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Last Updated on January 27, 2021

How to Use Visual Learning to Work More Effectively

How to Use Visual Learning to Work More Effectively

Knowledge is essential to become successful in life, your career, and your business. Without learning new concepts and becoming proficient in your craft, it’s difficult to excel in your chosen career or archive knowledge to pass down to the next generation. Visual learning is one way to do this, and it can be incredibly effective in helping you work better.

Content comes in various forms, and because how we learn influences how much we know, we need to talk about learning styles. This article will focus on how to utilize visual learning to boost your career or business.

The Importance of Knowing Your Learning Style

Knowing your learning style enables you to process new information to the best of your ability. Not only does it reduce your learning curve, but you’re able to communicate these same concepts to others effectively.

It all starts when you’re able to first identify the best way you learn.

As a college student, I soon figured out that taking online courses without visual aids or having an instructor in front of me led to poor retention of concepts. Sure, I got good grades and performed excellently in my online exams. However, I discovered that I couldn’t maintain this performance level because I forgot 80 percent of the course content by the end of the semester.

There are several types of learning styles, which exist as part of the VARK model. To give an idea of how visual learning stacks up against other learning styles, here’s a brief mention of some of the different types of learning styles we have.

The four most popular types of learning styles are:

  • Visual learning style (learning by seeing)
  • Aural or auditory learning style (learning by listening to information spoken or presented)
  • Read/Write learning style (learning that involves reading and writing texts)
  • Tactile/Kinesthetic learning style (learning by touching and doing)

For the purposes of this article, we will be focusing on using visual learning.

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Are You a Visual Learner?

When it comes to boosting your career, business (or education), a visual learner is one who would most definitely choose shapes, images, symbols, or reading over auditory messages.

This may mean you prefer to read an actual map when navigating to a new place over listening to verbal directions. It may also mean that you have trouble remembering what your manager said at the meeting because there were no graphs or illustrations to support the points raised.

Visual Learner Infographic

    Most people who struggle with learning probably aren’t leveraging their best learning styles[1]. The earlier you identify how your learning style can boost your success, the less struggle you will encounter with processing new information throughout your career.

    However, visual learning in particular can really boost your career or business whether it is your preferred learning style or not, and here’s why:

    Several studies have arrived at the conclusion that the brain retains more information with the help of visual aids. In other words, images are directly processed by our long-term memory, which helps us store information for longer periods of time.[2]

    While some lessons can be performed orally, several concepts can only make sense if you have an image with an explanation of sequences (i.e. learning about human DNA).

    Visual learning does use a different part of the brain, and visual cues are processed by the part of the brain known as the occipital lobe.

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    By engaging more parts of the brain during learning, you’re able to have a fuller understanding of concepts and facilitate better interaction with your immediate environment.

    How to Use Visual Learning for Success

    Here are 4 ways to use visual learning to boost your career or business:

    1. Bring Back the To-Do List

    We live in an age where computers have taken over virtually every aspect of productivity and most human functions. However, written lists are making a comeback, and with an endless number of important tasks to complete, having a to-do list of tasks in order of importance can improve your productivity.

    While coming up with a list is initially challenging, adding colors and shapes to written lists that you personally write and manage gives you an extra layer of assurance and aids recall so that you actually get stuff done.

    I have tried this technique in my work as a registered nurse and discovered that adding shapes and colors to to-do lists helps me delegate tasks, recognize where more work is needed, and makes it easy to cross off completed tasks at the end of the day.

    2. Add Graphs, Charts, and Symbols to Reports

    Yes, it seems like more work for you, but graphs enable you to monitor the heartbeat of your business.

    Graphs and charts help you find trends in your finances, make a budget, and analyze data overtime. With the help of free and premium software available on the market, it has become easier to take plain data and convert it to relevant information displayed in different shapes and images in a matter of minutes.

    As an entrepreneur, you can make predictions and allocate funds wisely when you’re able to see whether your efforts are rewarded. You can use colors and charts to delegate actions to members of your team and track performance at the same time.

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    When broken down into monthly, quarterly, bi-annual, or annual goals, graphs and charts communicate what ordinary text cannot.

    3. Effectively Brainstorm With Mind-Mapping

    With mind-mapping, you’re organizing information accurately and drawing relationships between concepts and pieces from a whole, which is a great way to tap into visual learning.

    Think of a mind map as a tree with several branches. For example, the tree can symbolize healthcare, while each branch stands for nursing, medicine, laboratory science, and so on. When you look at nursing, you can further branch out into types of nursing; pediatric, women’s health, critical care, and so on.

    It’s an interesting relationship; the more ideas you’re able to come up with for your chosen subject, the deeper you get and the stronger the association.

    Mind maps really show you relationships between subjects and topics, and simplifies processes that might seem complicated at first glance. In a way, it is like a graphical representation of facts presented in a simple, visual format.

