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Last Updated on October 30, 2020

Hack Your Learning With These 9 Simple Study Habits

Hack Your Learning With These 9 Simple Study Habits

If you want to improve your learning and retentive capacity, good study habits are key, and they’re not difficult to pick up.

It is no doubt you face a lot of issues in your daily lives, and these things compete for your attention. This makes it difficult for you to focus during your learning or study sessions.

These issues will never go away completely, so you will need to be proactive in improving study habits that can help you hack your learning.

Find out why study habits are important and the habits you need to cultivate to enhance your knowledge.

Why Are Study Habits Important?

Impact Your Motivation

Study smarter says the adage, not harder. By building good and simple study habits and learning techniques, you will keep yourself supercharged. This will assist you in attaining your goals efficiently and quickly, which will help you maintain high levels of motivation.

You can check out the video below to help you learn how to train your brain to crave learning:

Position You for Success

Cultivating simple study skills is not only relevant to life in university; these skills will position you for success in life overall. Every leader out there from Bill Gates to Elon Musk is a die-hard reader and learner. If you desire success in life, be studious.

Increase Your Self-Esteem

Good study habits impact your competence, confidence, and self-esteem. When you lose your self-esteem, you can lose the motivation required to learn.

Study habits help in safeguarding the most crucial ingredient to your success. It can also reduce the anxiety you usually have about deadlines.

Save You Time

As soon as you become proficient in your studying skills, you will cut down on the hours you spend on studying. This will give you more time to focus on other things that are crucial in your life.

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Enhance Your Learning

Cultivating practical study skills will improve your retention and your ability to learn. It will also make learning more exciting and rewarding.

With these benefits, you may then ask which study habits are the most essential.

9 Study Habits to Hack Your Learning

You may already have a good grasp on some of these and be weaker in others. Focus on developing any of these study techniques to improve your ability to learn.

1. Review Often

Design a study plan to review your notes and other class materials. This will help you to maximize every study session. It will also reduce the pressure of cramming before any significant examination or job interview.

Reviewing is also a means of enabling your brain to store facts and new information in your long-term memory. If you cram often, you tend to forget what you have learned as the information will be stored in the short-term memory.

You can look at the graph below to get an idea of how reviewing helps you[1]. The more often you review, the less information you’ll forget over time.

Ebbinghaus' forgetting curve and review cycle. 

     

    2. Comprehend

    Some learners try to memorize all the information while studying without trying to comprehend it. They will find it difficult to cope when they are faced with structured questions during examinations or interviews where the application of knowledge is needed.

    If you study to comprehend, you will be in a better position to attempt any question on various topics presented to you. It becomes easier to explain a hard concept when you study to understand the concept. You’ll also be in a better position to learn how to debate, teach, or analyze.

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    3. Employ Different Study Materials

    Do not depend on your book or all those good notes you take. Make use of different materials to aid your learning.

    If you’re not sure of your learning style, now is a good time to figure it out. If you’re a visual learner, making flash cards will likely be helpful. If you’re an auditory learner, try listening to additional podcasts or lectures on the topic. This is all about knowing your strengths and how your brain likes to learn.

    You can check out a learning style guide here to help you figure out which kind of learning will be best for you.

    4. Utilize Flashcards

    Employing flashcards can enhance memorization. It will assist you in recalling vital concepts and key terminology as it utilizes something called “active recall,” which refers to attempting to remember the concept from scratch rather than simply staring at the passage in a textbook[2].

     

    Flashcards will help you condense voluminous amount of notes. You can also form the study habit of drawing diagrams to recall important information and details about the topic.

    5. Take Breaks

    Breaks are very crucial in between study sessions. It helps you to store and retain information in your long-term memory.

    Prolonged studying can make you feel tired and put pressure on you. You cannot learn effectively when you are under pressure.

    Overloading your brain can cause congestion. Taking breaks will provide your brain the required time needed to refresh before absorbing new information.

    Research suggests that studying for one hour and then taking a 15-20 minute break is ideal[3].

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    6. Teach Others

    Several studies have found out that you learn better when you teach others a concept you have studied.[4]

    You cannot teach what you don’t know. Teaching other people positions you to learn as you have no option but to regularly recall learned information. This reinforces the information as you repeat while teaching others.

    At some point, your “students” will ask questions, which you will need to analyze before providing answers. In this way, teaching enables you to gain a better understanding of the topic.

    7. Evaluate Yourself

    Evaluation is essential to determine if you understand what you are studying. It will enable you to gauge which aspect you need to work more on.

    Evaluating yourself enables you to gain an in-depth knowledge of the subject matter. You can leverage online tests or quiz.

    Most books have evaluation sections or questions to answer. These are designed to test your knowledge and manage your study time.

    8. Link Your Previous Knowledge to What You Are Learning

    You can link your study notes to concepts you have learned previously. This helps you to recall things accurately.

    Utilizing analogy can enable you to learn the content faster. You can also make use of acronyms to recall concepts, which is known as a mnemonic[5].

