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Published on January 7, 2020

Hack Your Learning With These 9 Simple Study Habits

Hack Your Learning With These 9 Simple Study Habits

Do you know you can learn some good study habits if you desire to improve your learning and retentive capacity?

These study habits incorporate approaching study with a positive mindset, selecting an appropriate learning environment, avoiding or reducing distractions, establishing a realistic study schedule, and leveraging learning techniques and memory games.

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 at any point in time, but 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?

Good Study Habits Impact Your Motivation Level

Study smarter says the adage, not harder. By building good and simple study habits, as well as learning techniques, you will keep yourself supercharged. This will assist you in attaining your goals efficiently and quickly.

Improving Study Habits Positions You For Success

Cultivating simple study skills is not only relevant to the university; these skills will position you for success in life. 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.

Effective Study Habits 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.

Developing Good Study Habits Saves 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 save you more time to focus on other things that are crucial in your life.

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Good Study Habits Enhance Your Learning

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

With these benefits, you may then ask, ‘what are the essential study habits?’ Read on.

9 Study Habits to Hack Your Learning

1. Review Often

Design a study plan to review your study notes. 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.

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. Some even claimed they failed a test they prepared hard for without knowing they did not understand what they studied.

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.

3. Employ Different Study Materials

Do not depend on your book or lecture notes. Make use of different materials to aid your learning.

This study habit enables you to understand the topic you are studying thoroughly. It also helps you to prepare for any major test or examination.

You can access Lynda Library or other online and local libraries to source for materials relating to the topic you are studying.

4. Utilize Flash Cards

Employing flashcards can enhance memorization. It will assist you in recalling vital concepts and key terminologies.

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Flashcards will help you condense the voluminous amount of notes. You can also form the study habit of drawing diagrams to recall important information and details about the topics. This technique will help you revise before a major examination, test, or interview quickly.

Using flashcards can be very helpful as you can carry them around everywhere you go.

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.

You can take a break of 10 minutes, having studied for thirty minutes to one hour. You can watch an exciting video clip during this break or take a walk in the garden to relax your nerves.

6. Teach Others

Several studies have found out that you learn better when you teach others a concept you have studied.[1]

You cannot teach what you don’t know. Teaching other people positions you to learn as you have no option but to express the information in your words. This is because you reinforce the information as you repeat while teaching others.

At some points, your students will ask questions which you will need to analyze before providing answers. 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 dwell on.

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Most times, you think you know a topic, but when you evaluate yourself using the test, you will find the topic or concept challenging.

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. The evaluation also helps you in managing your time during the study.

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. This method is also known as MNEMONIC.[2]

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. This can also be applied while learning.

9. Take Good Care of Yourself

This is an aspect that most learners don’t manage properly. Quality sleep and healthy eating habits affect your assimilation. Learners who neglect proper diet and quality sleep will find it hard to retain information fast.

You should drink at least eight glasses of water, have eight hours of sleep, and a take balanced diet daily. Food such as berries, fish, groundnut, egg, and broccoli have been found out to boost brainpower: 12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

How to Learn Study Habits

So, how to learn these study habits in order to learn more effectively?

Do the following before you study:

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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 the exercise impact your career and personal development?

Set Priorities

Several topics would clamor for your attention. It is important to prioritize them in order of importance. I recommend starting with the simplest to the most complex topics.

Plan

Design a 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.

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

The study habits mentioned in this article will help you to become more productive while studying and learning.

Utilize different materials and resources for adequate comprehension. Introduce breaks into your study sessions so you can recharge from pressure.

If you imbibe these study habits, you will find it easier to hack your learning.

More to Help You Learn Faster

Featured photo credit: Bonnie Kittle via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

How Social Learning Helps You Learn Faster and Easier

How Social Learning Helps You Learn Faster and Easier

Have you ever noticed that you tend to learn certain things simply by observing others? Learning in this way is called social learning, which is one of the 6 common types of learning. It helps you learn faster as knowledge and habits are acquired easily when they are practiced by people within a certain environment.

Throughout the centuries, humans have incorporated social learning in their lives as a major learning approach. The fact that human behavior is learned has made this possible. From initially being the only way to learn, it is now the fastest and most comprehensive learning method.

In this article, you’ll find out how you can make good use of social learning and observed behaviors to help you learn faster and easier.

The social learning theory as presented by Albert Bandura is simple. It suggests social learning is based on attention, retention, motivation and reproduction[1].

While these stages seem like common sense, there is a surprisingly large number of people who go through social interactions without learning anything because they aren’t actively practicing the different stages.

Let’s get started with the first stage, attention.

Attention

Since our mind has a limited capacity for storing data, it’s the things that we pay attention to that stay with us. Giving 100% of your attention to a situation you learn from is guaranteed to help you maximize social learning.

Stay in the Moment

When you’re focused on learning from your surroundings, your mind will focus only on what it wants to learn, so distractions fade away. However, it’s very normal to be in a situation where the information you are getting becomes monotonous or you get distracted for some other reason.

Make sure you are well-rested and energized so you can spend your energy learning things that matter to you[2].

social learning theory

    Be Mindful

    Mindfulness in its simplest terms is tuning into we’re experiencing in the present rather than thinking about something that could or did happen.

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    For social learning, you should be mindful only of the conversation or activity you want to learn from, filtering out other things that don’t matter to you as much at that moment. This way, your brain can make memories of what you are experiencing at that time only, which is the thing you want to learn.

