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Last Updated on September 2, 2020

10 Powerful Learning Hacks to Boost Your Learning Ability

10 Powerful Learning Hacks to Boost Your Learning Ability

There’s always room for improvement. No matter which industry you’re working in or how long your list of skills is, there is always more to learn.

It’s true that people learn for as long as they live. But with age, one’s learning ability withers. Luckily, just like the hundreds of life hacks that make existence just that much easier, there are some proven learning hacks that help you absorb more knowledge about any skill that you want to polish further.

Here’s the good news:

The implementation of these learning hacks will help you excel both at your work and in everyday life. You can boost your productivity in all aspects of life by becoming a sponge to all the useful information around you!

Before I dive in to the learning hacks, I’d like to recommend you who want to supercharge your learning ability and pick up any skills faster to take a FREE Learning Fast Track Class offered by Lifehack. It’s a 20-minute intensive class called Spark Your Learning Genius, and will surely upgrade your learning skills right away. Find out more about the Fast Track Class here.

Now, here are the top learning hacks for becoming an expert at learning.

1. Define Goals

If you want to eradicate all the confusions and distractions from the process of learning, you have to guide your brain to a certain path. Unless you finalize a direction, your brain will be all over the place.

To do so, you need to set your goals. Sit down and figure out what it is exactly that you want to learn. If you spend a few minutes defining goals, you’ll end up saving a lot more time.

Well-defined goals have to be SMART:

  • Specific: Do not aim for everything. Set boundaries so that your mind considers it achievable
  • Measurable: This is basically the scale that you measure your progress against
  • Attainable: Be realistic because if the mind cannot comprehend it, you’ll never be able to accomplish it
  • Relevant: The goals should not be outlandish or something that goes against your beliefs and values
  • Time-bound: How long do you want to give yourself to learn? Set a realistic time frame. Without any time limitation, you’ll procrastinate more than you want to

Your brain should be able to visualize the final aim. Is it you strumming a guitar like a pro by the next month or are you fluently speaking a foreign language a year from now?

Once you push your brain onto the right track, things will proceed smoothly.

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2. Take Handwritten Notes

The brain remembers things better if they are written down physically. You could repeat things a hundred times in your mind. But, if you wrote them down once, your mind will be able to have something visual to build further concepts on.

Let’s say you’re figuring out ways to tackle bad PR. If you develop a strategy in your mind alone, you’re likely to forget some parts. However, written notes and mind maps will allow to you remember as well as expand on those ideas.

Of course, this hack doesn’t apply exactly to things like learning to drive. But even in that case, you will have to drive a car instead of telling your brain how to drive in order to actually learn the skill.

3. Go for Short Learning Sessions

An average human’s attention span is no more than a few minutes. There is some conflict on the exact figure. Some sources believe it is between 10 to 15 minutes whereas others argue it is only 8 to 10 seconds.

Either way, humans cannot focus on anything for too long. The brain literally stops absorbing anything that you’re feeding it.

Therefore, instead of wasting your time and energy on long learning sessions, go for multiple short episodes.

You can break down the learning criteria into smaller parts. Learn one part each day instead of burdening yourself with a huge chunk of the process once every week. This helps the brain retain information more efficiently.

4. Share Knowledge

Learning is a two-way process. You take in some information and you also give out some information. This isn’t something that you’ll have less of if you give some away. In fact, learning is probably the process in which you get more by giving some away.

Share what you know and you might get feedback that will strengthen your concept. Simply talking about what you’ve learned will clarify any confusion in your mind.

On top of that, the person you’re sharing your knowledge with might point out a grave mistake you were making all along. Even if none of these happens, you’ll contribute to the cycle of learning. You teach some people and learn from others. This way, knowledge will spread and benefit everyone around you.

5. Set Schedules

So you know how your brain has a mental clock? If you have set a 6 am alarm for work, you’ll gradually get so used to waking up at that time that you might not even need an alarm anymore.

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Your brain is always prepared for the routine that you’ve set. If you use this to your benefit, you can boost your learning power.

Have a routine. The brain can retain information better if there is a regular learning schedule. Let’s say you decide to have a 20-minute learning session every evening. Your brain will slowly develop the tendency to take in new information at that time.

A set schedule will also help you achieve your goals in a timely manner.

Wondering how to build routines? Take a look at these Powerful Daily Routine Examples for a Healthy and High-Achieving You.

6. Organize Information

To prevent confusion, new skills should be learned in a way that the new information stays organized mentally.

Basically, this means that you should consider your brain to be like a computer. If you keep saving new files on the desktop, everything will get so jumbled up that you won’t be able to link related files or find what you’re looking for.

