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Re-learn How to Learn in the Information Age

Re-learn How to Learn in the Information Age

When you scroll through Facebook, you can see posts about simple stretches to relieve back pain, how to make a s’mores, and how to be single and happy. Or if you go on Youtube, you can find gurus talk about makeup tips, or Youtubers teach playing guitar.

But those stretching exercises, the way to make a s’mores, how to be happy being single, how to do a good makeup, and how to play guitar better are things that most people never master doing at the end.

Technology has brought a surplus of information to the world, but it hasn’t made people smarter. The mere exposure to data doesn’t make people better thinkers and learners.

The fact is, most people have never learned how to learn properly.

On average, people spend 50 minutes per day on Facebook alone.[1] Being exposed to information is not the same as internalizing and adapting the knowledge. Even during formal education, students acquire knowledge quickly to write papers and take exams; turning what they learn into wisdom that they can apply throughout their lives is uncommon.

The conventional systems of knowledge acquisition fail to make use of the brain’s potential.[2] Unless we use that information, we’re bound to forget it.

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Taking in Knowledge— Then and Now

How to apply knowledge is different today because it’s easy to expose to a lot of information every day. Traditional learning styles often involved apprenticeship or immediate active application of skills.[3]

If you were trying to learn to ski before the Information Age, you’d likely start by finding an instructor. The experienced skier would help you understand the equipment and act as a guide while you learned the mechanics of the activity. You’d constantly work to apply what you learned by practicing on your own time, the bulk of your learning was done on the slopes. Eventually, you wouldn’t need your instructor, and you’d consider yourself a competent and confident skier.

Today, when you decide that you want to learn to ski, you spend hours perusing the internet for every blog post and article about skiing. You watch videos of people skiing, research the best gear, and join a Facebook group for winter sports enthusiasts.You may feel like an expert in all things ski-related after you dig into these resources, but have you actually learned to ski? There’s a big difference between reading about putting on skis and actually hitting the slopes.

Today, the quality of the knowledge is sacrificed for quantity.

There’s an imbalance between the knowledge we take in and the information that we use.[4] Human brain is working as quickly as it can to send data from the working memory to the long-term memory, but it can’t retain everything.[5]

The chase for more information is thrilling too. The desire to keep up sends most people scrolling through Facebook on a frequent basis. People are plagued by the fear of missing out (FOMO) to the detriment of authentic learning.[6] Most are up to date on sensational stories, and are sharing like mad on Facebook and WhatsApp, but convenient access to knowledge is no replacement for deep learning through effort and concentration. Only very little of the easily-accessed information have people really applied in their lives.

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How to Realistically Absorb and Apply Information

While it’d be perfect to absorb and apply 100% of the information, it’s not quite possible. Perhaps there are a few hyper-productive individuals who can achieve this level of success. But most of us aren’t Albert Einstein, and we’re pressed for time. We have to be pragmatic about how we approach information if we want it to stick.

If you want to hang onto information for the long-haul, you’ll need to be selective about what you choose to absorb. Without a plan, getting information from the internet is like trying to eat the entire buffet in one sitting. Break the overabundance of resources into easily digestible pieces so that you can give the information time to become meaningful to you.

1. Get a brain filter — filter out information that won’t improve you.

Scrolling through the internet is a passive form of knowledge acquisition. The amount of information that we can access is always going to be more than we can process. To filter the information you take in, focus on what you need to improve. What must you learn to be successful? Taking this simple step enables you to pass over unrelated and tangentially-related information.

As you continue to grow your knowledge and skills, you can update the parameters of your filter.

If you return to the skiing example, you establish your filter by deciding what you need to learn about skiing right now. Are you trying to figure out how to put on the skis properly? Do you know how to stop when you’re heading down a slope? If you are working on the fundamentals, it won’t be valuable to spend time learning about advanced tricks. After you’re proficient in the basics, modify your filter so that you continue to grow your skills.

2. Take information into the real world — do what you’ve read to confirm your learning.

Knowledge isn’t useful until you can apply it. If you are trying to learn a new skill, you’ll have to do the things that you’ve read about in your research. Until you’ve made multiple attempts to master the ski-trick you saw on Youtube, you haven’t internalized it. When you can land the trick without thinking or recall information without struggling, it is yours.

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It isn’t always easy to take information from the computer screen into the real world. There’s a fair chance that you are going to fail the first time you attempt something.

