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5 Common Misconceptions Which Hinder People From Learning Faster

5 Common Misconceptions Which Hinder People From Learning Faster
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So you want to learn another language, HTML coding or marketing? Time dictates that you will have to learn faster and smarter. The only problem is that there are certain misconceptions about learning floating around. Let’s get these out of the way first. We can examine what is wrong with them and look at alternative approaches. Then you will be on the fast track to learn more rapidly and efficiently.

“It isn’t what people don’t know that hurts them. It’s what they do know that just ain’t so.” – Will Rogers

1. There are no shortcuts

Yes, there are! If you think that learning is a long, hard slog, then think again. Whatever your field or area of study, find out who the gurus are and what their advice is to make the learning curve less steep. By consulting the experts, you can find out nifty shortcuts. Did you know that 80% of businesses go to the wall within the first eighteen months? Why? Because most entrepreneurs are not taking product/market fit into account or learning enough about their customers’ needs. A lot of learning needs to take place to reduce that very high figure. One suggestion is to find the top 10 influencers in your industry and then find out what they know and above all, how they went about learning all that knowledge. Find out what books they read and what skills sets they have. Most of them are willing to help and pay it forward. This is an excellent time saver.

As to the actual learning process, you will be able to discover new hacks to get faster results. One study shows that just by doing 15 minutes of physical exercise, you can boost your thinking ability. Get expert advice on memory tips which will help you remember all that new information for longer. Learn to use all the technology and software in your field of study. Practise how to present the information by using mind maps or testing yourself by ‘teaching’ a friend what you have learned. Learn how to put multitasking in its place. No, it does not help you to learn better, most studies show.

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2. Note taking will not really help

Let us imagine you have to get through a ton of reading to complete your MBA or university degree course. Students mistakenly think that taking notes will be a waste of time. But notes are useful. They help you to clarify your thoughts and they are great for revising. If you read in small chunks, they are great for helping you master the concepts and facts. They help you engage with the subject matter and that is an essential part of the learning process.

3. Time management is overestimated

If students feel that they will study best when the mood takes them, they are under exploiting their best resource, time. Once you start to manage your learning time, you are on the road to success. You can establish whether you learn better in the morning or the evening. How long can you study productively? Build in breaks for physical activity and healthy snacks. You will need to dedicate chunks of time to study so that no time is wasted and you will avoid terrible cramming and maybe even resorting to stimulants, which is illegal anyway. Cramming occurs because of poor time management. Stuffing your brain with masses of information is the surest way to forget it!

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 4. Studying grammar and vocabulary is the best way to learn a language

Some teachers and students still pursue the mistaken idea that grammatical knowledge plus mastery of vocabulary will get you proficient in French or German in no time! The research simply does not support this at all. Stephen Krashen is a distinguished linguist and he has always advocated that the most efficient way to acquire language is to understand messages from people’s conversations and what we read. He defines this as “comprehensible input.” Watch him in this 3 minute video where he gives a practical demonstration of his theory.

5. Everyone learns with a different learning style

For many years, teachers have been convinced that learners have a preferential learning style, for example if they are more visual, auditory or kinaesthetic (learning through doing). But there is very little research to actually demonstrate that this is true. But about 90% of UK teachers still believe this is the case. There are still unanswered questions about how people really learn and there are moves to help teachers understand neuroscience in finding these answers. The best solution is for students to discover what gives them the fastest results and helps them climb the learning curve in the shortest space of time.

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The next time somebody asks you about which side of the brain you are using for learning, you could ask them to give you solid scientific evidence that this will affect the learning outcome. At the end of the day, learning is much more straightforward than many people like to think.

Featured photo credit: Learn/Got Credit via flickr.com

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More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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