for Better Focus

    4. Take Breaks

    Focusing, however, can drain a lot of energy and too much of it at once can quickly turn your productive day unproductive.

    To reduce mental fatigue while staying on task, try using the Pomodoro Technique. It requires working on a task for 25 minutes, then taking a short break before another 25 minute session.

    After four “pomodoro sessions,” be sure to take a longer break to rest and reflect.

    Advertising

    I like to work in 25 and 5 minute increments, but you should find out what works best for you.

    5. Manage Your Time Effectively

    A learning strategies consultant once told me that there is no such thing as free time, only unstructured time.

    How do you know when exactly you have free time?

    By using the RescueTime app, you can see when you have free time, when you are productive, and when you actually waste time.

    With this data, you can better plan out your day and keep yourself on track.

    Moreover, you can increase the quality of low-intensity time. For example, reading the news while exercising or listening to meeting notes while cooking. Many of the mundane tasks we routinely accomplish can be paired with other tasks that lead to an overall more productive day.

    A bonus tip, even your real free time can be used productively, find out how:

    Advertising

    20 Productive Ways to Use Your Free Time

    6. Celebrate and Reflect

    No matter how you execute a productive day, make sure to take time and celebrate what you’ve accomplished. It’s important to reward yourself so that you can continue doing great work. Plus, a reward system is an incredible motivator.

    Additionally, you should reflect on your day in order to find out what worked and what didn’t. Reflection not only increases future productivity, but also gives your brain time to decompress and de-stress.

    Try these 10 questions for daily self reflection.

    More Articles About Daily Productivity

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

    Read Next