    For instance, the BODMAS acronym is utilized to solve difficult mathematical problems. Any mathematics student understands that subtraction comes last while solving a mathematical problem, thanks to the BODMAS acronym.

    9. Take Good Care of Yourself

    This is one of the key study habits that most learners don’t manage properly. Getting a good night’s sleep and eating healthy both affect your ability to assimilate information. Learners who neglect proper diet and quality sleep will find it hard to retain information fast.

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    You should drink at least eight glasses of water, have eight hours of sleep, and a eat balanced diet daily. Foods such as berries, fish, groundnuts, eggs, and broccoli have been found out to boost brainpower.

    How to Learn Study Habits

    How can you learn these study habits in order to learn more effectively?

    Focus on the Big Picture

    How many topics do you want to cover? What amount of time do you have to cover them? What’s the purpose, target, or objective of studying the topics? How will learning this impact your career and personal development?

    Set Priorities

    Several topics will likely clamor for your attention. It’s important to prioritize them. Perhaps you work better by starting with the most complex topics, or you prefer to get your feet wet with an easier piece of information. Choose what works best for you.

    Plan

    Design a daily study schedule of what you want to study and when. A learning or study calendar is one of the essential tools to organize your learning activities.

    Allocate a Considerable Amount of Time

    It does not matter what purpose you have for studying; cramming is the least effective means of retaining information in your long-term memory. You need considerable time to study in advance to achieve your learning objectives, especially if it’s a topic you’re struggling to understand.

    Establish a Suitable Study Area

    Discover a spot where you can quickly spread out your materials, notepad, books, and your computer. The place should be well-lit, cozy, and devoid of distraction. It could be inside a public library or a private study area in your house.

    The Bottom Line

    Everyone learns differently, and each brain picks up information in different ways. However you learn, the study habits mentioned in this article will help you remember important information to become more productive while studying. Pick which ones you think will work best for you and get started.

    More to Help You Learn Faster

    Featured photo credit: Windows via unsplash.com

    Reference

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    Leon Ho

    Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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    Published on March 1, 2021

    What Is Double Loop Learning And How Is It Valuable?

    What Is Double Loop Learning And How Is It Valuable?

    As someone on the Millennial/Generation X cusp, one of my first memories of a news story was the devastating crash of the Challenger space shuttle. I couldn’t process the severity or the specifics of the event at the time, but looking back, the Challenger explosion represents a heartbreaking example of what can happen when systems fail.

    A part of the shuttle known as the O-ring was faulty. People from NASA knew about it well before the disaster, but NASA employees either ignored the problem—writing it off as not that bad—or were ignored when they tried to alert higher-ups about the issue.[1] This is a tragic example of single-loop learning where organizations focus on what they’re doing without reflecting on how or why they’re doing it, and it’s a recipe for disaster.

    Single and Double-Loop Learning

    Chris Argyris describes the difference between single and double-loop learning with a metaphor. A thermostat that turns on and off when it senses a pre-set temperature is akin to single-loop learning. The thermostat being able to reflect on whether or not it should be set to that temperature in the first place would be more like double-loop learning.[2]

    Imagine the difference if NASA would have encouraged and addressed employees’ questions about how they were doing, what they were doing, and whether or not they should be doing it at all—you’ll start to see how an extra layer of questioning and critical thought can help organizations thrive.

    Single Loop Learning

    Single-loop learning is when planning leads to action, which leads to reflection on those actions and then back to planning, action, and more reflection. Now, you might think that because reflection is involved, single-loop learning would be an effective organizational model. However, because there isn’t room for critical questions that ask why actions are being taken, problems begin to bubble up.

    The Double Bind

    When organizations are operating in single-loop learning, they get stuck in what Argyris calls the Double Bind. Because there’s no value placed on questioning why the team is doing something, team members are either punished for speaking up or punished for not speaking up if something goes wrong down the line.

    Primary Inhibiting Loop

    When an organization is stuck in single-loop learning, the double bind leads to what Argyris calls the primary inhibiting loop. Real learning and growth are inhibited because team members withhold information from each other. This withholding leads to distrust and is difficult to remedy because even if employees attempt to become more forthcoming, lack of trust sours interactions.

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    Secondary Inhibiting Loop

    Because information is being withheld, team members play unconscious games (not the fun kind) to protect each other’s feelings. For example, I might try to distract my colleagues from worrying about a problem in our plan by shifting the focus to another project we’re working on that’s going better.

    When you’re stuck in single-loop learning, the organization does whatever it can to continue taking action after action instead of stopping to truly reassess the bigger picture. This leads team members to hide information from each other, which causes distrust and behaviors that try to mask flaws in the organization’s structures and systems.

    Double Loop Learning in Organizations

    A common misconception is that the opposite of single-loop learning involves focusing primarily on people’s feelings and allowing employees to manage themselves. However, the solution for single-loop learning is not about doing the opposite. It’s about adding an extra later of critical analysis—double-loop learning.