Pretty much the same happens with your brain. You have to organize your brain in a way that there is a separate mental space for the new skill you’re trying to learn.

Let’s assume you already know how to play the guitar. Now, if you were to learn a new instrument, there is a high chance that the brain will get confused and the chords of the guitar will get mixed in with the new instrument.

This can be done by spacing out the intake of new knowledge and repetition of newly learned ideas. The reinforcement of the knowledge will do exactly what needs to be done inside your brain.

7. Use Various Techniques

All humans have different learning styles.[1] There are 7 broad categories. You can easily figure out your style online.

The concept of these learning styles is that if a person learns in a way that goes hand in hand with their learning style, they can retain new information more successfully.

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Now, here’s the deal:

This is definitely a useful theory. But, this can restrict you.

In today’s day and age, there are hundreds of learning techniques available. Certain methods are a good mix of various learning styles too.

The point is, you should not limit yourself to one mode of learning. Firstly, it gets boring. Secondly, if you figured out your learning style incorrectly, your entire struggle will go to waste.

Alternate between all the available options. You can attend workshops or webinars. Listen to YouTube videos or read books. Do as much as possible and then stick to the methods you find are the most effective.

This learning hack is not the fastest. But it is one that ensures successful learning.

8. Follow Your Role Model

A lot of the time, the brain fails to agree with your motivation level. You may have full faith in yourself but the brain will be unable to understand that what you’re trying to learn is possible.

The best way to satisfy yourself and your brain is to have a real-life example to follow. Someone who achieved something similar to what you’re aiming for.

For example, a person who learned a foreign language in one month will be the perfect role model to follow if you want to learn a new language in a short time span too.

So, this will make your mind believe that your goal is achievable. Even if you don’t have the same story as your role model, they will serve as a motivation for you to keep struggling.

9. Utilize Time Efficiently

One of the previously mentioned learning hacks was to go for short learning episodes. So if you’re giving only less than an hour to a task, how in the world will you fulfill your goals in a short time period?

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Here’s the thing:

That short learning session is the time when your brain will learn new information. The rest of the day, on the other hand, has to be used to prepare your brain for this learning episode.

Throughout your day, do something related to the skill you’re trying to learn. Direct your unconscious mind to a relevant task even in your free time. For example, play a podcast that is relevant to the skill while you’re walking to work or read a book written by your role model before you go to sleep.

The important thing here is to focus all these activities and hacks around the main skill.

So, if you’re trying to learn the French language, the learning hacks and other supportive tactics you use need to be either in the same language or somehow helping you to learn it.

10. Keep Your Brain Healthy

You can use as many tips and tricks as you like. But, the only thing that ensures there success is a healthy brain.

Ultimately, your brain the main organ that plays a role in absorbing new knowledge. If the brain itself is not in a healthy state, you can never increase your skillset. Instead, an unhealthy mind will deteriorate your existing qualities.

Make sure to have a good sleeping schedule. Alongside that, eat a healthy and well-balanced diet. Tired, sleepy, exhausted minds learn nothing. Include mental exercises and meditation to your daily routine to boost the performance of the brain.

All these learning hacks are, luckily, extremely simple to include in your day to day life, but only if you’re determined. With these brilliant tips, you can get to the top of the ladder of success one steady step at a time!

More Tips for Smart Learning

Featured photo credit: Alex Samuels via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on November 6, 2020

How Motor Learning Can Help You Learn Effectively

How Motor Learning Can Help You Learn Effectively

Practice makes perfect. It’s a cliché saying that gets pulled out time and time again. For many, they loath to hear it, but that saying has some truth to it. After all, this saying pops up the most when we are in the midst of motor learning.

While this saying is off, as perfection is impossible, the practice side of it is the only way for us to get closer to that level. And the only way a motor skill can get to that level is through motor learning. It’s through this concept where we can grow the various skills in our lives, but also to learn effectively by learning the right way.

What Is Motor Learning?

To present an example, it’s best to explain what the theory of motor learning is. For starters, it’s been described as such:[1]

“A set of internal processes associated with practice or experience leading to relatively permanent changes in the capability for skilled behavior.”

Our brain responds to sensory information to either practice or experience a certain skill that allows for growth of a motor task or the ability to produce a new motor skill. This happens because our central nervous system changes to allow this to happen in the first place.To see this at work, consider one of the first skills we learned as a human being: walking. While some think toddlers get up and start trying to walk, there are many complex processes at work.

The reason people started to learn to walk was because of motor learning.

At the base stage, we started to walk because months before even trying to take our first steps, we saw how important it was. We witnessed several people walking and understood how helpful it is to walk on two feet.

