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Last Updated on January 29, 2021

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 fast? When you’re a teenager, it seems you can learn endless amounts of information in rapid succession. However, as you age, reading slows down, as well as your ability to remember and recall facts and figures.

As you’ll discover in this article, there are several simple techniques to help you learn how to learn fast and remember more. 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 boost 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.

Join me as I reveal five tips for you to learn more in a shorter amount of time.

1. Keep It Short

Set out to intentionally learn in short bursts with various learning strategies when you want to know how to learn fast. I recommend aiming for 30 minutes once a day, and then building up from there if necessary. This will prevent you from being overwhelmed by trying to take in too much new information, which will get in the way of effective learning.

Some studies, though, have suggested that the ideal study session consists of 50 minutes of studying followed by a ten-minute break[1]. However, every student is different, and you’ll have to experiment to find what kind of learning sessions work for you.

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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, speed up your learning by spending half an hour a day on learning your instrument. This will allow you to make slow but steady 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, research shows that it helps to write notes by hand with a pen and paper if you’re interested in discovering how to learn fast and remember more.

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. Also, by writing it by hand, you’ll have more investment and care towards the words you write down as you’ll be summarizing what you hear into key points that will mean something to you later. This will make what you’re learning more significant and memorable.[2]

Personally, I like to carry a notepad with me at all times. This enables me to write down ideas that I come across during the day. 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.[3] 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.

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Napping after studying can also help your subconscious mind process the information 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.[4]

How Long to Nap

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

    Researchers from Saarland University in Germany[5] 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 and retaining something new, it’s vital that you pay attention and put 100% of your focus on the task. If you want to know how to learn fast, one of the answers is to avoid multitasking.

    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.

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    Years of observing people working in offices has convinced me of the fallacy of multitasking. Sure, it looks like multitaskers are incredibly busy and productive. However, 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!

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

    5. Drink More Water

    When I was in college, I hardly ever drank water, as 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 see-saw in energy and blood sugar levels.[6]

    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 liters 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, and I also discovered that my ability to recall info was boosted.

    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.[7]

    The Bottom Line

    If you want to revitalize your learning ability and discover how to learn fast, 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.

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    Once you realize that you can remember and recall things easily again, your confidence will soar, and you’ll almost certainly catch the “learning bug.”

    With your newfound 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. You could even start crafting the first chapter of that book you’ve always wanted to write as you speed up the learning process.

    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 fast 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: Adam Satria via unsplash.com

    Reference

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    Leon Ho

    Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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    Published on April 15, 2021

    9 Steps to Make Self-Regulated Learning More Effective

    9 Steps to Make Self-Regulated Learning More Effective

    You have probably heard of the saying, “Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he eats for a lifetime.”

    That old cliché gets thrown around quite a bit in educational circles, but what really goes into inspiring people to become independent, lifelong learners? Read on to learn more about self-regulated learning and how to make it more effective.

    Self-Regulated Learning

    One theory about teaching people how to learn is through self-regulated learning. In the broadest sense, it’s the idea that individuals should set their own learning goals and work independently and with a sense of agency and autonomy to achieve those goals. It’s the opposite of a teacher handing out a worksheet and students completing it just because the teacher told them to.

    Self-regulated learning is constructive and self-directed.[1] Instead of the worksheet example, self-regulated learning involves the students setting their own learning goals, deciding how to best achieve those goals, and then systematically and strategically working toward them. Teaching strategies like the Workshop Model and Portfolios are more aligned with self-regulated learning than a one-size-fits-all worksheet or lecture.

    Workshop Model

    The workshop model consists of three parts. Class begins with a mini-lesson, then students spend time working independently while the teacher circulates conferencing with students. Finally, the class ends with some kind of summary derived from what students learned through their independent work.

    Heavy hitters in the workshop model are Lucy Calkins and Nancie Atwell.[2][3] Their work has been instrumental in spreading best practices so that teachers know how to create truly student-led learning experiences.[4]

    Portfolios

    Another example of an instruction that’s moving toward self-regulated learning is student portfolios. Students set learning goals and periodically reflect on whether or not they’re achieving those goals. They keep all their reflections and student work in folders and have periodic conferences with their teacher on how they’re pressing toward their goals.[5]

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    The problem though is that the workshop model and portfolios require a different mindset and skillset from teachers. That’s where the theory of self-regulated learning comes in.

    3 Elements of Self-Regulated Learning

    One approach to self-regulated learning is to break it down into three components: regulation of processing modes, regulation of the learning process, and regulation of self. Dividing self-regulated learning in this way helps teachers know how to best help students work toward their individual goals, and it also gives us a glimpse into how we all can become more self-regulated learners.

    1. Regulation of Processing Modes

    The first step in self-regulated learning is to give learners a choice in how and why they’re learning in the first place.

    In our worksheet example, students are completing the task because the teacher said so, but when we reset why we’re learning in the first place, we’re starting to create a foundation for self-regulated learning.

    One educational researcher, Noel Entwistle makes a distinction between three different reasons for learning, and his work makes what we’re all working toward a lot clearer. Students can try to reproduce or memorize information, they can try to get good grades, or they can seek personal understanding or meaning.[6]

    The goal of self-regulated learning is to encourage students to move away from the first two learning orientations (following orders and trying to get good grades) and move toward the third, learning for some kind of intrinsic gain—learning to learn.

