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Published on March 26, 2020

10 Tips to Improve Your Learning Curve

10 Tips to Improve Your Learning Curve

Improving your learning curve is mandatory in order to avoid getting stuck in a vicious cycle. You may already be experiencing this cycle. Daily, you fail to manage your time efficiently because you’re not a pro at the tasks you do. To become such, you need to put in the time.

It is just the same as when employers ask for work experience to hire you, but you need to get hired to get work experience.

If you don’t want to be stuck in this sinking swamp, you’re in the right place!

Let’s first find out what the learning curve theory is. Then, you will get to know the top 10 tips to boost your learning curve so that you can eventually find a way out of this stress.

What Is the Learning Curve Theory?

The learning curve is basically a graphical representation of the time taken to do a task. As per this curve, the more times a person does a job, the less time it takes to do it successfully.

For example, if you’re strumming a guitar for the first time, you’ll probably take up a solid few minutes to figure out the finger placement for each chord. Once you get the hand of the task by repeating it multiple times, you can do the same job within seconds!

The theory itself is more mathematical. It involves a formula, overtime observations, and a fair few measurements to create an accurate learning curve.[1]

However, for the implementation of this theory in your daily life, you don’t really have to do all the calculations. All that you need to be clear on is the idea of the learning curve so that you can use the science behind it for your improvement.

The learning curve can be applied in all parts of life. Whether it is a toddler who is getting familiar with phonics or an adult who is learning a completely new language, this theory can be used everywhere.

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All in all, the main concept is that the repetition of any task or information will accustom the brain to perform quicker in that regard. The mind gets used to the process, it begins to become habitual in the method, and it ends up saving a lot of time.[2]

How to Improve Your Learning Curve

There are a few tricks you can use to speed up the improvement of your learning curve. Using these tips will help you master whichever skills you want to!

1. Start With Your Strengths

When you’re starting out with a new process, it is best to go ahead with tasks that you are already well-aware of. This will help you get the hang of the process before you move on to tougher tasks. Starting with your strengths will also keep your motivation high.

If you’re not sure what your personal strengths are, this article may help.

Let’s say you’re already working on mastering pottery. Keep practicing the same skill instead of starting out with something completely new. Otherwise, you’ll lose whatever skill you have in pottery, and the new skill will take up more learning time, too.

2. Don’t Expect Miracles

In the process of lifting up your learning curve, you will have to put in a lot of time. It is not a magic trick that will make you a pro within a few days.

You can use tips to speed up your learning process, but at the same time, be prepared to dedicate ample time to the process.

3. Repeat and Redo

The learning curve theory is all about repeating the job at hand to reduce the amount of time it takes.

Hence, the ultimate goal is to fit in as many repetitions as possible. It gets boring and redundant, but without redoing the same thing over and over, your learning curve will not get any better.

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4. Use the Right Techniques

Everyone has a different way of learning. But guess what is also true? The generalized learning techniques have come into existence after a lot of trial and error.

You may be tempted to try out new methods of learning for yourself. But in the process of improving your learning curve, time is of immense importance. This is why you should stick to the tried and true techniques of learning whatever task you’re working on.

You’ll have to do some research to find out what the right techniques for your chosen skill are. This article may help you get started.

5. Take It One Step at a Time

The learning curve varies for different tasks and skills. Therefore, only tackle one learning curve at a time.

For example, f you’re working on a musical skill, stick to it until you master it. Then move forward to something new. You will only make things more time-consuming and tough if you attempt to tackle multiple skills and tasks simultaneously.

Approaching various tasks at the same time will not be effective at all. Instead, it will do the complete opposite and further slow you down.

Also, within one skill, divide the learning into chunks. Do not try to take on all the possible information at once.

6. Evaluate Yourself

Imagine doing all the hard work but not noticing any progress in the end. To keep this devastating misfortune from happening, keep evaluating yourself regularly. It can be done weekly or bi-weekly as per the nature of what you’re practicing.

Your personal evaluations should be honest. One way to measure your progress is to time yourself. It will be a foolproof representation of your advancement.

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If you’re not improving at a steady pace, you probably need to change your learning techniques. The fault may be in your schedule. You could be either over-pressurizing yourself or not working hard enough.

7. Get External Evaluation

Some things cannot be evaluated on your own, and sometimes personal evaluations are just not enough. A second opinion is never a bad option.

You can record your progress and show it to someone else for feedback. Or, you can do the task in front of an expert.

For example:

If you’re improving your writing skills, you can time yourself and write a piece to later send to a professional writer for evaluation.

Similarly, you can build a piece of furniture in front of a carpenter to get an opinion on your technique.

The external evaluation will be the most useful if the feedback comes from an expert from the relevant industry. However, if that’s not possible, you can always find some use from a layman’s opinion, too.

