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Learning Can Be Much Easier If You Follow This 5-Step Approach

Learning Can Be Much Easier If You Follow This 5-Step Approach

Learning a new concept can be a rewarding experience, yet it is frustrating when new information simply floats around in your head without sticking. Often times, we are forced to read a book repeatedly just to get the information to store in our memory.

Learning should not be simply about forced memory, and it should not be a difficult task. The mind is an amazing tool. Luckily, there are powerful methods that can assist us in truly grasping difficult concepts. The ADEPT Method for Learning is a practical approach to improving your brainpower. Incorporate this approach into your way of thinking and use it to learn everything with ease.[1]

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    Start with an Analogy

    A simple trick to improve how we learn is to compare it to something we already know. For example, how would you explain the function of a neuron (otherwise known as a brain cell)? What analogy would you use to explain how a neuron functions? How would you compare it to something the learner is familiar with?

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    Let’s give this analogy a shot: Neurons are like transportation systems. They carry neurotransmitters (we will refer to them as information) from one neuron to another, similar to how transportation systems transport people from one city to another.[2]

    Think with both sides of your brain by way of a Diagram

    Use a diagram if you are unable to find the correct words to describe a concept. A great resource for identifying diagrams to visualize and grasp difficult concepts is Pinterest. By using diagrams, we are able to visualize new and abstract ideas. Understanding complex and abstract ideas requires both sides of the brain to function together and form powerful connections.

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    Experience the idea by using an Example

    What should you do if you are confused about a topic? You can either ask someone to show you or you can attempt to figure it out for yourself. By figuring it out for yourself, your mind is then able to learn through connections. By using examples, it allows you to experience the idea. By exposing yourself to examples, you are able to formulate your own understanding of the concept.

    Describe the concept in Plain language

    By using The Feynman Technique, constructed by the late theoretical physicist Richard Feynman, we are able to take an abstract concept and explain it in Plain English. Feynman posits, “Explain it like I am 5.” This forces us to make it really simple, and allows us to truly comprehend the concept. Avoid using technical jargon and remember to keep it simple. If you are unable to describe the concept in Plain English, then you most likely do not truly understand it.

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    Convert your comprehension of the concept into a Technical description

    Once you have a basic understanding of the concept, the final step is to comprehend the technical description of it. By using the ADEPT method, we can start with a rough idea and sharpen it until we clearly identify the technical details. For example, if you have been using the ADEPT method to grasp the Pythagorean Theorem, you must then be able to provide the technical terminology (such as an explanation of the formula) for other people to use.[3]

      Follow this advice when using the ADEPT method: Find an intriguing Analogy to describe what it’s like; use Pinterest to help you find a Diagram; conduct a Google search to find websites for Examples; describe the concept in Plain English by visiting websites such as Reddit; and finally, use easy to access websites (such as Wikipedia) to convert your concept into a Technical Description.

      The ADEPT method is a powerful tool that will help you strengthen and comprehend concepts in a faster and more effective way.

      Reference

      More by this author

      Dr. Jamie Schwandt

      Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

      How to Upgrade Your Critical Thinking Skills for a Sharper Mind 10 Brain Training Hacks to Increase Your IQ, Focus and Creativity How to Be a Maverick and Develop a Maverick Mindset Learn How to Learn: How to Understand and Connect Difficult Ideas Easily How to Avoid Micromanagement with Swarm Intelligence (Step-By-Step Guide )

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      How to Fight Information Overload

      How to Fight Information Overload

      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.

      What you need to do is focus on these 4 steps:

      1. Set your goals.
      2. Decide whether you really need the information.
      3. Consume only the minimal effective dose.
      4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming too much information.

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

      The Nature of the Problem

      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 post we don’t even consider reading it, 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.

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      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. 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…

      Why information overload is bad

      It 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.

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

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      So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with your 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. What to do 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.

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      If it does then it’s time for another question. Will you be able to put this information into action immediately? Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks? Or 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. 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 Body,Tim 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.

      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.

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

      In Closing

      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.

      Feel free to shoot me a comment below and share your own story of fighting information overload. What are you doing to keep it from sabotaging your life?

      (Photo credit: Businessman with a Lot of Discarded Paper via Shutterstock)

      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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