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23 Tricks To Learn Anything Better

23 Tricks To Learn Anything Better

For the original unedited article, visit Greatist.

Learning hacks — they’re a thing, and while the college kids are heading back to school, it’s a good time for all of us to rethink the ways we learn. Student, professional, or parent, we’re all learning every day — whether it’s how to play guitar, use new software, raise a child, or poach an egg, the mind is always soaking up new information. Make it easier with the following tips.

PRIME YOUR MIND — CREATING HABITS THAT OPTIMIZE LEARNING

With a little regular maintenance, the mind can become razor-sharp and ready to tackle any challenge and absorb new information. Keep the brain in tip-top shape by making regular habits out of the following activities.

1. Work Out

Lifting weights and doing cardio carry a host of physical benefits (see: almost everything on this site), but turns out exercise can also improve learning and memory. If your thoughts are muddled, try taking a brisk walk or heading to the gym. One study found that memory and cognitive processing (the ability to think clearly) improved after a single 15-minute exercise session.

2. Meditate

Regularly getting your om on isn’t just great for managing stress, it also improves memory, impulse control, and attention span.

3. Eat Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids

PUFAs (particularly omega-3 fatty acids) are crucial for brain function and help control the brain’s learning and memory centers. Salmon is a famously terrific source of omega-3s, but other fish, such as herring and mackerel, contain a similar amount. Meat-free sources of PUFAs include walnuts, peanuts, and chia and pumpkin seeds.

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4. Sleep

When the crunch is on, people often sacrifice their Zzs in favor of more time to work or study. But the extra smidge of work that gets done isn’t worth the morning zombie eyes: Getting adequate sleep every night is absolutely crucial for brain function, good judgment, reaction time, and even using consistent grammarThe mind of a sensible sleeper will learn much faster, justifying the hours “lost” by getting an early night.

5. Drink Water

This tip might be a no brainer (pun intended), but dehydration is more widespread than you might think — if you’re thirsty, it’s already too late. Reaction times, responsiveness, and overall mental processing improve with hydration, so invest in a BPA-free water bottle and take it absolutely everywhere. Also remember that a lot of common foods, particularly fruits, are surprisingly good sources of water.

 

    6. Practice Yoga

    There’s an easy way to increase your brain’s grey matter: Do yoga. Yogis also report fewer cognitive failures, i.e., errors in perception, memory, and motor function.

    7. Take Up a Hobby

    It’s important to spend some time each day on activities other than work or studying. Not only does the brain need time to take stock of all the learning it’s done, but picking up unrelated hobbies can make you smarter . Try something that requires a lot of concentration and hand-eye coordination: One study found people who took up juggling classes demonstrated an increase in their grey matter (though it disappeared once they quit). That’s one more reason to never stop learning new things.

    8. Set an Agenda

    Success is often tied to the ability to implement structure in one’s life, so it’s a good idea to set goals and create realistic study schedules. By “realistic,” we don’t just mean allocating more than an hour for that 5,000 word report — it’s also important to schedule time to recover between bouts of intense work, whether it’s learning new software or how to drive stick. Scheduling in relaxation time for the brain is called “the spacing effect,” and it’s known to improve long-term recall.

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    9. Laugh

    Allocating time to relax is important to avoid burnout, but it’s even better to do so with people who make you giggle. The simple act of laughter has been shown to help with problem solving and creativity. Funny, right?

    10. Check Your Motivation

    Ask, the question, “Why am I learning this?” People learn better if information seems useful to them, and particularly if they believe it can have an impact on their community. Choose a course, hobby, or career (gulp) that’s important to you and gets you excited.

    LEARNING TO LEARN — HOW TO PRACTICE AND STUDY RIGHT

    Now that you’re ready to focus on learning new skills or information, try to be mindful of the following tips.

      11. Warm Up Your Brain

      Have a little fun before you begin work: Try mentally “warming up” for your brain workout with rhyming games or by uttering nonsense words. It’ll help you loosen up and become more receptive to learning. Sounds like a great excuse to finally take those scat lessons.