    2. Regulation of Learning Process

    The next level of self-regulated learning is when students are in charge of their own learning process. This is also known as metacognition. Studies have shown that when teachers do most of the heavy lifting—deciding what’s working and not working for each student—there’s a reduction in students’ metacognitive skills.[7]

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    When I was teaching middle and high school, we had a saying that if we left the building at the end of the school day more tired than the students, we hadn’t done our job. What that means is that teachers have to find a way to get students to do the heavy lifting of metacognition—thinking about thinking. And students need to accept the challenge and become curious about what’s working and not working about their individualized and (at least, partially) self-generated learning plans.

    Boosting metacognition might include learning about how the brain works, what metacognition is all about, and all the different learning styles. Becoming curious about your individual strengths and learning preferences is crucial in beefing up your metacognitive skills.

    3. Regulation of Self

    Finally, there’s goal setting. If students are going to become truly self-regulated learners, they have to start setting their own goals and then reflecting on their progress toward those goals.

    How to Make Self-Regulated Learning More Effective

    Now that you’ve learned the important elements of self-regulated learning, here are 9 ways you can make it more effective for you.

    1. Change Your Mindset About Learning

    The first way to become a self-regulated learner is to change your mindset about why you’re learning in the first place. Instead of doing your schoolwork because the teacher says so or because you want the highest GPA, try to move toward learning to satisfy your curiosity. Learn because you want to learn.

    Sometimes, this will be easy, like when you’re learning something on your own that you’ve self-selected. Other times, it’s tougher, like when you have a teacher-selected assignment due.

    Before mindlessly completing your assignment, try to find “your in.” Find what’s fascinating about the topic and cling to that as you complete it. Sure, you need to complete it to graduate, but by finding the morsel that’s interesting to you, you’ll be able to start experiencing a more self-regulated kind of learning.

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    2. Explore Different Learning Styles

    There are lots of different ways to learn: auditory, visual, spatial, and kinesthetic. Learn what all those styles mean and which ones feel especially effective for you.

    3. Learn How Learning Works

    Another great way to become a more self-regulated learner is to learn how learning works. Read up on cognitive science and psychology to figure out how we form memories, how we retain information, and how our emotions affect our learning. You have to understand the tools you’ve been given before you can wield those tools most optimally.

    4. Get Introspective

    Now it’s time to get introspective. Do a learning inventory and reflect on when you’ve been most and least successful in your learning.

    What’s your best subject? Why? When did you lose interest in a subject? Why? Ask yourself tough questions about how you learn, so you can move forward more strategically.

    5. Find Someone to Tell You Like It Is

    It’s also helpful to find someone who can be honest about your learning strengths and weaknesses. Find someone you trust who will be honest about your learning progress. If you lack self-awareness about your learning style and abilities, it’s difficult to be a self-regulated learner, so work with someone else to start becoming more self-aware.

    6. Set Some SMART Goals

    Now it’s time to set some learning goals. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. They’re a great way to become a self-regulated learner.[8]

    Instead of just saying, “I want to get better at Spanish,” you might set a SMART goal by saying “I want to memorize 100 new Spanish vocabulary words by next week.” Next week, you can test yourself and measure whether or not you’ve achieved your goal.

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    It’s difficult to see how we’re progressing and learning when our goal is vague. Setting SMART goals gives you a clear barometer for your learning.

    7. Reflect on Your Progress

    Goals don’t mean much unless you measure your progress every now and then. Take time to determine whether or not you’ve achieved your SMART learning goals and why or why not you did. Self-reflection is a great way to boost self-awareness, which is a great way to become a self-regulated learner.

    8. Find Your Accountability Buddies

    Armed with your goals and deadlines, it’s time to find some trustworthy people to help keep you accountable. Now, your learning progress is your responsibility when you’re a self-regulated learner, but it doesn’t hurt to have some friends who know what your goals are. You can turn to this trustworthy group to discuss your learning progress and keep you motivated.

    9. Say It Loud and Proud

    There’s a phenomenon where we’re more likely to attain our goals when we’ve made them public.[9] Announcing our goals helps hold our feet to the fire. So, figure out a way to make your learning goals known. This might mean telling your accountability buddies, your teacher, or maybe even a social media group.

    Just know that you’re more likely to succeed when you’re not the only one who knows what your goals are.

    Final Thoughts

    Self-regulated learning is learning for learning’s sake. So, change your entire attitude about why you’re learning in the first place. Choose what you want to know more about or start with what interests you most when assigned a topic or project.

    Then, set SMART goals and periodically reflect on your progress. Self-awareness is a skill that can be practiced and improved. Make learning your job and your responsibility, and you’ll be well on your way toward becoming a self-regulated learner.

    You’ll never need to blame your learning struggles on someone or something else. Instead, you’ll have the self-awareness and abilities to be able to take your learning into your own hands and find a way forward no matter your current situation and limitations.

    Featured photo credit: Josefa nDiaz via unsplash.com

    Reference

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