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The One Process That Marks the Difference Between Quick Learners and Ordinary Learners

The One Process That Marks the Difference Between Quick Learners and Ordinary Learners

Do you have difficulty comprehending a new concept after you read? Do you refuse to even attempt to improve your math skills? If this sounds like you, stop worrying because there is a simple approach you can use to improve. The trick is to simply apply what you are learning.

    Without any additional application, we will only retain 10% of what we read. 10%! Yet, if we attempt to teach others a new concept, we find that we are able to retain 90% of the information. Even simply discussing the concept with others will help us retain 50% of the information. Essentially, reading or learning a new concept will provide us no practical good without practice.[1]

    So, let’s look at what it actually means to apply what we learn and how we can use some powerful techniques to improve.

    Learning = Download + Process + Apply

    Think of the application of knowledge through this analogy: You have two islands separated by a river. One island represents knowing, the other island represents understanding. The application of new knowledge is like building a bridge between the two; hence, applying new knowledge bridges the gap between knowing and understanding.

    We should strive to create a habit of always considering ways to immediately implement what we are reading or learning into our daily lives. Let me show you why this is important by looking at a formula for learning called The Learning Formula (TLR).

    With TLR, we start by learning something new, followed by actively processing new knowledge, then applying it as soon as possible; thus, demonstrating that learning updates in our brain by using the following formula: Learning = Download + Process + Apply.[2]

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    Let’s briefly breakdown each component of the TLR.

    Download

    Similar to how a computer downloads information, we must first download knowledge. We can do this through the following ways: reading a book, listening to an audiobook, watching a video online, or listening to a lecture.

    The first thing we should do after downloading new information is to deconstruct it. Elon Musk has mastered this concept and found that knowledge has a logical structure. Drake Baer writes, “Over 2,300 years ago, Aristotle said that a first principle is the first basis from which a thing is known and that pursuing first principles is the key to doing any sort of systemic inquiry.”[3]

    Process

    We process new knowledge when we connect the dots between new and old ideas. Essentially, we are connecting new chunks of information with something we already know. Here are two great ideas to use when processing new information.

    • Analogies. An analogy is simply a comparison between two concepts for the purpose of explanation. Here is a brilliant (and a favorite of mine) example of an analogy (could also be a metaphor) for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carol.

    When Carol’s expedition into whimsical absurdity opens, a young girl (Alice) is strolling through a meadow, when a rabbit suddenly appears. She thinks nothing of it at first, until the rabbit pulls out a watch and looks at it. She realizes this is not an ordinary rabbit. This represents the new and unexplored or a burning curiosity. Alice runs after the rabbit like chasing a new idea. She decides to follow the rabbit down a rabbit hole, never considering how she would get out. This represents following through with a new idea for the excitement of discovery is like chasing the rabbit or idea down the rabbit hole. Alice is unsure where this chasing will take her, yet she is excited to pursue the idea without question. [4]

    • Diagrams. A diagram is a drawing that represents the appearance or structure of something in graphic form. This could be anything from a simple sketch to a detailed outline of the universe. For example, let’s look at a diagram to help us understand how objects interact in the classic book Flatland.

      Apply

      Let me ask you a simple question. What good does it do you to read or learn new information if you are not going to use it? Unless you are reading something for pure enjoyment (think Harry Potter), you must have the mindset of using the new knowledge to improve yourself.

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      By applying what we learn, we are able to secure it in long-term memory. One of the best ways to apply our knowledge is to teach it. Teaching forces us to dive into the concept and really start to understand it. However, the best way is to start applying it in your line of work and immediately use it. Once you gain practical experience with this new concept, try to explain the technical information to someone. For example, write a blog about it. It’s amazing what this can do for you retention of new knowledge!

      Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of applying new knowledge.

      • Improved Problem Solving. By applying what we learn, we become better problem solvers. The more we read and learn, the more information and knowledge we come across. If we apply it in our daily life, we will start to notice we use this new knowledge daily.
      • Improved Memory. The more we apply new knowledge, the better it will stick in our memory.

      Let your mind go wild and go down the rabbit hole

      If you find that you are the type of person who consistently goes down rabbit holes when learning or discussing a new concept… embrace it! Yes, embrace it! Here is why.

      I recently created a new theory for learning. I call it the Deep Rabbit Hole (DRH) Learning Theory[5]. I constructed the theory on the following premises.

      Premise #1. Learning a new concept takes us down a rabbit hole.

