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Published on September 24, 2019

How to Learn Fast and Remember More: 5 Effective Techniques

How to Learn Fast and Remember More: 5 Effective Techniques

Have you noticed that the older you get, the harder it becomes to learn things quickly?

I’ve certainly experienced this. When I was in my teenage years, I could learn endless things in rapid succession. This including being able to read and absorb complex books on computing in just a few hours. But when I got older, I noticed my reading slowed down — as did my ability to remember and recall facts and figures.

When I first noticed this, I became a little alarmed. However, instead of letting it get me down, I put my mind to finding some answers to the problem!

As you’ll discover in this article, there are several simple techniques to help you learn faster and remember more. And once you adopt these techniques, you’ll develop a love for learning that will last a lifetime. This will also increase your overall well-being in life, as well as boosting your confidence.

For example, imagine learning a new skill (perhaps being able to speak, read and write a new language). This could dramatically improve your life. You might secure a new job that requires a bi-lingual speaker. You might decide to retire in a new country that speaks the language. And you might even meet a new partner who falls for your verbal charms!

One thing is certain: Once you begin to enjoy learning again, you’ll reignite your life. You’ll have more energy, more drive, and much more fun.

Ready to learn the secrets of learning?

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Then, join me as I reveal five tips for you to learn more and to learn faster:

1. Keep It Short

Set out to intentionally learn in short bursts of time. I recommend aiming for 30 minutes once a day, and then build up from there if necessary. This will prevent you from being overwhelmed by trying to take in too much new information.

For example, if you’d like to begin learning a musical instrument like the guitar or piano; don’t try to learn too much, too soon. This will likely be counterproductive, as you’ll not only tire your brain — but you’ll most likely tire your fingers too! Instead, spend half an hour a day on learning your instrument. This will allow you to make steady but sure progress.

The same applies to reading a business or self-improvement book. If you want to successfully digest the key information, then don’t try to read the whole book in one session. You’ll take in much more if you just read a chapter a day.

2. Go Old School

Have you noticed that most learning nowadays involves computers? While this can be a great way to learn, I’d also encourage you from time to time to write things down with pen and paper.

Writing down what you learn has double the impact, as you’re actually making yourself acknowledge the fact twice, rather than hearing it once and letting it slip away. And by writing it by hand, you’ll have more investment and care towards the words you write down. This will make what you’re learning more significant and memorable to you.

Think of it this way: Old school is the new school!

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Personally, I like to carry a notepad with me at all time. This enables me to write down ideas that I come across during the day. And it can be especially useful in meetings or presentations, where I can easily jot down key themes to work on later.

3. Take a Nap

Studies show that once you’ve crammed lots of new info into your brain, you can help better store it in your memory by taking a nap.[1] This is because taking a nap (as well as getting the recommended 7 to 8 hours sleep per night) helps keep your attention span and mental alertness at their peak.

Napping after studying can also help your subconscious mind process the stuff that your conscious mind has taken in.

So whether you’re trying to cram for an exam, prepare for an important work presentation, or you simply want to remember the tips in this article — make sure you take a nap when you need to. This will ensure that your brain and memory are both operating at their best.

If you’re still unconvinced by the power of napping, then consider this…

Researchers from Saarland University in Germany[2] found that a short daytime nap of around 45-60 minutes significantly boosted brain function. In fact, they found that learning and memory could be improved by up to five times. (Now that’s something for you to remember!)

4. Don’t Multitask

When learning something new, it’s vital that you put 100% of your focus on the task.

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For instance, trying to learn Spanish while cooking dinner and checking your emails may SEEM like you’re being efficient — but the truth is that you’ll retain way less by doing this than if you just dedicate a solid 30 minutes to studying Spanish.

Years of observing people working in offices has convinced me of the fallacy of multitasking. Sure, it looks like multitaskers are super-busy and productive. But in reality, they’re spending their time and energy in a very unproductive manner. It’s a bit like trying to run, dance and cycle all at the same time — you won’t get anywhere, and you’ll look ridiculous too!

If you’re a multitasker, then please check out my article: Can’t Focus? Why You’ve Been Doing It Wrong and How to Focus Better

5. Drink More Water

When I was at college, I hardly ever drank water. I was much more interested in drinking Coca-Cola. Not only did these taste great, but I mistakenly believed that their high-sugar content would help keep my energy levels topped up. In reality, these drinks cause a dangerous sea-saw in energy and blood sugar levels.[3]

I became interested in drinking water, when not only my energy started to fade — but my overall health too. It was at this time that it became obvious to me that I was chronically dehydrated through consuming almost exclusively soft drinks.