    Mind mapping isn’t only limited to career professionals; business owners can benefit from mind mapping by organizing their online learning activities and breaking down complex tasks into simple actions so that you can accurately measure productivity.

    4. Add Video Streaming to Meetings

    What if you could double the productivity of your team members by video streaming your meetings or adding flash animation to your presentation?

    When you offer video as an alternative method of processing information to colleagues, there is a greater chance of retaining information because we recreate these stories as images in our minds.

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    For organizations that hold virtual meetings, it can also be an effective way to enhance performance as people can see their colleagues in addition to whatever form of video is provided during the meeting.

    Final Thoughts

    The question is not whether visual learning is better than the other learning styles. Each has their merits and situations where they will be most useful.

    The goal here is to supplement your existing dominant learning style with visual learning so that you can experience a significant boost in how you process and use everyday information.

    You might discover that understanding scientific concepts is much easier after incorporating visual learning or that you’re able to understand your organization’s value when projected on a visual screen with charts and graphs.

    The overall goal is to always be learning and to continue to leverage visual learning style in your career and business.

    More About Learning Styles

    Featured photo credit: You X Ventures via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Margaret Olatunbosun

    Creative coach who teaches high-achievers how to thrive at the intersection of creativity, passion, and profit.

    How to Use Visual Learning to Work More Effectively How to Stop Automatic Negative Thoughts When You’re Overwhelmed 13 Ways Living with Purpose Makes You Happier and More Fulfilled 11 Tips on How to Resolve (Almost) Any Conflict in the Workplace What Is an Apprenticeship (And How Does It Benefit Your Career)?

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    Published on April 20, 2021

    How To Ask the Right Questions For Effective Learning

    How To Ask the Right Questions For Effective Learning

    Asking the right questions is basically the magic key to any kind of personal or professional development. Sounds pretty awesome, huh? Unfortunately, many people are afraid to ask questions at all. They often think that they look stupid if they ask too many questions.

    Well, funny enough, it’s impossible to move forward without asking questions. How are you supposed to learn anything new if you’re never wondering, “how can I do that?” or “what is required to achieve my desired result?”

    But it’s not only about asking others. You must also master the art of asking yourself the right questions. Yes, you read that right. The kind of questions you ask yourself can have a huge impact on your results. And they can, in fact, make the difference between hitting your goals and not moving forward at all.

    Alright, so in this article, I’ll cover the question (you see what I mean?): how do I ask the right questions for effective learning?

    Why Is Asking the Right Questions Important for Effective Learning?

    Before we look at the “how,” let’s first talk about why it’s so important to ask the right questions for effective learning.

    1. Questions Lead to Answers

    As mentioned before, you can’t learn or move forward without asking questions. Just imagine if you start a new job and you never asked anything at all. Would you ever be able to do a good job?

    Sure, you might be lucky and get all your instructions delivered on a silver platter. But even if that’s the case, what will you do with very specific situations that weren’t covered in the instructions? Or what will you do with constructive criticism from your boss?

    If you just take that and then only do exactly what your boss said without ever questioning what they really meant, will you really be able to improve your work?

    Okay, I think you get the point. You need answers for effective learning and improvement. And the only way to get them is through asking questions.

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    2. Asking the Right Questions Will Help You Be Successful

    Asking the right questions will also significantly improve your chances of being successful.

    Let’s take another example. Let’s say you want to build your own business. How do you start? That’s right—that’s the first good question to ask yourself. After that, a lot of your success depends on what you’re asking yourself and others.

    Now, let’s compare two kinds of questions. Let’s say you get stuck in your business building process. You could ask yourself: “why doesn’t this work for me?” Or you could ask yourself “how can I make this work for me?”

    Do you see the difference? The second question is an empowering one that will guide you to success. Of course, you need to be relentless and motivated to actually find a solution. But simply asking yourself this kind of question will significantly improve your chances for success.

    The first question, on the other hand, is a rather disempowering one. It puts you in a victim role where you feel sorry for yourself rather than in a position to look for a solution. And have you ever seen someone who’s victimizing themself be successful? I sure haven’t!

    3. Communication Is Key for Improvement

    Now, let’s quickly look at another important aspect regarding questions addressed to other people.

    Good communication is essential for improvement, good relationships, and success. And that can literally be applied to any kind of situation. Be it your job, your business, your marriage, or with your friends, good communication is the foundation for healthy relationships.

    Effective communication requires active listening more than anything else. But what does that mean?

    It means to ask questions and then actually listen to what the other person has to say. This will not only help you improve your relationship with other people—and, therefore, help you move forward in your professional and personal life—but it will also help you gain a lot of knowledge, which is undoubtedly the most effective kind of learning.

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    People love to talk about themselves. So, you only need to find people who have the answers to your questions and then listen in an active way. And boom, you probably just shortened your learning curve by 50%.