      Premise #2. Inside the rabbit hole, we find new ideas are easily connected to old ideas.

      Conclusion. Therefore, learning a new concept is easier by allowing yourself to go down a rabbit hole.

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      The key to this approach is to allow yourself the freedom to freely fall down the rabbit hole. When you chase the rabbit down the hole without any hesitation, you will be amazed where you end up! Here is how I construct my DRH (with a brief example).

      Restate the question.

      Clearly define the purpose.

      Use a DRH. Similar to a semantic tree: deconstruct the concept, question, or idea.

      Clearly identify the parts of the rabbit hole you want to apply. Here, you are coloring or circling those components you would like to further apply or break down into their own DRH. This is important, because a DRH will lead to lots of new ideas to get lost in!

      This is going to sound completely crazy, but I used a DRH to conduct a thought experiment. This approach allowed me to create a new (and crazy) theory. The Color of the 4th Dimension. The image below is an example of this creation. [6]

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        Elon Musk’s brilliant approach

        In my opinion, there is no one doing more to move the world forward today than Elon Musk. Musk is an advocate for learning across multiple fields. If we embrace learning across multiple fields, we find that we possess an information advantage as most people are solely focused on just one field.[7]

        Learning Transfer

        Musk has a large thirst for knowledge. He regularly exposes himself to numerous subjects. He also practices a skill known as the Learning Transfer. Essentially, this is taking what we learn and applying it to something else. Think of learning something in physics class and using it in sociology. For this, Musk has a two-step process.

        • Contrasting Cases. This is where you deconstruct something and look for the deeper understanding of it. For example, suppose you wanted to find the deeper principle for what makes the letter A an A. See below.

          • Reconstruct the principles you learn into different fields. To effectively do this, we should ask ourselves the following questions: “What does this remind me of?” and “Why does it remind me of it?”

          Other powerful techniques

          Lastly, there are quite a few additional techniques and examples we can use; however, I have narrowed the list down to two powerful techniques.

          1. ADEPT. When trying to comprehend a difficult concept, try the following: Find an Analogy, use a Diagram, Experience it, explain it in Plain English, and describe the Technical Details. [8]
          2. Solo Taxonomy. Structure of Observed Learning Outcome. This is a model describing the levels of increased complexity. Here, you move from an abstract thought, to a clear image, then to a creative and better outcome.

          I encourage you all to embrace the application of new knowledge. To me, this is common sense. Unless we use it, we will lose it. Learning plus thinking equals creating! Lastly, remember this powerful advice from Marianne Williamson:

          “You must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to be.”

          Reference

          More by this author

          Dr. Jamie Schwandt

          Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

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          Last Updated on August 15, 2018

          25 Most Useful Excel Shortcuts That Very Few People Know

          25 Most Useful Excel Shortcuts That Very Few People Know

          Imagine if you could use 5 simple shortcuts while working in Excel, and increase your productivity without wasting time for searching information in huge tables, writing long formulas, and sorting the data.

          Or even better:

          What if you would get 25 useful shortcuts… and each of them could simplify your work, so you could do much more every day?

          You’d definitely feel excited to read about them.

          Today is your lucky day because we are going to share with you in this article 25 great Excel shortcuts you can use in your work every day! This is your lucky chance, so go ahead and become a real professional in Excel without wasting your time.

          How important are Excel shortcuts for you?

          The most effective thing to check out if people really need something is to release a survey and look at the results. So, according to the anonymous survey, 99% of people said Excel shortcuts are critical or important for them.

          In general, there are more than 200 shortcuts in Excel. But when we have analyzed the data about how many shortcuts people know, we got the next results:

          • 26% of people know 10 or fewer shortcuts;
          • 61% of people know 10-50 shortcuts;
          • 10% of people know 50-100 shortcuts.

          As you can see, not so many people know a lot of shortcuts. Probably, some of them never think about increasing their productivity in such a simple way.

          Of course, it depends on how deep you use Excel. Some people use this powerful application just for making simple tables or graphs, others use it for everyday work to count something.

          Most of the accountants and businessmen use much more Excel functions for more complex tasks such as creating VBA macros, managing PivotTables, recalculating huge workbooks, outlining data, etc.

          But even those people who work with Excel every day very close may know a few shortcuts. Needless to say, they can do their job without shortcuts, but it usually takes for them much more time. T

          his sounds not funny, especially if you must finish a huge amount of work urgently. There is a great opportunity for you to increase your productivity in Excel and do your job faster with our useful shortcuts.