As soon as I began drinking 2 to 3 litres of mineral water a day, I noticed a HUGE difference. I felt much more lively. My appetite improved. And… I found that my brain worked better than before. I could learn things easier and quicker than previously, and I also discovered that my ability to recall info was boosted too.

But you don’t need to just take my word for the benefits of drinking water. According to a recent scientific study, drinking adequate amounts of water during exams was shown to improve students’ grades.[4]

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Bottom Line

So there you have it: Five tips for boosting your ability to learn quicker and faster than ever.

If you want to revitalize your learning ability, then start putting these five tips into action immediately. Sure, it requires a bit of investment on your part — but the results will definitely be worth it.

Just imagine…

Once you realize that you can remember and recall things easily again, your confidence will soar, and you’ll almost certainly get the ‘learning bug’!

With your new found drive, motivation and superpower memory, you’ll be able to tackle things you may have only dreamed of doing before. For example, you could go back to college to study coding or philosophy. You could create a business plan for that company you’ve also thought of starting. And you could even start crafting the first chapter of that book you’ve always wanted to write.

Being able to process and remember information will set you apart from others. You’ll be known as a quick-thinker who always has the necessary facts at their fingertips. What’s more, you’ll start to appear younger than your age — as your quick and agile mind will be more like that of someone 10 years younger than your real age.

It’s no exaggeration to say that being able to learn faster and remember more will transform your life for the better.

The only question that remains is… what are you going to learn next?

More About Learning

Featured photo credit: João Silas via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How to Learn Quickly And Master Any Skill You Want

How to Learn Quickly And Master Any Skill You Want

Have you ever heard of the idiom ‘practice makes perfect’? I’m pretty sure someone would have said that to you at least once in your life! It’s a common saying, often used to encourage someone when they’re learning or doing something that is new to them.

They may need many tries before succeeding and getting it right. It’s like learning to ride a bicycle, learning how to drive, taking up a second language, or cooking for the first time. It’s rare for anyone to ace it on their first try.

Whenever you want to start learning something new, I’m sure you’re always hoping to get good at it quickly. But the reality is, that sometimes it does take days, months or even years before you can confidently master a skill.

That’s simply how learning works. You try, you gain experience, you learn from it, and you try again. And each time, you’re improving and making progress. Every time you repeat this learning process, you’re going through something called a Feedback Loop. You’ll have to go through multiple feedback loops before confidently executing the skill.

What separates a fast learner from a slower learner is not some innate, natural talent. Instead, it’s because the fast learner understands how they learn, and has a systematic way to apply it all the time to learn a variety of things. They know how to effectively use their Feedback Loop to speed up the learning process.

So the good news for you, is that if you’re currently wanting to learn a new skill as quickly as possible, then you just need to learn how to create an effective Feedback Loop.

What is a Feedback Loop?

When we talk about feedback, it simple means getting information about how well you’re performing each time you make an attempt at practicing or applying a skill. Feedback is what tells you what went wrong, or what went right.

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A Feedback Loop is made up of 3 stages:

  1. Practice / Apply – This is the stage where you put what you want to learn into action.
  2. Measure – This is the stage where you’re acquiring information about your performance. This is also the stage that is most ignored… or done ineffectively.
  3. Learn – This is the stage where you analyze how well you performed, and make adjustments to improve and practice/apply again.

It’s important to recognize these 3 stages and put them into place each time you practice a new skill.

Many people only have Stage 1 completed, and a very unclear or fuzzy process for Stage 2, which leads to poor results in Stage 3.

A good, smooth cycle will help you continuously make improvements with each loop, creating steady progress and upgrading your understanding of the skill.

How to Have an Effective Feedback Loop

To make sure your Feedback Loop is effective, you will have to look at 3 key factors: Consistency, Speed, and Accuracy.

1. Be Consistent

Being consistent means having a regular way to get the same quality of feedback. You need to be able to compare every practice or learning experience in order to measure, learn and make adjustments. If your feedback is not consistent, then you’re going to have a hard time knowing what went wrong or what went right.

For example, say you’re learning to play the guitar. If you play a different song every time you practice, you’re going to get very inconsistent feedback. Because the difficulty, rhythm, and pace of every song is different, you won’t have a reliable way to compare how well you played the current song versus the last. So, the best way to learn would be to play the same song over and over again until you get to a certain proficiency.

