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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

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Published on January 14, 2020

15 Effortless Memorization Tricks To Remember Anything

15 Effortless Memorization Tricks To Remember Anything

The struggle is real!

With so much happening in life, it’s hard to remember the details. In particular, names, due dates, requirements and locations slip from the mind every so often. But the memorization tricks outlined in this article should ensure that you never forget stuff that matters.

I used to have a problem with remembering names and faces.

You see, I meet new people every day from around the globe and it’s just too many new names and faces for my mind to register.

But I’ll tell you this:

It’s certainly quite embarrassing to have coffee with somebody and not recognize them the next day.

The problem is that forgetting is such a passive action that you often have no control over it.

Let me explain:

When you forget something, it’s not like you’re actively trying to. It just… happens and that makes it hard to inhibit your forgetfulness.

I mean, how do you stop doing something that you’re not really doing?

So, I just accepted that this is how it is and I’m going to have to live with it.

But several embarrassing encounters later, I’ve consolidated a list of memorizing tips that worked like magic for me.

I’ve used them to overcome my problem of remembering people and their names which has helped me immensely in improving communication and collaboration within and outside of my company.

Now before we dive into the memorization tricks that I wanted to discuss with you, let’s first take a look at how and why we forget.

The Science of Forgetting

In 1885, Hermann Ebbinghaus put forth his theory that outlined the “Forgetting Curve”.[1] This curve shows how much information we retain after a certain amount of time has passed since initially memorizing it.

You might be a bit concerned about how valid this theory is, given that it was initially presented in the 19th century.

But in a 2015 analysis, scientists found that the Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve was completely accurate.[2]

Fascinatingly, the Forgetting Curve shows that just after a day of memorizing something, we remember about 30% of it.

Before we jump into the memorization tricks in this article, I’d first like to explain to you why you forget in the first place. Knowing the root cause of forgetfulness will help you apply the information that you gather.

When you initially learn something, your mind transfers it into the hypothetical short-term memory chamber.

Your brain doesn’t know which piece of information is important and which needs to be discarded. So, it waits for a signal that helps it recognize important pieces of information that it can then shift into the hypothetical long-term memory chamber.

One of the more obvious of such signals is repetition. As shown in the forgetting figure below, repetition can change the shape of the forgetting curve.

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    All the memorization tricks and tips in this article revolve around signaling the importance of memories to your mind so it can move that piece of information from the short-term memory chamber to the long-term one.

    15 Memorization Tricks That Work

    Enough of science; let’s get into the business end of this article. Here are 15 memorization tricks that work:

    1. Say it 3 Times

    This is one of the simplest learning methods that I’ve been using and it seems to yield some great results.

    Make a habit of saying something 3 times as soon as you hear it. This will help you retain that information longer in your brain. In my case, when someone would tell me their name, I’d say it thrice under my breath. This signaled to my brain that this piece of information is important and I’d like to remember it.

    2. Link it to an Established Long-Term Memory

    What if you already have something in your long-term memory that you can link your new piece of information to?

    Imagine this:

    There’s a piece of information that resides deep in your hypothetical long-term memory chamber. Once you claim a new memory, you stick it to the old one.

    What do you think will happen?

    Of course, the new memory will retain better because of the strong memory that you linked it to.

    For instance, people set their 4-digit pin codes for their birthdates (or their spouse’s) all the time. It’s easier to remember because they have an already established link in their mind that’s probably never going to break.

    3. Type Away

    Writing something down is a common memorizing trick that works for many.

    The problem?

    You almost never have a pen and paper close at hand when you need it.

    So here, I decided to go a bit unconventional and use technology to my advantage.

    I started typing notes on my phone that I’d revisit before sleeping.

    A lot of times, I wouldn’t even have to revisit my notes because the mere act of typing them would help me retain that memory.

    But if typing it out doesn’t help, rereading it at night surely will.

    4. Spaced Repetition

    As mentioned above, further research on the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve showed that it’s best to revise a piece of information after a certain amount of time as it helps your mind retain it better.

    Now, what a lot of people do is that they try to repeat or revise a memory as soon as they attain it.

    But research shows that it’s useless to adopt that strategy. The goal isn’t to avoid forgetting that memory; it’s to forget it so you can relearn and solidify its roots in your brain.

    The same research suggested 4 repetitions; around 20 mins, 50 mins, 9 hours and 5 days after memorizing something.[3]

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    But it might not be practical to revisit a memory in that fashion. So, as we recommend in our article on Spaced Repetition, just revise an important memory 24-36 hours after initially learning it and you should see 90% above retention rates.

    5. Grasp the Concept

    Back in college, rote learning never seemed to work for me.

    No matter how many times I’d repeat a phrase and try to learn it by heart, I’d have completely forgotten it by the next day.

    So I tried to memorize the concept, not the words.

    This worked great for me back then and still works well when I’m trying to understand the mechanics of a company or a business.

    6. Interleaved Practice

    If you mix it up, you’ll see better results in memorization.