          5 Main reasons to learn excel shortcuts

          Many people don’t understand why they should use shortcuts if they can work without them. Of course, if you use Excel twice per year to make a simple table or a graph, it is probably not so important for you to know many shortcuts.

          But if you work in Excel every day, sorting huge tables and managing with tons of data, then shortcuts will help you to reach the next five goals:

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          1. Work efficiently and faster in Excel
          2. Manage big amounts of data easily and fast
          3. Stay calm and concentrated even while doing a tedious job
          4. Make your work accurately and properly without errors
          5. Get a better understanding of Microsoft Excel

          Who can use Excel shortcuts?

          There are a lot of people who can simplify their life with Excel shortcuts, and here are the groups that will definitely love using them:

          • People who work in banks, finance organizations, etc.
          • Businessmen who make tons of various reports and presentations in Excel for meetings and briefings.
          • Students who usually are lazy and impatient to make their homework because they don’t want to waste a lot of time working in Excel.
          • Private entrepreneurs who keep various data in Excel tables.

          Whether you are a student who hates Excel because it seems a time-wasting and boring application, or you are an accountant who must recalculate huge worksheets every day without making errors, we recommend reading and learning these Excel shortcuts to make your work simpler and save some time.

          With these simple but useful tricks, it is so easy to finish your job and get more time for yourself.

          25 Excel shortcuts to increase your productivity

          Here are 25 great Excel shortcuts you should learn and use for work or studying to make your job faster and simpler. Try to use them all and you will realize you were totally blind before while working in Excel:

          1. Format whatever object fast with Ctrl+1

          If you select any object in Excel – a cell, a chart, a chart axis, a drawing object – then press Ctrl+1, and you will get the Properties dialog for the certain object. This shortcut offers a very quick and easy way to format whatever object you’re working with.

          2. Use range names with Ctrol+G or F5 key

          If you use range names (which we strongly recommend to do) and you want to choose the range with a specific name references, press either Ctrl+G or the F5 key, which launches the GoTo dialog.

          If the name is simple, you can click on it in a list in that dialog. But if it’s at all unusual, Excel won’t list it; so you will need to type in the name. Then press OK.

          3. Use a range name in a formula with =sum( and F3

          Suppose you want to use a range name in a formula. For example, you want to sum the Sales range. Enter…

          =sum(

          …and then press F3.

          When you do so, Excel launches the Paste Name dialog. Just choose “Sales” from the list, press the OK button in the dialog, then enter the SUM function’s closing “)” to complete the formula.

          4. Launch Function Arguments dialog easily with Ctrl+A

          Suppose you want to check the help topic for a worksheet function. For example, you want to read about the MATCH function. In a cell, type…

          =match(

          …and then press Ctrl+A, or click the Insert Function (“fx“) button to the left of the formula bar.

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          When you do so, Excel displays the Function Arguments dialog, which might offer all the help you need.

          But if you still want to see the complete help topic, click the blue “Help on this function” hyperlink in the lower-left corner of the dialog. This technique works with all documented Excel functions.

          5. Copy stuff down the column without scrolling with Ctrl+D

          If you added a formula in a new column on the right of a huge dataset, and you want to copy that formula down without scrolling, do these steps:

          • go to the right to the column that has data (the column to the left of the new column with the formula);
          • press Ctrl+Down – to get to bottom;
          • move one cell to the right (with arrow key naturally);
          • press Ctrl+Shift+Up to select the new column, at the top of which is the formula you just created;
          • press Ctrl+D to fill down the formula.

          6. Quick access to any function with Alt+

          By customizing the quick access toolbar, you can create simple shortcuts to commands that you would otherwise have to find in the Ribbon tabs, or macros you have created yourself.

          The keyboard shortcut is simply selecting Alt+ (the number of the command you wish to select).

          For example, if you have customized your quick access toolbar to have Calc Sheet, Save, Open. To calculate sheet you would hit Alt+1, for save Alt+2, and for open Alt+3.

          A lot of people are unaware of this useful function, and it’s a great time saver.

          7. Format cells with Ctrl+1

          When you need to format cells, use Ctrl+1. Most people know this as the shortcut for the Format Cells dialog, but you can also use it to format almost anything in Excel, without a care about the state of the ribbon. Try this amazing and simple shortcut!

          8. Choose visible cells with Alt+

          When you need to choose visible cells only – use Alt+. This is the trick to copy only what you see. It is a priceless shortcut when you’re manually hiding rows and columns in the table.