The 3 Stages of Motor Learning

There is more to motor learning than you might think. Over the years, the learning community has uncovered that there are three stages of motor learning:

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  • Cognitive
  • Associative
  • Autonomous

Each stage has its own requirements for further development and what each stage brings to the learning experience[2].

Motor learning for performance

    Cognitive Stage

    This base stage is where a lot of learning and context happens. At this stage, we’re not overly concerned about how to actually do the skill properly. Instead, we’re more concerned about why we should bother learning the skill.

    Once we’ve got a grasp of that, this stage also starts the trial and error process. You can call it practice, but at this stage, the idea is to at least try it out rather than nail it.

    This is also the stage where we are heavily reliant on guidance. We can have a coach or a teacher there, and their role is to provide a good learning environment. This means removing distractions and using visuals, as well as encouraging those trials and errors to guide the learning process.

    One example of this goes back to the walking example, but other instances are things like driving a car or riding a bike. Even when we are older, you can see this form of learning working.

    Associative Stage

    The second stage is where we’ve got some practice under our belt, and we have a good grasp of general concepts. We know what to do in order to perform this particular skill. The only problem is that we might not be able to do that skill all that well when compared to others.

    Indeed, we know what to do, but not “how to do it well.” It’s at this stage where the saying “Practice makes perfect” rings true. The more that we practice, the more we can refine and tighten the loose ends of that skill.

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    An example of this motor learning at work is seen in sports. Generally speaking, people can perform better the more that they practice. That’s because the more we practice something, the more we understand what input does to our bodies as well as where our current limits lie.

    Autonomous Stage

    At this stage, everything is more or less automatic and will stick in the long term. We can still improve, but you don’t need to tell yourself to go and do a certain task or assignment constantly. Your body has become adjusted to the idea of doing this.

    .

    An example of this learning is the skills that you use at work. When you get to work, you need very little persuasion to actually do your work. Whether that’s writing, lifting, operating a machine, or performing, there are a set of skills that we don’t think about and merely do.

    The Principles of Motor Learning

    The principles of motor learning are few and far between. Generally speaking, there is a consensus that the key to production of a new motor skill isn’t so much on the amount of time spent practicing, but the way that we practice.

    This idea was brought up in a 2016 study published on Science Alert, where scientists uncovered that making changes in your training can enhance your learning experience.[3]

    With this in mind, the core principles focus on the methodology of learning. Not only that, but ensuring they follow through the stages that I mentioned above, which are simple in concept.

    The core principle of this learning is to reinforce a skill so much that our execution of that skill is nothing but mindless consistency.

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    The study that I brought up is a new addition to that principle, as we now know that making alterations during our practice can cause new aspects of learning to grow and enrich our learning and mastery of a skill.

    How to Use Motor Learning Theory For Effective Learning

    The theory as we know it is to practice movement patterns until they become second nature and to experiment and make small changes in order to improve performance of a skill.

    How does all of that help with us being better at something? That study found something called memory reconsolidation.[4] One of the senior study author’s, Pablo A. Celnik, M.D. stated that:

    “What we found is if you practice a slightly modified version of a task you want to master, you actually learn more and faster than if you just keep practicing the exact same thing multiple times in a row.”

    Motor learning through memory reconsolidation

      Celnik also stressed why this is such a big deal:

      “Our results are important because little was known before about how reconsolidation works in relation to motor skill development. This shows how simple manipulations during training can lead to more rapid and larger motor skill gains because of reconsolidation.”

      In other words, by using memory reconsolidation, we can learn faster and ultimately gain the ability to perform a skill faster than by practicing something for several hours without making changes[5].

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      Why does this variation enhance practice? Because the act of recalling our memories isn’t a passive process.[6]

      Whether you are learning a new skill or recalling an event, the sheer act of recalling changes the memory itself. In essence, our memories become highly unreliable as we focus and subtly alter those memories in light of recent events.

      This is because our brain is more interested in the most useful version of the world and disregards useless details.

      Bottom Line

      In order to incorporate motor learning into your life, it’s a matter of mixing up your practice session slightly. Whatever skill it is you are trying to do, urge yourself to make subtle changes to how you perform.

      If you’re writing, try applying a new word you never used previously that you picked up.

      Are you practicing an instrument or playing a sport? Try to use a different muscle or a new movement to achieve the same sound. This can be something as simple as posture or body position.

      The idea with motor learning is to keep practicing, even if you are at the stage where your movements are automatic. This variation can very well bring you to the next level of that skill.

      More About Learning Faster

      Featured photo credit: Jordan Whitfield via unsplash.com

      Reference

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