    Most people, when they’re trying to memorize or learn something, keep working at it until it’s all done or perfect.

    It doesn’t make much sense if you leave a memorization task in the middle right? Wrong!

    Research shows that if you learn two different things at once, you’ll learn them better. This is called interleaved practice.

    Now that are 2 reasons why interleaved practice shows spectacular resuLts:

    Similar memories get mixed up in the brain

    Interleaved practice makes it harder to recall a memory. And the harder the practice session, the better your results!

    7. Use Storytelling

    Without a doubt, storytelling is one of the most powerful skills that one can master.

    And the reason is simple:

    Stories captivate us like nothing else.

    Look at all the forms of entertainment that we have nowadays and you’ll see storytelling in each one of them; movies, songs, music videos, video games, vlogs… the list goes on.

    The reason is simple:

    Our brain is obsessed with stories.

    So the next time you’re trying to memorize something, try creating a story in your head that would help you remember it.

    8. Record Your Audio

    Here’s another fantastic memorizing trick that puts technology to great use.

    When you’re trying to memorize something, just audio record yourself on the phone and listen to it on repeat.

    You don’t need to do this for long. In fact, about 15-20 minutes of listening to yourself should be more than enough.

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    This is especially useful for auditory learners.

    9. Create Parts

    What if I tell you to memorize this number in 20 seconds:

    583957304

    I’m sure that sounds like a daunting task.

    But what about:

    583-957-304

    This looks easier although both numbers are essentially the same.

    The only difference in both numbers is that the second one has two dashes. Now, the dashes themselves aren’t significant. What’s significant is the fact that the dashes break the number into 3 parts.

    When you break the number, it becomes easier to remember. Your brain can then focus on individual parts and consolidate them in the end.

    In fact, this memorization technique is pretty much a setup to trick your mind into thinking the task is easier than it actually is.

    So, the next time you’re learning something extensive, create parts out of it and focus on each part individually.

    10. Focus on Keywords

    I like to use this method in conjunction with “Grasping the Concept”.

    You see, there are just some things that require word-for-word learning.

    And if you’re not good at it, then learning keywords becomes your last option.

    It’s likely that you’ve used this technique if you buy the groceries. All you do is memorize keywords like “6 eggs” but never “buy half a dozen eggs” because the rest of all the words contribute nothing (or very little) to the message.

    11. Say it out Aloud

    Here’s another learning trick for auditory learners:

    Say your words out aloud.

    I’m a firm believer that the more senses you stimulate while learning, the better you’ll learn.

    This means that reading alone (using your visual sense only) is not nearly as effective as speaking your words while you read them because it stimulates your sense of hearing as well.

    Ideally, you’d want to use this technique with writing or typing.

    12. Retain While You Sleep

    Did you know that sleeping could help improve your memory?

    Well, researchers from Matthew P. Walker and Robert Stickgold sure think so. In their research, “Sleep, Memory and Plasticity”, they maintain that sleep has a major role in “memory consolidation” and “memory reconsolidation”.[4].

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    Another research published in Current Opinion in Neurology shows that,[5]

    “Sleep is important for optimal learning.”

    By that logic, memorizing just before you go to sleep is a nice way of strengthening that memory. While you sleep, your brain should work on that memory’s consolidation and reconsolidation.

    Also, it’s important to get a good amount of sleep in for improving memory in general.

    13. Challenge Yourself

    Most people think that memorizing is all about reading and speaking.

    And that’s partly why they aren’t particularly good at it.

    Most of the time, we’re trying to memorize something all day but when the right time comes, our memory fails to support us.

    A good way to eliminate that problem is to test yourself in the middle of the day.

    Challenge yourself in the middle of the day to recall what you’re trying to learn. It doesn’t necessarily need to be in a learning environment. In fact, you could try recalling while you’re in the elevator, having lunch or walking to your office.

    14. Mnemonics

    Mnemonics have been for ages to learn a list of words in order.

    And the only reason why they’ve stood the test of time is that they work.

    In this method, you list out the first letter of each word and then try creating a sentence/phrase out of them that can be memorized.

    A common example is the “Roy G. Biv” mnemonic that’s used to memorize the colors of the rainbow (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet).

    Although recent research on effective learning techniques ranked mnemonics as a low utility learning method, the only reason for that was that mnemonics don’t have a wide variety of applications in general learning.[6]

    However, they work like magic if you’re trying to learn a foreign language or increase vocabulary.

    15. Use a To-Do List App

    The last memorizing trick on our list is to use a To-Do List app.

    A lot of these apps come with the added functionality of displaying your notes on the home screen of your phone.

    A lot of others come with a sticky notification of that note that appears 24/7 on your phone.

    By typing what you want to memorize in that note, you can then read it again every time you use your phone.

    And if you’re anything like the common man, this memorization trick should give you the opportunity to review your memory multiple times in the day.

    If you tend to forget easily, start trying these memorizing tricks. They’ve changed my life and will change yours too!

    More to Boost Your Memory

    Featured photo credit: Sincerely Media via unsplash.com

    Reference

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