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Seems obvious in this case, but it’s just an example. A lot of times learning is hard because we don’t focus on keeping with a consistent environment or actions.

2. Be Quick

Let’s move on to the second factor: speed. Having speedy or fast feedback is important because the longer it takes to get feedback, the longer it will take to improve on the skill. That’s why some people spend a tremendous amount of time practicing, but make very slow progress.

On the other hand, the best forms of feedback are almost instantaneous. The shorter the time it takes for one Feedback Loop to complete, the better. This is because you’ll have more attempts, which means more improvements within the same timespan.

So, the key to getting fast feedback is to take the skill or knowledge and break it down. Try to breakdown the skill into different components. They could be broken down into steps, subskills or processes, or even by difficulty.

For example, if the skill you want to learn involves a sequence (ie: there is a step by step process), you can break your learning down by each step. Create a Feedback Loop for each step individually instead of the whole process. Isolate the processes into different parts that you can focus and work on individually.

Let’s say you’re learning to cook. You can break this skill into steps, such as finding fresh and suitable ingredients, preparing and handling the ingredients, preparing condiments and sauces, serving and plating, etc.

Or let’s say you’d like to learn how to play soccer. You can identify the sub-skills that make up the larger learning techniques to playing soccer, and create feedback loops for each of them individually. So you could start by learning how to dribble the ball, followed by passing, and then shooting.

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The third and final factor to an effective Feedback Loop, is Accuracy. This means having feedback that actually reflects your performance accurately. Since you’re relying on feedback to tell you what and where to improve on the next time, this is very important. This is why measuring feedback is a key skill to have for an effective Feedback Loop.

3. Be Accurate

Obtaining accuracy in feedback becomes a common weak point for many learners, because it’s not always easy to define what “accuracy” means.

To get accurate feedback, we have to have a way of measuring it. The reason why we sometimes get poor feedback is because we’re trying to measure our progress without quantifying our performance. Or, we’re using the wrong metrics to quantify the feedback. Worse yet, it might just be that you were never measuring or recording your performance at all! Can you recall yourself being in a similar situation?

In order to find areas for improvement, you have to be able to compare your current performance with your previous performance. This is so that you have a baseline, or something to measure up against, to look for room for improvements.

Quantifying is a way to accurately measure your performance. Quantifying something means attaching a number to it. This helps to give objectivity and consistency when comparing two things. Quantifying feedback can give you constructive information that will help you improve during each cycle of the feedback loop.

Let’s say you’re practicing how to dribble a basketball. The first time you dribble, your coach tells you you’re doing a good job. The second time round, you get better and your coach affirms you by saying you’ve done a great job! Sure, your dribbling skill has improved–you know it, your coach knows it, but by how much? And how can you further improve your dribbling skills? A good job versus a great job doesn’t indicate how well you’ve performed, and how much better you can perform.

But, now in the second scenario, if you manage to dribble the basketball up and down the court 4 times continuously without letting the ball slip, your coach tells you you’ve done a good job. In the second round, your coach now tells you to dribble the basketball up and down the court 8 times continuously without letting the ball slip. You managed to do that and your coach tells you great job! You can now quantify your improvement by the number of times you were able to dribble the basketball across the court.

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With a quantity attached to your performance, you’re now able to push yourself further by learning to dribble 16 times or more across the basketball court. You can even add in new obstacles like having to dribble across the court with an opponent trying to snatch your basketball. If you’re successful, you can try dribbling across the court with 2 opponents snatching your basketball, so on and so forth. You’re now able to easily quantify your improvement.

Continuously Improve Your Feedback Loop!

So now that you’re familiar with the Feedback Loop, are you ready to put it into practice? What’s a new skill that you’d like to start on?

Try implementing every stage of the Feedback Loop when learning this new skill and see for yourself, whether your learning improves at a quicker rate.

It is essential to continuously improve your Feedback Loop in order to keep up your momentum, and avoid running into the law of diminishing returns. Improving your Feedback Loop means knowing what to measure next, and what questions to ask, to find out.

In fact, the technique you’ve learned from this article is only part of our Learning Course. If you’d like to discover more gems that will help you speed up your learning and push yourself towards the goals that you’ve been striving for, check out our Learn Anything Fast Course.

Or you can find out more learning tips in these articles:

Featured photo credit: Adeolu Eletu via unsplash.com

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