    If you find yourself getting distracted, focus on deep breathing until the distractions fade away and you can bring your attention back to the learning opportunity at hand.

    For more tips on being mindful, check out this article.

    Don’t Multitask

    In today’s hyper-connected world, it’s normal, even expected, to be a multitasker. Being amongst people and checking emails on smartphones is now normal social behavior.

    However, when you want to maximize your social learning, don’t multitask. You should focus only on the interaction you want to learn from and block out all the rest.

    Don’t reach for your device, and don’t engage in multiple conversations simultaneously. In short, don’t have your mind and other senses deal with anything apart from learning.

    Engage Actively

    Similar to the above points, learning through social learning is fast and easy if you listen, speak, and observe actively.

    When you’re actively engaged, you respond to the situation by making relevant observations, mimicking important actions, and focusing on listening so you understand.

    To maximize the benefits of learning through social learning, be attentive to those who are around and looking to learn as well. A good example of this would be medical students on clinical rotations who are actively observing and listening to the doctor they are assigned to, and responding to his / her queries.

    Retention

    Paying attention is great for learning, but what about retaining the new information?

    Our brain has limited space to store data, so how do we ensure we remember things that are important to us?

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    These tips should help increase your retention power.

    Repeat to Remember

    Our brain starts developing from the moment we are born, absorbing things from people and experiences around us. It is learning constantly, and repeated experiences help reinforce the learning.

    A new experience opens up new neural pathways in our brain, and repetition of these experiences[3] strengthens the pathways, helping us retain the information better and for longer.

    Increase Brain Power

    You can improve retention by increasing your brain power: exercise regularly, sleep well, and stretch memory muscles by playing brain games.

    Here are more ways to help: How to Increase Brain Power: 10 Simple Ways to Train Your Brain

    Make Connections

    Connect a social learning opportunity with mnemonics. Use mental images, music, and anything else you want to retain and recall information.

    Link new information with old to reach new conclusions. You can use writing and speech for this.

    Remember That Less Is More

    When you are looking to retain knowledge through social learning, try taking in information in small quantities.

    Full day conferences, lectures that last for hours, and similar learning schedules do not have the desired effect. The human mind shuts down when it is faced with information overload, and the learning from these situations becomes minimal.

    Research shows that if you are looking to retain information from social learning opportunities, it’s a far better idea to put yourself in the situation more frequently for a shorter amount of time[4].

    Motivation

    The idea of a tangible reward or the emotional high that comes with the sense of accomplishment is what motivates us to keep doing a good thing, while the fear of repercussions or unpleasant outcomes is what keeps from doing something bad.

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    When a child observes that good behavior of a sibling results in them getting a treat, while bad behavior courts punishment, the child wanting a treat will be motivated toward good behavior by this social learning lesson.

    Motivation to learn new information and habits is a critical part of social learning. To stay motivated for social learning, you can try the following.

    Find a Role Model

    Finding a role model and basing your learning on them means you are motivated to duplicate the role model’s behavior.

    The medical students example fits well here again. The students will be motivated to observe and imitate better clinical skills and patient handling techniques by observing others around them and aspiring to be as good as they are.

    Make a Note

    Write down things that inspired you, and keep going back to them to stay motivated.

    Talk About It

    Talk to your role model or peers about what is motivating you in a shared social learning environment.

    An example of this is a person in rehab who is motivated to attend meetings by the presence of others who have managed to kick the addiction and are on the road to recovery.

    This is based on reinforcement or punishment. Positive motivation is reward-based motivation (satisfied patients) and negative motivation is punishment-based motivation (absolute dependence on drugs).

    Remember, no matter which type works for you, without motivation, there is no reason for us to do anything.

    Reproduction

    In the context of social learning, “reproduction” is not propagation of the learning, but the implementation of it.

    Reproducing learned information is the last stage of social learning. Once you pay attention to your surroundings and retain what you learned in the setting, you are then motivated to reproduce your learning so you can get the reward.

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    Bandura suggests direct reinforcement, vicarious reinforcement and self-reinforcement as the different ways to reproduce knowledge gained through social learning[5].

    Direct Reinforcement

    This is when you act on knowledge, knowing the result will be positive, or avoid the act because the result would be unpleasant.

    To repeat the medical students’ example here, direct reinforcement would be one of them practicing patient handling techniques learned from their role model, with the expectation that the result would be a satisfied patient.

    Vicarious Reinforcement

    Vicarious reinforcement in social learning is the application of knowledge that has not been learned first-hand but is learned by observing the consequences of the actions of a third party.

    A good example of this type of reinforcement would be learning not to take drugs after seeing the condition of a drug addict.

    Self-Reinforcement

    Self-reinforcement is when a person decides to reward him / herself for good behavior, or bring about a negative consequence as a result of an undesired situation.

    Think of a student who has promised herself a scoop of ice cream if she gets an A on an exam she studied hard for, or decided to ask for extra coaching if she got anything below a C.

    The Bottom Line

    Albert Bandura presented the social learning theory in the 1970s, and it immediately gained popularity because of its simplicity, practicality, and immense potential for success. While the theory never went out of fashion, it is now experiencing a resurgence for all the right reasons.

    If you want to become a smarter learner, take advantage of learning experiences and the social learning theory to learn faster!

    More About Effective Learning

    Featured photo credit: Alexis Brown via unsplash.com

    Reference

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