8. Stay Focused

The entire technique of using the learning curve is dependent on your brain. If the brain isn’t focused, all your efforts will be useless.

To stay focused, you will have to work extremely hard. The hard work of a few days will help you out for the rest of your life. Alongside that, you cannot afford to waste time. Focus on the skills that will help you out in practical life.

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All these factors combined will lead to positive results. You can set out time in your schedule for mental exercises to strengthen your focus. Another thing to do is to practice your skill in isolation so that there are minimal distractions. Breaks are yet another vital part of maintaining your focus throughout the process.

9. Stay Determined

You know how charcoal has to go through indescribable pressure to become a diamond? Well, you’ll have to go through something similar, too. As said previously, it is not a magic trick. You will have to put in a lot of effort.

You can only be successful if you stay determined. If you head in intending to quit as things get difficult to manage, you’ll never reach your goal.

10. Offer Assistance

Once you feel like you’ve become a master, it’s time to further strengthen your learning.

The best way to do it by teaching others. You will not only repeat all the concepts yourself, but it will also help you improve on any minor flaws that were left in your technique.

Final Thoughts

With all these tips in your mind, your learning curve will only go up. The best way to utilize this strength is to boost your professional life with this method.

You can start by working on the skills that will help you become the master at your job. Once you become the fastest, most suitable person for the job, you will automatically excel.

There will be no competition, no matter how saturated the market is. You can increase your value and demand by using the learning curve theory to your advantage.

All that’s left to do now is smartly use these tips and tricks. You will achieve guaranteed success in every part of your life with the help of the learning curve!

More Tips on Learning

Featured photo credit: Caleb Angel via unsplash.com

Reference

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on July 24, 2020

A Comprehensive Guide to a Smart Learning Process

A Comprehensive Guide to a Smart Learning Process

One of the most crucial aspects of our lives is the ability to learn. We often take this skill for granted since not many of us pause and think about our learning process. In fact, if we did, we would probably uncover that we engage in ineffective learning mechanisms.

Think about it. Has your learning helped you recall things you learned last month? Go back a year and ponder.

A lot of how we learn was tucked away in school. Our exposure to school learning is the basis of how we learn moving forward. However, over the past few decades, learning has evolved into different stages of learning, and that becomes the main issue.

No longer are we looking at examinations of people’s characteristics about understanding and learning. Instead, scholars have created learning processes that use materials that support our interactions with others and our goals.

As a result, we can learn new things more smartly and effectively – which will be covered as we proceed further in understanding the learning process.

The Essential Steps of the Learning Process

In his book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell states that the key to success is for us to practice 10,000 hours on a specific skill. It’s also worth noting that the skill needs the correct learning direction. If you’re learning how to do something the wrong way, you’ll continue to use it the wrong way.

But before understanding the learning process, we must understand the stages of learning. Written in the 1970s, Noel Burch created a model called the Four Stages of Learning. [1]

From there, we can use the stages of learning as a basis for how to learn effectively.

1. Unconscious Incompetence

Think of a skill that you are good at and that you use every single day.

Now think back to when you first developed that skill. Were you good at it? Probably not.

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You never heard of the skill or had a desire to learn of it until that point. This is the first stage: You know nothing about it.

2. Conscious Incompetence

Once you have heard of the skill, you begin to delve into it.

Driving a car is a perfect example. Before this stage, you never felt the need to learn how to drive. Nevertheless, once you became of legal age, you had to study to get your license. You likely made several mistakes on the driving test as well as during the written test.

This is the stage where you feel learning is slow, and you’re also aware of your mistakes.

3. Conscious Competence

By this stage, you know pretty much everything you need to know. At the same time, though, you are also aware that you need to focus and concentrate on what you are doing.

This stage can be that you know the rules of the road and can drive well. However, you feel you can’t talk to anyone, play any music, or look away from the road. You feel like you need total silence to focus and concentrate on driving.

At this stage, learning can be even slower than the previous stages. The learning isn’t consistent, nor is it a habit yet.

4. Unconscious Competence

By this stage, you’ve made it. You know everything in and out about the skill. It’s become a habit, and you don’t need to concentrate. You can relax and let your unconscious mind take over.

Exceeding the 4 Stages: Flow/Mastery

While Burch only covered four stages, there is another stage that exceeds it. This is the flow or mastery stage.

You may have heard of something called a flow state. [2] It’s the mental state where someone is performing an activity and is fully immersed in it. They feel energized, focused, and get a sense of joy from doing this activity.

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Flow or mastery can stem from all kinds of activities like Writing, reading, jogging, biking, figure skating, and more. It’s also characterized as complete absorption in what you’re doing, making you unaware of space and time.

Different Types of Learning Process

Another aspect of the learning process is the types of learning. While every person goes through those stages of learning, how we learn is different.