          9. Use filtering

          Filtering – it is a powerful way to slice, dice, and sort through a huge table of information.

          It’s amazingly effective when you’re participating in a meeting to discuss something like a sales forecast, and everyone is looking in real-time at your spreadsheet projected on a screen (or on their monitors).

          To some people, you will be seen as the God of Spreadsheets, and this is not a joke!

          10. Insert or delete column/row easily with the Ctrl key

          Some people waste a lot of time even for simple operations, for example, when they need to insert/delete columns and rows in Excel.

          Use this shortcut to insert: with an entire row or column selected, use Ctrl+Shift ++.

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          To delete: with an entire row or column selected, use Ctrl + –.

          11. See formula results with F9

          If you want to check formula results within multiple formulas, highlight the formula and select F9 to see formula result.

          Don’t forget to undo before exiting the formula.

          12. Use ALT+Enter for more text within a cell

          If you want to add a second line of text within a cell, use ALT+Enter.

          13. Use EDATE to move a date on by a full calendar month:

          Here’s how to use EDATE:

          =EDATE(15/01/16,+1) = 15/02/2016 (15th Feb 2016)

          =EDATE (15/01/2016,-2) = 15/11/2015 (15th Nov 2016)

          14. Use EOMONTH to move a date onto the end of the month:

          Here’s how to use EMONTH:

          =EOMONTH(15/01/2016,0) = 31/01/2016 (31st Jan 2106)

          =EOMONTH (15/01/2016,-2) = 30/11/2015 (30th Nov 2015)

          15. Remove spaces with TRIM

          TRIM is a useful function known by few people. It removes any spaces at the beginning of a value. This is useful if you are pulling in values from somewhere else.

          16. Repeat commands with F4 or Ctrl+Y

          In many cases, you may need to repeat your last action. Use F4 or Ctrl+Y; you can repeat many commands like applying the same borders, format, or insert a worksheet again.

          17. Quick access to cells with the Ctrl key and Shift key

          When you need to go to the first or last cell of a worksheet, no matter where you are, use Ctrl+Home, Ctrl+End combinations.

          And here is a pleasant bonus for you: add the Shift key to select everything on the way!

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          18. Use Ctrl+ to create a timestamp

          If you need a date stamp and/or a timestamp in your document, there is no need to type a date and time! Use shortcuts Ctrl+ ; (date) Ctrl+Shift+ : (time). It works like a magic and helps to save your time and nerves.

          19. Use autosum shortcut for sum function anywhere

          Autosum shortcut – use Alt =. It is a “magic” shortcut of Excel to automatically insert a sum function.

          You can use this shortcut to sum rows, columns, or even an entire table in one step without wasting your time.

          20. Use data validation

          This is an amazing but underutilized tool in Excel, which can be used for a variety of things:

          • Create dependent drop-down lists;
          • Create drop-down lists;
          • Protect/restrict data input of specific cells (without the need for VBA macros).

          21. Use conditional formatting

          It can be used for various purposes such as color format or cell format of cells, rows or columns based on dependent cell values or formats.

          22. Use formula auditing

          This is a great tool to analyze and trace precedent or dependent cells, check errors and evaluate formulas.

          The “Watch Window” is a feature to keep a snapshot of an area of the spreadsheet, and then move to another area of the workbook – particularly valuable if you’re managing large spreadsheets or don’t have a second screen.

          23. Use Scenario Manager to generate summary outputs of a spreadsheet

          Scenario Manager (under “What-if Analysis”) enables users to generate high-level, summary outputs of a spreadsheet – without the need to replicate the entire workbook.

          It will present multiple scenarios of a spreadsheet in a succinct, high-level summary worksheet.

          24. Use INDIRECT to set up large tables

          INDIRECT makes it easy to set up tables which reference larger tables without a lot of referencing work or cutting and pasting; especially for dynamic spreadsheets.

          25. Use OFFSET for complicated calculations or formulas

          OFFSET can be useful for things like calculating YTD numbers or creating formulas that take data in rows and using in columns.

          The bottom line

          As you can see, when you have a boring or tedious job to do, the best way to do it fast is not looking for a way how to avoid it, but searching for the shortest variant to do it!

          That is why we suggest keeping in mind these Excel shortcuts that will help you to save a lot of time and nerves.

          If it seems hard for you to remember all them, you can print out the list of shortcuts and keep it on your worktable. Use it to search for some help when you need it, and over time, you’ll remember all shortcuts easily.

          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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