    With double-loop learning, questioning why the organization is doing what it’s doing is an organizational value. Instead of moving from planning to action to reflection and back to planning, in double-loop learning, people are encouraged to reflect on why they’re doing what they’re doing. This can help the organization take a step back and reconsider what’s best for all stakeholders instead of being stuck acting and reacting.

    Ultimately, double-loop learning gives team members the time, space, and systems to ask tough questions and have them addressed in meaningful ways.

    Let’s think back to the Challenger disaster. If NASA had created an organization that uses double-loop learning, employees wouldn’t have felt compelled to stay silent, and the employees who did speak up would have influenced the process enough to reconsider the timeline and develop a solution for the O-ring problem.

    Single-loop learning is like a train with no breaks. Double-loop learning provides the extra layer of critical thought that allows the organization to stop and pivot when that’s what’s required.

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    Think back to Argyris’ thermostat metaphor. Instead of just reacting—turning on and off when it detects a certain temperature—double-loop learning invites the thermostat to reconsider why it’s doing what it’s doing and how it might do it better.

    How to Shift to Double Loop Learning

    So, how can organizations shift from single to double-loop learning?

    1. Stakeholders Must Level With Each Other

    The first step to shifting from single to double-loop learning is for all stakeholders to sit down and talk openly about their expectations, values, and goals. These sessions should be led by organizational experts to ensure that old single-loop learning habits of distrust, withholding, and game-playing don’t keep people stuck in single-loop learning.

    One of the keys to team members leveling with each other is listening. Focus on creating an environment where everyone can speak up without fear of judgment or punishment.

    2. Create Benchmarks for Lasting Growth and Change

    Old habits die hard, and single-loop learning is no different. If systems, check-ins, benchmarks, and periodic times to reflect and reset aren’t put into place, old habits of withholding and mistrust will likely creep back in. You can guard against this by making it a norm to measure, assess, and improve how new double-loop learning systems are being implemented over time.

    3. Reward Risk-Taking and Critical Feedback

    Double-loop learning requires squeaky wheels. You have to create a culture that rewards criticism, risk-taking, and reflecting on the system as a whole and the reasons the organization does what it does. Think big picture stuff.

    This is about walking the walk. It’s one thing to tell employees to speak up and give their feedback, it’s another thing entirely to have systems in place that make employees feel safe enough to do so.

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    Kimberly Scott’s Radical Candor comes to mind as one way to start shifting to a more open and critical environment. Radical Candor is a system that incentivizes employees and managers to start speaking up about things they used to sweep under the rug. It’s a roadmap and a way to assess and improve open and reflective feedback between all stakeholders.

    Double Loop Learning for Individuals

    Double-loop learning isn’t only for organizations. You can also apply Argyris’ ideas to your learning.[3]

    Here’s how that might look:

    1. Level With Yourself and Seek Accountability

    Instead of being stuck in a single-loop learning cycle, break out by adding another layer of critical reflection. Why are you learning what you’re learning? Is it important? Is there another way? Think big picture again.

    Become clear on what you want to learn and how you’re currently trying to learn it. Then, open yourself up to others to keep yourself accountable. Leave the door open to completely shift major details about your learning goals.

    2. Create Benchmarks and Don’t Put Your Head in the Sand

    Just as with organizations, individuals also need to create goals and continuously reflect on whether or not they’re moving toward double-loop learning. Schedule times to meet with the people keeping you accountable for your learning plan. Then, ask yourself whether or not your learning goals still make sense.

    Ask big picture questions. Are you in the right environment to learn? Is your learning plan working? Do you need to change course altogether or shift your goals entirely? If it’s double-loop learning, you can’t be afraid to ask questions about why you’re doing what you’re doing and change course when the need arises.

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    3. Value Risk-Taking and Accept Criticism

    You’re also going to need to shift your mindset from simply learning and reflecting to accepting criticism, being critical of yourself as a learner, and taking risks and experiencing discomfort as you ask big questions and make drastic alterations to your learning plan over time.

    Instead of concerning yourself with grades and GPAs, double-loop learning would mean you’re allowing yourself time to step back and analyze why you’re learning what you’re learning, if there’s a better way, and even whether or not you should be on that learning trajectory in the first place.

    Final Thoughts

    Think back to the thermostat example. Doing homework, handing it in, and then receiving a grade is single-loop learning. Thinking about why you’re doing any of that and making appropriate changes that align with your learning goals shifts you into double-loop learning, and that’s a great way to see the bigger picture and get the best results.

    Learning and reflection are two of the most important things when it comes to organizational or personal development. This is why double-loop learning is key if you want yourself or your organization to succeed.

    More Tips on Effective Learning

    Featured photo credit: Cherrydeck via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] NPR: Challenger: What Went Wrong
    [2] Harvard Business Review: Double Loop Learning in Organizations
    [3] Journal of Advanced Learning: The role of reflection in single and double-loop learning

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