      12. Find a Friend

      If keeping yourself on task is an uphill battle, trying asking someone to join you. Learning in groups (be it a class, book club, or with a buddy) could be a good idea to help maintain focus and add some accountability to the process.

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      13. Check Your Surroundings

      The right learning environment is paramount. In general, it should be clean and quiet, but it’s also a great idea to add some novelty: Try working in a park, a café, or even just a different room in your home. Avoid lying in bed, though — while a study area should be comfortable, the bed is psychologically associated with sleep and relaxation. You’ll concentrate better elsewhere.

      14. Develop Metacognition

      This is the overarching theme in most literature about improving the learning process, and has been studied by teachers since Aristotle was lecturing in the 4th century, BC. The concept of metacognition emphasizes not just understanding material, but understanding how you understand it. Learn to step back from your first impression, question your own knowledge, and evaluate whether and how you’re digesting new material. Sometimes this is as simple as not reading so fast when the language is difficult, or developing a new system for taking notes. Most simply, metacognition is about being reflective about the learning process and making adjustments as needed.

      15. Do One Thing At a Time

      The ability to multitask might be lauded as an invaluable trait, but switching back and forth between tasks has been shown to increase the time it takes to complete them. Try to embody a different strength: single-mindedness.

      16. Don’t Be Afraid to Fail

      A group study in Singapore found that people who tried to solve difficult math problems without any instruction or help were more likely to fail — but in the process, they came up with a lot of ideas about the nature of the problems and what solutions might look like, which helped them perform better with similar problems later on. This phenomenon is called “productive failure.” While it’s akin to the frustrating process of trial and error, it keeps the mind creative and flexible.

        17. Test Yourself

        Don’t wait until the week of the exam or the big piano recital — self-test regularly, or (even better) have a classmate or friend ask the questions. If it’s difficult to remember the answer fairly quickly, it’s best to look it up. Otherwise, you’re really learning the “error state” of drawing a blank when asked the question. While “productive failure” (see: #16) is useful for problem solving, repeatedly failing to recall something that requires rote memorization (e.g. History or Law) won’t improve your learning abilities.

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        18. Always Be Compressing (ABC)

        This was a cornerstone of Tim Ferriss’ bestselling guide to learning quickly, The 4 Hour Chef. Try as hard as possible to fit all of the necessary information into an easy one- or two- pager by using mnemonic devices like acronyms or rhymes. Better yet, try turning information into an image, such as a graphic, chart, or mind map.Visualizing knowledge in different ways helps to give it a stronger representation in your mind.

        19. Conditionalize the Information

        In other words, study up on the broader applications of whatever you’re learning (i.e., figure out why it matters). Textbooks (and bad teachers) often present facts and formulae without giving any attention to helping students learn the conditions under which they’re most useful. Working to understand when, where, and why the knowledge is important will help to solidify it in your mind.

        20. Use Multiple Media

        The more ways you experience information, the more likely you are to retain it. Different media activate different areas of the mind, and we recall things more quickly and retain knowledge better when multiple parts of the brain are working in concert. Try reading, listening to a podcast, watching YouTube videos, saying material out loud, and writing about it by hand (just not all at the same time)

        21. Connect With Existing Knowledge

        If you can tie what you’re learning to something you’ve learned before, it helps toimprove recall speed and promote new learning. For instance, if you’re learning about Macbeth, it might help to link the play with your knowledge of Shakespeare, Scotland, the Middle Ages, or your favorite Olsen twins movie, Double, Double, Toil and Trouble. Embed your studies within as much of your brain’s existing framework as possible.

        22. Establish Consequences

        A lot of people fall short of their goals because there are no ramifications if they quit.Remedy the issue by committing to negative incentives (such as doing your roommate’s laundry for a month) should you fail to stick with your goals. Or, sign up for StickK, an online service that holds money in escrow and donates it to an “anti-charity” of your choice if your goal isn’t met (think donating to the Democratic Party if you’re a Republican, the NRA if you’re anti-gun, etc.)

