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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 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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