Having covered four learning styles in 4 Learning Styles to Help You Learn Faster and Smarter, I’m recapping the different types of learning in psychology.

Psychiatrists have narrowed how we learn down to seven learning styles as below:

  • Visual (spatial): Learning through pictures, graphs, charts, etc.
  • Aural (auditory-musical): Learning through sound and music.
  • Verbal (linguistic): Learning through spoken or written words.
  • Physical (kinesthetic): Learning through the body, hands, and a sense of touch.
  • Logical (mathematical): Learning through logic, systems, and reasons.
  • Social (interpersonal): Learning through groups or talking to people.
  • Solitary (intrapersonal): Learning individually through self-study or individual assignments.

You may be asking why all of this matters and actually how we learn plays a significant role. How we internally represent experiences stems from how we learn. What we learn not only establishes how we recall information but also impacts our own word choice.

It also influences which part of our brain we use for learning. Researchers uncovered this through various experiments.[3]

For example, say you’re driving to a place you’ve never gone before. How you learn will determine which method of learning you’ll use. Some will ask people for directions, while others will pull up Google maps. Some will write the directions out, while some won’t and merely follow street signs.

Knowing how to learn to this depth is vital because once you know what style you use, you can then develop a learning process to be a more effective learner.

How To Become an Effective Learner?

The learning process varies from person to person. Generally speaking, though, consider the following steps and considerations:

1. Improve Your Memory

Learning doesn’t only require that we learn information, but to retain it. If we are to learn something, we will have to learn and relearn. This means recalling and having a sharp memory to keep that information.

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Improving our memory can range from a variety of things. From memory palaces to practicing other memory improvement tactics.

2. Keep Learning and Practicing New Things

Learning a new skill takes time, but there is nothing wrong with learning a few other things. International Journal of Science – Nature: Changes in grey matter induced by training[4] reported that those who juggled between learning different topics increase their gray matter which is associated with visual memory

3. Learn in Many Ways

While we have our own go-to style, delving into other types and stages of learning can be useful. If you learn by listening to podcasts, why not try rehearsing information verbally or visually?

It will not start great, but by improving your skill to describe what you learned orally, you are further cementing the knowledge in your mind.

Judy Willis MD, M.Ed in her publication on Review of Research: Brain-Based Teaching Strategies for Improving Students’ Memory, Learning, and Test-Taking Success[5] states how the more regions we keep data stored, the more interconnection there is in the collection information that we later process.

4. Teaching What You Learned to Others

It doesn’t have to be in a tutoring situation, but this method is still a reliable way for two people to grow.

Regardless of learning styles, we retain the information we tell others more effectively than if we keep it to ourselves. Was there a random fact you told someone a few months ago? You are more likely to remember that information because you brought it up to someone.

5. Use Relational Learning

Relational learning is relating new information to things you already know.

A typical example of this is remembering someone’s name. You can better recall that person’s name if you associate that name to something or someone familiar.

6. Gaining Practical Experience

Nothing beats learning than trying it for yourself. Sure, seeing information does have its strong points -and most learning styles benefit from exposed information – there is something to be said about getting your “hands dirty.”

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7. Refer Back to past Info If Need Be

The learning process is not perfect. We’ll forget at certain points. If you ever struggle to remember something, make a point of going back to your notes.

This is key because if we try recalling, we risk ourselves learning or relearning the wrong answer. And again, there is a difference between learning the right way and the wrong way.

8. Test Yourself

While this step may seem odd, there are benefits to testing yourself. Even if you think you know everything about the topic, going back and testing yourself can always help.

Not only does testing improve our recall, but we may realize that we learned a concept or task incorrectly. That knowledge can enhance our effectiveness in the future.

9. Stop Multitasking

While we should be learning new things all the time, we shouldn’t be trying to do several tasks at once. We ought to focus on one activity at a time before moving onto other tasks.

By trying to multitask, we are learning less effectively and are only hindering ourselves. Check out how multitasking is merely another way of distracting ourselves.

Bottom Line

Psychologists define learning as the process of a permanent change in a person’s behavior resulting from experience. The understanding of the learning process is up to us, but do consider the bigger picture. Be aware of what style works best for you, and work to improve it while enhancing other learning styles. The only way we can advance a skill is to learn continuously. Even in the skills you have mastered, there are always new developments.

You can learn more about how you can cultivate lifelong learning and attain an edge in every niche that you get associated with today!

Featured photo credit: Aliis Sinisalu via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Gordon Training International: The Four Stages of Competence
[2] Habits for Wellbeing: Flow: the Secret to Happiness: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
[3] Training Industry: How the Brain Learns
[4] International Journal of Science – Nature: Changes in grey matter induced by training
[5] Judy Willis MD, M.Ed: Review of Research: Brain-Based Teaching Strategies for Improving Students’ Memory, Learning, and Test-Taking Success

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