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Published on March 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!

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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

Now, here’s the deal:

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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?

Here’s the thing:

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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 March 25, 2020

How to Learn Quickly And Master Any Skill You Want

How to Learn Quickly And Master Any Skill You Want

Have you ever heard of the idiom ‘practice makes perfect’? I’m pretty sure someone would have said that to you at least once in your life! It’s a common saying, often used to encourage someone when they’re learning or doing something that is new to them.

They may need many tries before succeeding and getting it right. It’s like learning to ride a bicycle, learning how to drive, taking up a second language, or cooking for the first time. It’s rare for anyone to ace it on their first try.

Whenever you want to start learning something new, I’m sure you’re always hoping to get good at it quickly. But the reality is, that sometimes it does take days, months or even years before you can confidently master a skill.

That’s simply how learning works. You try, you gain experience, you learn from it, and you try again. And each time, you’re improving and making progress. Every time you repeat this learning process, you’re going through something called a Feedback Loop. You’ll have to go through multiple feedback loops before confidently executing the skill.

What separates a fast learner from a slower learner is not some innate, natural talent. Instead, it’s because the fast learner understands how they learn, and has a systematic way to apply it all the time to learn a variety of things. They know how to effectively use their Feedback Loop to speed up the learning process.

So the good news for you, is that if you’re currently wanting to learn a new skill as quickly as possible, then you just need to learn how to create an effective Feedback Loop.

What is a Feedback Loop?

When we talk about feedback, it simple means getting information about how well you’re performing each time you make an attempt at practicing or applying a skill. Feedback is what tells you what went wrong, or what went right.

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A Feedback Loop is made up of 3 stages:

  1. Practice / Apply – This is the stage where you put what you want to learn into action.
  2. Measure – This is the stage where you’re acquiring information about your performance. This is also the stage that is most ignored… or done ineffectively.
  3. Learn – This is the stage where you analyze how well you performed, and make adjustments to improve and practice/apply again.

It’s important to recognize these 3 stages and put them into place each time you practice a new skill.

Many people only have Stage 1 completed, and a very unclear or fuzzy process for Stage 2, which leads to poor results in Stage 3.

A good, smooth cycle will help you continuously make improvements with each loop, creating steady progress and upgrading your understanding of the skill.

How to Have an Effective Feedback Loop

To make sure your Feedback Loop is effective, you will have to look at 3 key factors: Consistency, Speed, and Accuracy.

1. Be Consistent

Being consistent means having a regular way to get the same quality of feedback. You need to be able to compare every practice or learning experience in order to measure, learn and make adjustments. If your feedback is not consistent, then you’re going to have a hard time knowing what went wrong or what went right.

For example, say you’re learning to play the guitar. If you play a different song every time you practice, you’re going to get very inconsistent feedback. Because the difficulty, rhythm, and pace of every song is different, you won’t have a reliable way to compare how well you played the current song versus the last. So, the best way to learn would be to play the same song over and over again until you get to a certain proficiency.

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Seems obvious in this case, but it’s just an example. A lot of times learning is hard because we don’t focus on keeping with a consistent environment or actions.

2. Be Quick

Let’s move on to the second factor: speed. Having speedy or fast feedback is important because the longer it takes to get feedback, the longer it will take to improve on the skill. That’s why some people spend a tremendous amount of time practicing, but make very slow progress.

On the other hand, the best forms of feedback are almost instantaneous. The shorter the time it takes for one Feedback Loop to complete, the better. This is because you’ll have more attempts, which means more improvements within the same timespan.

So, the key to getting fast feedback is to take the skill or knowledge and break it down. Try to breakdown the skill into different components. They could be broken down into steps, subskills or processes, or even by difficulty.

For example, if the skill you want to learn involves a sequence (ie: there is a step by step process), you can break your learning down by each step. Create a Feedback Loop for each step individually instead of the whole process. Isolate the processes into different parts that you can focus and work on individually.

Let’s say you’re learning to cook. You can break this skill into steps, such as finding fresh and suitable ingredients, preparing and handling the ingredients, preparing condiments and sauces, serving and plating, etc.

Or let’s say you’d like to learn how to play soccer. You can identify the sub-skills that make up the larger learning techniques to playing soccer, and create feedback loops for each of them individually. So you could start by learning how to dribble the ball, followed by passing, and then shooting.

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The third and final factor to an effective Feedback Loop, is Accuracy. This means having feedback that actually reflects your performance accurately. Since you’re relying on feedback to tell you what and where to improve on the next time, this is very important. This is why measuring feedback is a key skill to have for an effective Feedback Loop.

3. Be Accurate

Obtaining accuracy in feedback becomes a common weak point for many learners, because it’s not always easy to define what “accuracy” means.

To get accurate feedback, we have to have a way of measuring it. The reason why we sometimes get poor feedback is because we’re trying to measure our progress without quantifying our performance. Or, we’re using the wrong metrics to quantify the feedback. Worse yet, it might just be that you were never measuring or recording your performance at all! Can you recall yourself being in a similar situation?

In order to find areas for improvement, you have to be able to compare your current performance with your previous performance. This is so that you have a baseline, or something to measure up against, to look for room for improvements.

Quantifying is a way to accurately measure your performance. Quantifying something means attaching a number to it. This helps to give objectivity and consistency when comparing two things. Quantifying feedback can give you constructive information that will help you improve during each cycle of the feedback loop.

Let’s say you’re practicing how to dribble a basketball. The first time you dribble, your coach tells you you’re doing a good job. The second time round, you get better and your coach affirms you by saying you’ve done a great job! Sure, your dribbling skill has improved–you know it, your coach knows it, but by how much? And how can you further improve your dribbling skills? A good job versus a great job doesn’t indicate how well you’ve performed, and how much better you can perform.

But, now in the second scenario, if you manage to dribble the basketball up and down the court 4 times continuously without letting the ball slip, your coach tells you you’ve done a good job. In the second round, your coach now tells you to dribble the basketball up and down the court 8 times continuously without letting the ball slip. You managed to do that and your coach tells you great job! You can now quantify your improvement by the number of times you were able to dribble the basketball across the court.

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With a quantity attached to your performance, you’re now able to push yourself further by learning to dribble 16 times or more across the basketball court. You can even add in new obstacles like having to dribble across the court with an opponent trying to snatch your basketball. If you’re successful, you can try dribbling across the court with 2 opponents snatching your basketball, so on and so forth. You’re now able to easily quantify your improvement.

Continuously Improve Your Feedback Loop!

So now that you’re familiar with the Feedback Loop, are you ready to put it into practice? What’s a new skill that you’d like to start on?

Try implementing every stage of the Feedback Loop when learning this new skill and see for yourself, whether your learning improves at a quicker rate.

It is essential to continuously improve your Feedback Loop in order to keep up your momentum, and avoid running into the law of diminishing returns. Improving your Feedback Loop means knowing what to measure next, and what questions to ask, to find out.

In fact, the technique you’ve learned from this article is only part of our Learning Course. If you’d like to discover more gems that will help you speed up your learning and push yourself towards the goals that you’ve been striving for, check out our Learn Anything Fast Course.

Or you can find out more learning tips in these articles:

Featured photo credit: Adeolu Eletu via unsplash.com

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