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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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Published on June 22, 2020

7 Characteristics of a Smart Auditory Learner

7 Characteristics of a Smart Auditory Learner

I spent five years as a middle and high school teacher, and I would often hear people talking about learning styles. “Betty is a visual learner. Sam is kinesthetic. Emma is an auditory learner.”

I hadn’t read any research about learning styles at the time, but on the face of it, it makes sense. Some people seem to learn better when they see things, others when they’re active, and some when they hear things. I know that I really struggle when someone spells a word aloud. I have no idea what word they’re spelling. I’ve always just made the excuse that I’m a visual learner and will need them to write it down for me. But is there any truth to learning styles?

Before we delve into the characteristics of a smart auditory learner, let’s take a step back and explore what research says about learning styles more generally.

Debunking Learning Styles

In the 1990s, a New Zealand school inspector named Neil Fleming[1] came up with a questionnaire to measure people’s preferred learning style. Now called the VARK questionnaire, it’s still used today to discern whether people are Visual, Auditory, Read/Write, or Kinesthetic learners.

Fleming’s learning styles theory gained popularity over the decades, but no studies have confirmed its legitimacy. In a study by Polly Husmann and Valerie Dean O’Loughlin[2], they found that people who used their preferred learning style did not see any improvements in learning outcomes. In short, there was no correlation between learning style and actual learning.

Another study by Abby R. Knoll, Hajime Otani, Reid L. Skeel, and K. Roger Van Horn[3] also found that learning style had no relationship with recall. Participants who preferred visual learning did not recall images they saw any better than words they heard.

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There’s no evidence that learning styles help people learn or recall. Instead, they should be thought of as a learning preference. I prefer when people write things down for me, but there’s no evidence that this improves my recall.

7 Characteristics of a Smart Auditory Learner

Having a preference for auditory learning means you gravitate toward verbal communication. Audiobooks and lectures might be your cup of tea instead of the charts and graphs of a visual learner.

So what if you think you’re an auditory learner? Let’s say you have a knack for processing audio communication and can close your eyes and pick up all the important details of a lecture or audiobook. The following list is for you. Here are 7 characteristics of smart auditory learners—people who use their auditory preference to their advantage.

1. They Take Learning Styles With a Grain of Salt

This bears repeating. There is no evidence that people’s learning styles impact their learning, so a smart auditory learner definitely takes learning styles with a grain of salt.

Think of it as a preference. Smart auditory learners know they prefer audiobooks and hearing things out loud, so there’s no harm leaning into that preference.

Just don’t assume it’s going to improve your test scores.

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2. They Get Rid of Distractions

Just because you’re an auditory learner doesn’t mean you can sift through lots of auditory inputs at once. No matter your learning preference, make sure you put effort into limiting distractions.

An auditory learner might struggle to study while listening to music or have difficulty working with the TV on because they’re so receptive to auditory information. Therefore, you should find a quiet place to learn, so you can focus all your energy on whatever it is you’re trying to retain.

3. They Match Learning Task With Learning Style

The real secret to improving your retention and recall is to match the learning task with the learning style. A smart auditory learner knows the best time to rely on auditory learning. They don’t always fall back on listening. Instead, they strategize the best approach for each individual learning challenge.

For example, I might know that I favor visual learning, but if I need to memorize my lines in a play, I might be better served recording the other characters’ lines, so I can practice saying my lines when I hear my cues.

Maybe I’m more kinesthetic. That doesn’t mean that I have to move to learn. Instead, I have to be strategic about when and how I add movement to my learning process. It might make sense for me to memorize countries or states by drawing a giant map and running to the right spot when someone yells out that geographic location. However, it doesn’t make much sense to dance around while I’m reading Foucault. The learning style should be in service of whatever it is that’s being learned.

Instead of catering to people’s learning preferences, we should be matching the learning style with the task at hand. Ask yourself, “What’s the best style (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, reading/writing) for this particular learning task?”

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4. They Use Their Voice

Auditory learners might need to read things aloud or listen to audiobooks instead of silently reading. Adding your voice can help turn reading/writing into an auditory exercise.

Get creative with it. If you consider yourself to be an auditory learner, think of different ways to add an audio element to your learning. Sing it. Yell it. Turn it into a poem. Just don’t get stuck in the reading/writing learning style when you prefer to be hearing and listening.

5. They Practice Listening

Smart auditory learners don’t take listening for granted. Just because you prefer auditory learning doesn’t mean you’re great at it. Instead, smart auditory learners take their preference and improve it over time.

Practice your listening skills. Give people your undivided attention, clarify what you’ve just heard, and challenge yourself to be as active and present a listener as possible.

Asking clarifying questions and repeating back what you’ve just heard can help you assess how accurate your listening is[4]. You should also transfer what you’ve heard to other learning styles. Write it down or draw it as pictures, charts, and graphs. That brings us to the next characteristic of smart auditory learners.

6. They Use All Learning Styles

Smart auditory learners use all the learning styles. They may have a preference for listening, but using all types of inputs helps improve retention and recall.

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If you’re studying for an exam, don’t just record your notes as audio or listen to online lectures. Use flashcards, read your notes out loud, quiz yourself, create an active game that requires you to move around, and teach the concepts to your roommate. This gets as many parts of your brain and body involved in the learning as possible, which increases your odds of retaining the information and acing the exam.

7. They Reflect on What Works and What Doesn’t

Smart auditory learners are also reflective and self-aware learners. After you try a learning strategy, assess and reflect on how it went. Did you retain as much information as you’d hoped? Build off your successes and change strategies when a learning style isn’t working for you.

Smart auditory learning is really just smart learning. Create a game plan that uses multiple, appropriate learning styles. Then, follow through by removing distractions and studying your heart out. After assessing how much you’ve retained, reflect on what worked and what didn’t. Then, refine your game plan for more success next time.

Final Thoughts

It would be magical if learning styles were a silver bullet for learning. I’d love to be able to say I’m a visual learner and then be able to recall every single piece of information just by seeing it represented visually. Unfortunately, that’s not at all how learning styles work.

Learning is complex and messy. Just because we prefer one learning style doesn’t mean it helps us learn better. What we really need to do is experiment with all the learning styles and try to match the right learning styles with each specific task.

Knowing your learning style is important. It’s good to know how you prefer to receive information. Just don’t stop there. Use your preference for auditory learning strategically and when it makes sense to do so.

More Tips for When You’re an Auditory Learner

Featured photo credit: Blaz Erzetic via unsplash.com

Reference

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