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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

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Published on January 19, 2021

What Is Learning by Doing And Why Is It Effective?

What Is Learning by Doing And Why Is It Effective?

The list of teaching techniques is ever-expanding as there are multiple ways for us to gain knowledge. As a result, there are multiple techniques out there that leverage those particular skills. One such technique I want to share with you is learning by doing.

This technique has been around for a long time, and it’s a surprisingly effective one thanks to the various perks that come with it. Also called experiential learning, I’ll be sharing with you my knowledge on the subject, what it is deep down, and why it’s such an effective learning tool.

What Is Learning by Doing?

Learning by doing is the simple idea that we are capable of learning more about something when we perform the action.

For example, say you’re looking to play a musical instrument and were wondering how all of them sound and mix. In most other techniques, you’d be playing the instrument all by yourself in a studio. Learning by doing instead gives you a basic understanding of how to play the instrument and puts you up on a stage to play an improvised piece with other musicians.

Another way to think about this is by taking a more active approach to something as opposed to you passively learning about it. The argument is that active engagement provides deeper learning and that it’s okay if you make mistakes as you learn from those as well. This mentality brought forth a new name for this technique: experiential learning.

What Are Its Benefits?

Experimental learning has been around for eons now. It was Aristotle who wrote that “for the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”

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Over the years, that way of thinking changed and developed and for a time was lost once computers were integrated into schools. It’s only been in recent years where schools have adopted this technique again. It’s clear why teachers are encouraging this as it offers five big benefits.

1. It’s More Engaging and More Memorable

The first benefit is that it’s more engaging and memorable. Since this requires action on your part, you’re not going to be able to weaken your performance. This is big since, traditionally, you’d learn from lectures, books, or articles, and learners could easily read—or not read—the text and walk away with no knowledge at all from it.

When you are forced into a situation where you have to do what you need to learn, it’s easier to remember those things. Every action provides personalized learning experiences, and it’s where motivation is built. That motivation connects to what is learned and felt. It teaches that learning is relevant and meaningful.

Beyond that, this experience allows the opportunity for learners to go through the learning cycle that involves extended effort, mistakes, and reflection, followed by refinement of strategies.

2. It Is More Personal

Stemming from the reason mentioned above, learning by doing offers a personal experience. Referring back to the cycle of effort, mistakes, reflection, and refinement, this cycle is only possible through personal emotions—the motivation and realization of knowledge of a particular topic tying into your values and ideals.

This connection is powerful and thus, offers a richer experience than reading from a book or articles such as this one. That personal connection is more important as it encourages exploration and curiosity from learners.

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If you’ve always wanted to bake a cake or cook a unique dish, you could read up on it or watch a video. Or you could get the ingredients and start going through it all yourself. Even if you make mistakes now, you have a better grasp of what to do for the next time you try it out. You’re also more invested in that since that’s food that you made with the intention of you having it.

3. It Is Community-Connected

Learning by doing involves the world at large rather than sitting alone in your room or a library stuck in a book. Since the whole city is your classroom technically, you’re able to leverage all kinds of things. You’re able to gather local assets and partners and connect local issues to larger global themes.

This leans more into the personal aspect that this technique encourages. You are part of a community, and this form of learning allows you to interact more and make a connection with it—not necessarily with the residents but certainly the environment around it.

4. It’s More Integrated Into People’s Lives

This form of learning is deeply integrated into our lives as well. Deep learning occurs best when learners can apply what they’ve learned in a classroom setting to answer questions around them that they care about.

Even though there is a lot of information out there, people are still always asking “what’s in it for me?” Even when it comes to learning, people will be more interested if they know that what they are learning is vital to their very way of life in some fashion. It’s forgettable if they’re unable to tie knowledge in with personal aspects of their lives. Thus, experiential learning makes the application of knowledge simpler.

5. It Builds Success Skills

The final benefit of learning by doing is that it builds up your skills for success. Learning by doing encourages you to step out of your comfort zone, discover something new, and try things out for the first time. You’re bound to make a mistake or two, but this technique doesn’t shame you for it.

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As a result, learning by doing can build your initiative for new things as well as persistence towards growth and development in a field. This could also lead to team management and collaboration skill growth. These are all vital things in personal growth as we move towards the future.

How to Get Started

While all these perks are helpful for you, how are you going to start? Well, there are several different approaches that you can take with this. Here are some of them that come to mind.

1. Low-Stakes Quizzes

In classroom settings, one way to introduce this technique is to have many low-stakes quizzes. These quizzes aren’t based on assessing one’s performance. Instead, these quizzes are designed to have learners engage with the content and to generate the learned information themselves.

Research shows that this method is an effective learning technique.[1] It allows students to improve their understanding and recall and promotes the “transfer” of knowledge to other settings.

2. Type of Mental Doing

Another approach is one that Psychologist Rich Mayer put together. According to him, learning is a generative activity.[2] His knowledge and the research done in his lab at Santa Barbara have repeatedly shown that we gain expertise by doing an action, but the action is based on what we already know.

For example, say you want to learn more about the Soviet dictator Stalin. All you need to do is link what you do know—that Stalin was a dictator—and link it to what you want to learn and retain. Stalin grew up in Georgia, killed millions of people, centralized power in Russia, and assisted in the victory of World War 2. This technique even applies to the most simple of memory tasks as our brain learns and relearns.

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3. Other Mental Activities

The final method I’ll share with you is taking the literal approach—getting out there and getting your hands dirty so to speak. But how you go about that is up to you. You could try reading an article and then going out and applying it immediately—like you could with this article. Or maybe you could find further engagement through puzzles or making a game out of the activity that you’re doing.

For example, if you wanted to learn about animal behavior patterns, you can read about them, go out to watch animals, and see if they perform the specific behaviors that you read about.

Final Thoughts

Learning by doing encourages active engagement with available materials and forces you to work harder to remember the material. It’s an effective technique because it helps ingrain knowledge into your memory. After all, you have a deeper personal connection to that knowledge, and you’ll be more motivated to use it in the future.

With that in mind, I encourage you to take what you’ve learned from reading this article and apply that in the real world. It’s only going to benefit you as you grow.

Featured photo credit: Van Tay Media via unsplash.com

Reference

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