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How to Learn Smart and Become a Quick Learner

How to Learn Smart and Become a Quick Learner

Do you find you’re envious of people who are able to learn quickly? They seem to get a concept straight away while you’re still trying to get your head around it. We often form the belief that these quick learners are just more intelligent – that their brains are wired to understand and pick up complicated formulas, strategies and concepts more easily.

However, while everyone is different when it comes to learning, being smart has nothing to do with being a quick learner but rather it’s about adopting different learning strategies in order to allow the brain to figure it out more easily.

There are certain tactics to allow you to become a quick learner and proves that intelligence really has nothing to do with it. By learning these strategies, you can quicken up your understanding of a topic and apply it to pretty much anything you learn.

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Adopt These Learning Styles and You Can Become a Quick Learner Too

Learning quickly is all about retaining information more efficiently and enjoying the learning process. Since this is the case, almost anyone is able to become a quick learner so here are 5 concepts you can try out.

Visceralization

When we’re very young we learn through creation – drawing, painting, using vivid colours and visualisation which all fundamentally stems from our imagination. Once we enter our older years at school, we’re encouraged to forget all this and our brains turn to memorisation instead.

But, of course, this doesn’t suit everyone and it’s often the reason why many people struggle academically which plants the notion that we’re just not that smart compared to others.

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Connecting concepts with visual creation is a really good way for our brain to understand better. Don’t be afraid to create colourful pictures and diagrams in order to get your head around something difficult and mundane. Not only does this help with the learning process and connecting the dots, but it also excites the brain and keeps it motivated.

Using Metaphors

The brain remembers things better when you compare an idea or concept with something else. This is where metaphors are a good way of understanding and cementing information. Using one concept to illustrate another will, again, help your brain connect the dots – in other words, it’s about capturing the essential nature of a concept to explain the abstract.

Comparing radio waves to ripples on a water surface or electricity flowing to water moving through a pipe, for example, allows the light bulb to go off in our mind as our brain happily likes applying known concepts to new.

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Linking

If you’ve seen those people who can memorise a whole deck of cards in a random order then you’ll be pleased to know it’s not because they’re much smarter than others. They are using a technique called linking.

Linking is, again, using that imagination of ours. This time it’s using story-telling to link one thing to another to create a flow. If you wanted to memorise a grocery list – oranges, milk, bananas, honey – you could imagine an orange man (oranges) bringing a cow (milk) to a monkey (bananas) who got stung by a bee (honey). The beauty of this technique is that it can help you remember anything from extremely long lists to difficult abstract concepts. The more bizarre, the better.

Total Immersion

You’ve probably heard this technique when it comes to learning a new language fast. The idea is to completely surround yourself with what you need to learn in order to force your brain to use it and make sense of it.

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If you stay in a new country where they just don’t speak your language, then you have to adapt in order to survive. This survival mode and constant repetition quickens up the learning process ten fold because your brain is in constant learning mode.

The Five-Year Old Method

This is an excellent way to find out how well you understand a new concept. Imagine having to explain this new concept to a child or at least, someone who has no idea what you’re talking about! It’s all about being able to simplify what you learn by reducing the complexity and using analogies. So once you’ve been introduced to a new piece of information ask yourself how you’d explain this to someone else. Can you do it?

If you can, you know you’ve mastered it so make sure you stop once in a while and just explain it to yourself in a simple way to confirm that you’ve got it. Most of the time it’s difficult to learn quickly because we haven’t made sure we’ve understood all the concepts along the way. This technique will eliminate this.

So go ahead and give these concepts a try. If you’re struggling to learn something, take heart that everyone has their own style of learning. Don’t be afraid to go back to your childhood roots and unlock that imagination – it will go a long way in helping you learn more quickly.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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Last Updated on September 11, 2019

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

How often do you feel overwhelmed and disorganized in life, whether at work or home? We all seem to struggle with time management in some area of our life; one of the most common phrases besides “I love you” is “I don’t have time”. Everyone suggests working from a to-do list to start getting your life more organized, but why do these lists also have a negative connotation to them?