        23. Be Confident

        Lastly, be confident and know that you’ll do great. Not just because it’s the truth, but because simply believing in one’s intelligence has been shown to improve it. Don’t worry about a thing, friend. You’ve got this.

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        Last Updated on January 24, 2020

        10 Good Habits To Have in Life To Be More Successful

        10 Good Habits To Have in Life To Be More Successful

        Habits are behaviors and patterns that you showcase by default. They enable you to carry out crucial activities like taking a shower, brushing your teeth, getting prepared for work.

        Interestingly, you follow this routine every day without considering them. Your unconscious habits create room for your brain to perform more advanced activities like problem-solving and choosing what book to read.

        Everyone has habits, and several of those habits are activated every day. I would classify them into three groups:

        • The first category includes the habits that you hardly notice as they have become a major part of your life- such as brushing teeth or wearing clothes.
        • The second category comprises good habits to have to be more successful-like eating healthily, exercising your body and reading books.
        • The last group consists of those habits that are harmful-like procrastinating, smoking or overeating.

        Habits are fundamental to becoming successful in life — or probably ending up a failure. Yet, as significant as habits are, some lack the knowledge of their capabilities.

        Habits are default activities that you engage in without giving an afterthought. They are automatic behavioral or mental activities. They help you carry out some actions without exerting too much energy. They simplify your life.

        Several people aspire to break bad habits. For instance, some people diet to stop overeating. They exercise to reduce obesity. Habits can hinder or impact your performance and productivity.

        That’s why I would share 10 good habits to have to be more successful in life.

        1. Begin Your Day with Meditation

        I recommend mindful meditation early in the morning. This practice helps you to be in the present moment. Consequently, it enables you to be mindful of challenging situations during the day.

        Different stressors may trigger as you go through the day; meditation helps you to remain calm before taking on the challenges.

        Personally, it helps me to devise strategies and think about ideas. Meditation is a good habit to have if you want to be connected to what’s significant in your life.

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        2. Be Grateful for What You Have

        Sometimes, you waste time thinking of what’s not enough. You become immersed in those daunting challenges. However, challenges justify the presence of hope. When you have life, you have expectations. You will be free from challenges when you are six feet under. The only strategy you have to stop focusing on your problems is to focus on what you have.

        Gratitude is a time-tested pathway to success, health, and happiness. It redirects your focus to what you have from what you lack. Here’s what James Clear does every day,[1]

        “I say one thing I’m grateful for each day when I sit down to eat dinner.”

        3. Smile

        Can you pause and smile before you continue reading this?

        Now here is what just happened based on research conducted by the Association for Psychological Science; you set a pace for living a happier life when you smile. A genuine smile or what’s called a Duchenne smile is a good habit to have if you want to find spiritual, emotional and mental peace of mind.[2]

        Smiling induces the release of molecules that function towards fighting stress. The physiological state of your body determines the state of your mind. When you slouch or frown, your mind takes cues relating to unhappiness and depression. But, once you adjust yourself by putting up a smile, you begin to feel a new level of excitement and vibrancy.

        Can you smile again?

        4. Start Your Day with a Healthy Breakfast

        Starting your day with a healthy breakfast is a good habit to have and forms a crucial part of your life. Nevertheless, about 31 million Americans skip their breakfast each day.[3]

        If you are fed up hearing that breakfast is a crucial component of your day, you are only fighting the truth. If you want to become more successful, you need to ‘break your fast’ with healthy foods every morning.

        This habit is not difficult to form if you usually rush out the door every single morning. You can wake up earlier to fix yourself a meal so you don’t break down during the day.

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        Get inspired by these 20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time.

        5. Exercise Daily

        One of the good habits to have is to exercise your body and muscles every day. You don’t have to run a marathon or lift a weight. You only need to engage in less strenuous activities that oxygenate your blood and inject endorphins in your body.

        Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, classified exercise as a good habit to maximize his already jam-packed schedule.[4] He said,

        ‘I wake up by 5, meditate for 30 minutes, seven-minute workout times three, make coffee, and check-in.’

        He said on Product Hunt that he follows this routine every day as it gives him a steady-state that empowers him to be more productive.

        6. Manage Your Time as You Manage Your Finance

        Another good habit is the act of managing your time effectively. This goes a long way to impact your achievement.

        Time management is what separates the successful from the rest of the world as we all possess the same amount of time. How you leverage time determines your potential to succeed in life.

        So how do you manage your time effectively?

        Here’s Jack Dorsey’s recommendation in one of the Techonomy events;

        “I accomplish effective time management by theming my days and practicing self-discipline. These themes help me handle distractions and interactions. If a request or task does not align with the theme for that day, I don’t do it. This sets a cadence for everyone in the company to deliver and evaluate their progress”.

        And this is Dorsey’s weekly theme:[5]

        • Monday – Management
        • Tuesdays – Product
        • Wednesday – Marketing and growth
        • Thursdays – Developers and partnerships
        • Fridays – Culture and recruiting
        • Saturdays – Taking off
        • Sundays – Reflection, feedback, strategy, and preparing for Monday

        No wonder he was able to run two companies when others were struggling with one job.

        7. Set Daily Goals with Intentions

        Everyone has goals. It may relate to business or personal life. The truth is, we’re all tending towards a particular direction or another. Nevertheless, while long-term goals can offer you direction, it’s your daily goals that you establish that help you develop short-term goals that are essential for your success.

        Long-term goals may not give you the motivation you need to keep on. But when you implement your short-term milestones daily, you become fired up, and you can overcome the challenges that come with taking on bigger tasks.

        Here’s the main truth:Successful people don’t set goals without establishing their intentions. According to Jennifer Cohen of Forbes,[6]

        “What helps you to achieve your desired expectation is ensuring intentions accompany your daily goals.”

        Be intentional about your daily goals!

        8. Seek Inspiration

        It is usually difficult to be inspired for a considerable length of time. Sometimes, you become discouraged and feel like giving up on your goals when things are not working out as intended.

        A practical approach to stay on top of the situation is to inspire yourself each day. When you wake up in the morning after meditation, watch some motivational videos, and let the story of great leaders inspire you.

        Establish what Anthony Robbins called the ‘hour of power.’ Determine how many minutes you spend but make it count. Inspiration is the fuel for achievement because when you can conceive it in your mind, you can accomplish it.

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        Michal Solowow, an investor and the founder of Mitex, a construction company puts it this way,[7]

        “The problems I encounter in everyday life motivates me to find solutions. This is a self-propelling mechanism. becoming a billionaire was never a motivating factor.”

        9. Save Steadily, Invest with All Prudence

        I can exhaust the good habits to have without talking about saving and investing. Most times, you overlook the significance of saving for the future when you are living in your present moment. According to CNBC, a $1000 emergency will propel several Americans into debt.[8]

        However, it is not enough to save, and you must invest your fund and be wise with it. If you pay attention to this now, you will set yourself for a life of success in the future. Ensure you save at least six months in your emergency account so you can be prepared for any future emergency.

        10. Budget and Track Your Spendings

        Benjamin Franklin warned of taking the precaution of little expenses. He said,

        “A small leak sinks a great ship.”

        It is easy to discard little expenses, but the truth is they always add up. This happens when you fail to budget.

        Budgeting is a good habit to have, which can impact your financial life significantly. The money you spend on extravagant lifestyles can be saved and invested in your future.

        The Bottom Line

        Endeavor to cultivate these good habits to have to become more successful as you journey through life. The quicker you cultivate them, the faster you achieve your goals.

        More About Habits

        Featured photo credit: Andrijana Bozic via unsplash.com

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        Reference

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