    What Is Effective Learning?

    Okay, I’d like to quickly touch on one more important thing before we talk about how you can ask the right questions. And that is, “what is effective learning?”

    Contrary to common belief, we don’t stop learning after college. In school, we’re basically forced to learn certain topics. But it’s actually after this period that the really interesting learning period starts. Once you’re out of school, you can completely choose what things you want to learn yourself, and this is where effective learning really starts

    The best example is laid out in Cal Newport’s book, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. In his book, he explains that the only way you can move forward in today’s economy is to learn hard things at a fast pace. He specifically talks about today’s economy because things are changing faster than ever. You can’t stay stuck with 10-year old technology or you’ll soon be left behind in our fast-paced world.

    So, this is basically what effective learning means—learning hard and relevant things at a fast pace.

    How to Ask the Right Questions for Effective Learning

    Alright, so now that you understand the importance of asking the right questions and what effective learning means, let’s put it all together.

    So, here’s how to ask the right questions for effective learning.

    1. Start by Asking Yourself

    As mentioned before, the most important aspect is to actually start by asking yourself the right kind of questions. Pay attention to always ask empowering questions—meaning, questions that are solution-oriented.

    These are often “how” questions. For instance:

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    • “How can I achieve my goal?”
    • “How can I make a better job?”
    • “How can I best use this resource?”

    Avoid disempowering, victimizing questions. It’s sometimes hard to even detect those because we’re often asking ourselves these kinds of questions without even noticing.

    This usually happens when we’re frustrated with a situation. These kinds of questions focus on why you’re in such a bad situation and absolutely ignore the possibility of a solution. These are often “why” questions. Here are a few examples:

    • “Why did this happen to me?”
    • “Why is everyone else successful except me?”
    • “Why can’t I be lucky for once?”

    2. Ask the Right People

    Once you’ve managed to ask yourself the right questions, it’s time to focus on what to ask other people. But it’s not only about what to ask. It’s also about whom to address it to.

    To promote effective learning, you need to ask the right people. These are people who have gone before you and who have achieved what you want to achieve. It doesn’t even need to be in person. Reading their books and wondering “what made them successful?” is a great way to start. If you can, totally opt in for asking those people in person, though. These can become your mentors or role models who will make effective learning significantly easier.

    To find the right people to ask, first determine your goal for this conversation. What do you want to learn? What do you want to achieve with that knowledge? Then, find people who have already achieved that.

    3. Ask Open-Ended Questions

    Once you have found the right people, it’s important to also phrase your questions the right way. That means asking open-ended questions.

    As mentioned before, people love talking about themselves and their achievements. And by asking open-ended questions, you allow them to share as much as possible. This is especially great to start a conversation as it will get you a lot of information right from the get-go. Later down the road, you can ask more specific questions to get the amount of detail you need.

    Great open-ended questions are: “how did you achieve (a milestone)?”; “what are the best tools to be successful?” “what helped you be so successful?”

    Make sure to enter your specific goal or their success in those questions. For instance, you could ask your boss, “what helped you get promoted after only working for the company for a year?”

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    4. Practice Active Listening

    Active listening is an insanely powerful skill. You can “extract” all of a person’s knowledge simply by listening and asking more open-ended questions that allow them to share even more of their experience and knowledge.

    Practice it with your friends or spouse. Set an intention of just listening for 10 minutes. During this time, only ask questions that allow them to talk about themselves. Don’t interrupt them and only ask deeper questions after they finished answering.

    After that, think about how much you just learned about the other person. Plus, you probably made the other person feel really good and flattered. This in turn will make it easier to get even more answers from them in the future.

    Once you feel comfortable, try this with one of your mentors. Believe me, they’ll love you for it, and you’ll get your answers much faster that way.

    5. Focus on the Solution

    One last point: always focus on the solution when asking any kind of question. This goes for asking yourself but also when asking other people.

    Your subconscious will automatically guide you towards what you’re focusing on.[1] If you’re focusing on the risks or on what could go wrong, guess where you’ll end up? Right there!

    If you focus on solutions and see struggles as opportunities to learn more, you’ll always end up finding solutions for any kind of problem or issue. So, asking the right questions is all about being solution-oriented and focusing on the opportunities rather than the risks.

    Conclusion

    Asking the right questions is not only essential for effective learning—aka learning hard things at a fast pace—but it’s also key to improving in any personal or professional area of your life.

    There are two important aspects of asking the right questions. The first is about what kind of questions you ask yourself. Make sure to keep them empowering and solution-oriented. This will help guide you to success instead of keeping you stuck with a problem.

    The second aspect is to ask the right kind of people to get answers that will help you achieve your goals. Make sure to find people who have gone before you. Then, ask them open-ended questions and practice active listening to learn as much as possible from them.

    More Tips on Asking Questions

    Featured photo credit: Product School via unsplash.com

    Reference

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