Let’s say you have a strong desire to turn this situation around with all your good intentions—you may then take out a piece of paper and pen to start tackling this intangible mess with a to-do list. What usually happens, is that you either get so overwhelmed seeing everything on your list, which leaves you feeling worse than you did before, or you make the list but are completely stuck on how to execute it effectively.

To-do lists can work for you, but if you are not using them effectively, they can actually leave you feeling more disillusioned and stressed than you did before. Think of a filing system: the concept is good, but if you merely file papers away with no structure or system, the filing system will have an adverse effect. It’s the same with to-do lists—you can put one together, but if you don’t do it right, it is a fruitless exercise.

Why Some People Find That General To-Do Lists Don’t Work?

Most people find that general to-do lists don’t work because:

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  • They get so overwhelmed just by looking at all the things they need to do.
  • They don’t know how to prioritize the items on list.
  • They feel that they are continuously adding to their list but not reducing it.
  • There’s a sense of confusion seeing home tasks mixed with work tasks.

Benefits of Using a To-Do List

However, there are many advantages working from a to-do list:

  • You have clarity on what you need to get done.
  • You will feel less stressed because all your ‘to do’s are on paper and out of your mind.
  • It helps you to prioritize your actions.
  • You don’t overlook so many tasks and forget anything.
  • You feel more organized.
  • It helps you with planning.

4 Golden Rules to Make a To-Do List Work

Here are my golden rules for making a “to-do” list work:

1. Categorize

Studies have shown that your brain gets overwhelmed when it sees a list of 7 or 8 options; it wants to shut down.[1] For this reason, you need to work from different lists. Separate them into different categories and don’t have more than 7 or 8 tasks on each one.

It might work well for you to have a “project” list, a “follow-up” list, and a “don’t forget” list; you will know what will work best for you, as these titles will be different for everybody.

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2. Add Estimations

You don’t merely need to know what has to be done, but how long it will take as well in order to plan effectively.

Imagine on your list you have one task that will take 30 minutes, another that could take 1 hour, and another that could take 4 hours. You need to know the moment you look at the task, otherwise you undermine your planning, so add an extra column to your list and include your estimation of how long you think the task will take, and be realistic!

Tip: If you find it a challenge to estimate accurately, then start by building this skill on a daily basis. Estimate how long it will take to get ready, cook dinner, go for a walk, etc., and then compare this to the actual time it took you. You will start to get more accurate in your estimations.

3. Prioritize

To effectively select what you should work on, you need to take into consideration: priority, sequence and estimated time. Add another column to your list for priority. Divide your tasks into four categories:

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  • Important and urgent
  • Not urgent but important
  • Not important but urgent
  • Not important or urgent

You want to work on tasks that are urgent and important of course, but also, select some tasks that are important and not urgent. Why? Because these tasks are normally related to long-term goals, and when you only work on tasks that are urgent and important, you’ll feel like your day is spent putting out fires. You’ll end up neglecting other important areas which most often end up having negative consequences.

Most of your time should be spent on the first two categories.

4.  Review

To make this list work effectively for you, it needs to become a daily tool that you use to manage your time and you review it regularly. There is no point in only having the list to record everything that you need to do, but you don’t utilize it as part of your bigger time management plan.

For example: At the end of every week, review the list and use it to plan the week ahead. Select what you want to work on taking into consideration priority, time and sequence and then schedule these items into your calendar. Golden rule in planning: don’t schedule more than 75% of your time.

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Bottom Line

So grab a pen and paper and give yourself the gift of a calm and clear mind by unloading everything in there and onto a list as now, you have all the tools you need for it to work. Knowledge is useless unless it is applied—how badly do you want more time?

To your success!

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Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews via unsplash.com

Reference

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