When you are learning to ski, you are going to fall. You’ll probably fail to execute a smooth turn, and even when you do succeed, you’ll undoubtedly compare yourself to all the other skiers on the slope that day. Giving up when you fall or allowing your brain to spin a self-defeating narrative keeps you from learning. Making mistakes is a potent part of the learning process.[7]

Practice, get feedback; and practice, and get feedback.

Getting into the habit of applying what you’ve learned is excellent, but there is only so much that you can do on your own. You need the input of others to take your skills to the next level.

You can initiate a feedback loop by performing a self-assessment to take stock of where you are in the learning process, but if you want to make more growth, seek feedback from others.[8]

It is easy to stop at the self-assessment stage and convince yourself that you are doing everything well, but you don’t know what you don’t know. Insights from others can help you determine where you should focus your learning efforts next so that you are always improving.

When you start to build new skills, you may be able to process instructions in the moment, but if you don’t continue to practice, you won’t internalize the knowledge. You’ll have to repeat your actions or process until it becomes second-nature.

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For example, when you learn a new word, you have to go through the slow process of looking it up, repeating the definition, and using it in a sentence several times. If you don’t use the word, you will forget it, but if you use it enough, it comes to mind with ease.

3. Stay alert to what to learn next — avoid wasting time on unnecessary information.

When you target your searches as opposed to mindlessly scrolling, you’ll retain more information.

Take opportunities to reflect on what you have learned along the way. You’ll not only feel better about your progress, but be able to make use of what you already know when you take on a different challenge.

To refer to our skiing example for a final time, imagine that you’ve mastered the basics of movement. You can turn smoothly and stop when you need to. What do you need to learn next? How will the things that you already know about skiing impact the way that you approach new techniques and challenges?

Knowledge Is Not Meant to Be Known, but to Be Applied

To know something deeply, you’ll have to engage with it on a consistent basis while giving yourself plenty of opportunities for self-reflection and objective feedback. Knowledge is cumulative. The greatest minds and most skilled athletes of our time didn’t become that way by scouring social media or reading books — they put in the time to make meaning of their the data that was relevant to their studies.

True learning is not always easy. You’ll experience struggles as you tackle new challenges and wade through the ephemera of the Digital Age. If you can focus your efforts and make deliberate choices about your learning, you can navigate the abundance of resources to make meaningful gains in your life.

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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10 Best Time Management Books Recommended By Entrepreneurs

10 Best Time Management Books Recommended By Entrepreneurs

We all know that the most precious resource in life is time. Once lost, you can never rewind the clock. For entrepreneurs, this pressure is enhanced.

Having an idea and a vision for a business requires courage. Launching that business in a world where many are satisfied with their comfort zones requires guts. Once you’ve launched the business, the goal is to be consistent.

Success is directly related to consistency. Consistency is the direct result of how you manage your time.

Here are 10 awesome time management books that have been recommended by successful entrepreneurs.

1. The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

This is an awesome resource that jolts everything you’ve ever learned about the time needed to build a successful career. Personally, I was shell-shocked when I first heard of a “4-hour workweek.” At the time, I could hardly get through the typical 9-5.

I read the book and my life has never been the same. I’ve managed to escape the rate race, work less hours, and live life to the fullest.

Joel Bomgar, founder and CEO of Bomgar, had the following to say about the book:

“The productivity principles and philosophy of productivity and effectiveness encompassed in [The 4-Hour Work Week] are powerful. I read it a few years back and it was one of the most life-transforming books I’ve ever read.”

    Get the book here!

    2. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki

    This is another fantastic resource that shifts your paradigm and mindset. This book taught me that income-generating assets usually provide healthier bottom-line results than even the best of traditional jobs. This might not always mean millions of dollars in your bank account, but it may give you that priceless time freedom.

    Dane Maxwell, founder of an incredible resource called The Foundation – a community of over 60,000 entrepreneurs – had this to say:

    “It all started when I read the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad. I’m not a typically really super intelligent guy so I really appreciated the simplistic way that Rich Dad, Poor Dad explained financial wealth. He talked about passive income and not exchanging time for money.”

      Get the book here!

      3. No B.S. Time Management For Entrepreneurs by Dan Kennedy

      Being an entrepreneur is tough. You’ve got to set some serious targets upfront. You might not achieve them all, but you have to gun for them.

      This book gives you three incredibly powerful tips and targets:

      • Self-discipline is the magic power that makes you unstoppable
      • Avoid the time vampires that want to suck you dry
      • As an entrepreneur, your time is worth $340 per hour

      It is impossible to start as $340-per-hour entrepreneur. But, it should certainly be your target as you grow.

      Paul Gallipeau, Digital Marketing entrepreneur, has this as one of his highly recommended reads.

        Get the book here!

        4. In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honore

        We live in an unnecessarily fast-paced world. In Praise of Slowness advocates for the reversal of a fast-forward mentality and lifestyle. It entrenches a culture revolution against the notion that faster is always better.

        For any entrepreneur, this is a must-read.

        There are too many opportunities out there. There are opportunities within opportunities. In the midst of all these opportunities, you need to slow down and have a clearly defined vision that will help you avoid growing into a chaotic entrepreneur.

        This is a resource highly recommended by Joe Griffin, co-founder of iAcquire.

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          Get the book here!

          5. Priorities: Resources for Changing Lives by James C. Petty

          This book addresses time management from a spiritual perspective.

          I’m a huge advocate for the idea that less is more. I truly believe you can get more done by doing less.

          The success of this theory all lies in your ability to prioritize. Not everything that screams for your attention is important. You need to proactively ignore things that are not your most urgent priorities.

          With this resource, James C. Petty helps bring focus into frazzled lives. Using the “Assessing My Priorities” worksheet, he walks you through the process of organizing time under the categories of God, the people of God, and God’s work in the world.

          With sound biblical advice and practical applications, this booklet demonstrates ways in which you can reduce unnecessary stress, identify true priorities, and begin to get your overbooked schedule under control.

            Get the book here!

            6. On The Shortness Of Life by Seneca

            Recommended by Tim Ferriss, the incredible entrepreneur and author of The 4-Hour Work Week, this resource highlights that we have more than enough time to live our lives to the fullest.

            Unfortunately, we waste much of it.

            The book teaches how you can live a more fulfilled life by tweaking your perspective on time management.

              Get the book here!

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              7. Organize Yourself by Kate Kelly

              Shifting your paradigm and mindset is important. That’s the reason why most of these books are geared at changing the way you think about the relationship between time and entrepreneurship.

              This book is about shifting your thinking about execution. Before execution, you need a plan. You need to be organized.

              This book will help you get organized by providing you with essential rules for better time, money, space and paper management.

              It reveals a professional organizer’s proven techniques for streamlining daily life.

              It provides fast, effective methods for dealing with common clutter, along with helping you to overcome procrastination and other organizational ailments.

                Get the book here!

                8. Time Efficiency Makeover by Dorothy K. Breininger

                We all are prone to procrastination at some point or other in our entrepreneurial journey. When things are not going quite according to how you planned, it is all too easy to get distracted.

                This book will help you decide whether procrastination is a real problem or if you are experiencing other life challenges.

                For true procrastinators, this book is filled with step-by-step guidelines on how to stop putting off those home and work projects, unpaid bills and neglected relationships. You will understand what is holding you back and how to keep focused and motivated on present and future events.

                A must-read for anyone who wants to improve the efficiency and satisfaction of their lives.

                Phil McGraw, an American television personality, author, psychologist, and the host of the television show Dr. Phil, highly recommends this resource and has the following to say:

                “These guys really know how to get things set up to maximize your time. They absolutely can create time that seems to come from nowhere.”

                  Get the book here!

                  9. How Did I Get So Busy? by Burton Valorie

                  I was once a busy bee and quickly realized that being busy was not necessarily the most effective way to reach my destiny. As the editor at Run For Wealth, a Nike Run Club Coach, and an online marketer, I have to constantly have to find the true balance between business versus productivity.

                  I highly recommend this book because it’s a simple and effective way to rediscover your true priorities, shift out of overdrive, and reclaim your life and schedule.

                    Get the book here!

                    10. Aligned Thinking: Make Every Moment Count by Jim Steffen

                    Ultimately, we all want to live a fulfilled life. Having a great paradigm shift and being organized means nothing if you can’t make every moment count.

                    This book, written in the style of a simple fable, helps you to develop practical ways to focus on what’s important now and make the moment count.

                      Get the book here!

                      Conclusion

                      As an entrepreneur, you’ll come across many challenges. But, the biggest challenge will often be the issue of using your time effectively – especially early on in your entrepreneurial journey. This is the time when you’ll feel obliged to make everyone happy.

                      Time is a precious resource. For those who truly understand its value, it often seems like they are living in a cocoon.

                      You are not living in a cocoon. As an entrepreneur, you are in the minority, but it’s fine. I hope this list of resources will help you find comfort in the fact that being in the minority probably means you are well on your way to a fantastic and successful entrepreneurial journey.

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                      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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