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Last Updated on January 29, 2021

Find out How to Study Effectively With These 6 Tips

Find out How to Study Effectively With These 6 Tips

Learning is a lifelong endeavor and one that we can all hopefully learn to enjoy. One way to boost learning is through effective study techniques and habits. Once you learn how to study effectively, learning will get significantly easier, both in the classroom and out.

There are several study habits that are pivotal to know in order to study effectively. These techniques could be the deciding factor as to whether you pass or fail or, more importantly, learn. These 6 techniques will help you learn how to study effectively.

1. Take Notes

In order to study, a person is required to understand what he or she is learning. A great way of understanding/learning is by making notes of the content you are reading or hearing[1]

Note-taking may include making linear notes, diagrams, charts, flash cards, etc. These are all crucial when it comes to retrieval practice, which trains you to recall the correct information in the long-term.

The key to taking notes when learning how to study effectively is limiting your notes to the most important and complex information, and making it all as simple as possible. Trying to write down everything you hear is a recipe for disaster, as you will simply become overwhelmed when looking back at what you’ve written for spaced practice.

An exceptional note-making style is using summaries. Summaries are a written record of all the important points in a short and concise version. They’re an excellent study technique for when an exam is fast approaching. However, if this doesn’t work for the subject matter, or if you’re more creative, try mapping instead[2].

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Use mind mapping when learning how to study effectively.

    2. Practice

    Studying is meant to enable you to apply your learned knowledge to real life situations, so if you want to learn how to study effectively, focus on practice.

    The best way to study is by practicing with realistic examples and questions. As one TED article points out, “Practice is the repetition of an action with the goal of improvement, and it helps us perform with more ease, speed, and confidence”[3].

    For example, if you have a big interview coming up, how will you prepare for it? You’ll likely study types of questions typically asked in interviews. The most effective next step would be finding a friend to do a mock-interview with you. One article points out that “a mock interview helps you learn how to answer difficult questions, develop interview strategies, improve your communication skills, and reduce your stress before an actual job interview”[4].

    Placing yourself in these kinds of practice testing situations will help you recreate the emotions you’ll likely feel in the actual situation, so you won’t be taken off guard when the time comes.

    3. Improve Your Study Area

    Often enough, we study in a place that we feel comfortable in, but this has both pros and cons. Make sure that the room you’re studying in is not too cold or too warm. A cold room will make you feel uneasy, whereas an overly warm room will make you feel lethargic and sleepy.

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    Ensure that it’s not in an area with a lot of traffic that will work to distract you. If there is a lot of distracting background noise, consider putting on some relaxing music to drown it out[5].

    Furthermore, ensure that your study space is free of clutter. Research shows that clutter significantly increases chances of procrastination[6]. Other studies have suggested that having excess clutter can increase stress and levels of cortisol. Therefore, if you really want a productive study hour, make sure your workspace is clean first.

    4. Eliminate Distractions

    You may need to decipher between a distraction and an interruption when learning how to study effectively. A distraction can come in the form of open social media pages or a crying child, whereas an interruption can be anything from a phone ringing to an unexpected visitor showing up.

    While interruptions are nearly impossible to control, it is possible to eliminate the majority of distractions for certain periods of time. Choose a time when you’re alone or it’s quiet enough for you to study. It takes a lot of concentration to study properly, and there’s no guarantee that you can focus again once your train of thought is disturbed.

    If you have to use your computer to study, close out of all social media pages. If you have small children, ask your partner to keep them occupied in the meantime. There is often a solution for the distractions that each of us have to deal with in life, so get creative with your study techniques.

    5. Set Goals

    In order to make progress with your study techniques when learning how to study effectively, it’s great if you set mini goals or objectives for yourself. Set out an allocated amount of work you want to complete for a day and make sure you do it.

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    Every time you accomplish a mini goal, reward yourself with some free time. This will assure that you’re properly motivated and certainly won’t suffer from a burn out from over-studying.

    You can learn more about setting good goals here:

    Deadlines can be hugely helpful in motivating us to get things done. One study suggests that “as we approach a deadline, or get near to completing a task, this has the effect of reducing ‘opportunity costs’ – essentially, the lure of all the other things you could be doing instead”[7].

    If you know you have a big exam coming up in a day or two, make a deadline for yourself as a study technique. For example, tell yourself: “I will read these three chapters before 10 pm tonight.” You can even set a reward for when you complete your goal on time.

    You can read more on creating effective deadlines in this article.

    6. Follow a Healthy Routine

    When learning how to study effectively and utilize various learning techniques, a healthy routine is important to your success. Your body needs to brace itself for intense studying, which is why you should get at least eight hours of sleep, keeping in mind that the amount of time you sleep before midnight counts the most.

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    Have a proper diet, including not living off energy drinks or takeout. A proper diet consists of 3 to 5 meals a day with average portions. If you need energy, opt for whole grains instead of processed grains to ensure your body is able to slowly process the food, offering consistent energy for the study session ahead.

    The greatest obstacle to face is having a balanced lifestyle, as studying is very time and energy consuming, which is why an overall healthy lifestyle is highly recommended.

    Final Thoughts

    Whether you’re using studying methods for a big interview, a final exam, or a certification, learning how to study effectively is crucial to your success. Follow the tips above to ensure that the time you spend studying is time used well.

    More Tips on Studying Effectively

    Featured photo credit: Windows via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Leon Ho

    Founder & CEO of Lifehack

    Your Night Routine Guide to Sleeping Better & Waking Up Productive 74 Healthy Habits That Will Drastically Improve Every Aspect of Your Life 7 Tips for Overcoming Challenges in Life Like a Pro How to Get Motivated Every Day When You Wake Up How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them

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    1 How To Ask the Right Questions For Effective Learning 2 9 Steps to Make Self-Regulated Learning More Effective 3 How To Find Motivation To Learn Anything Outside of Comfort Zone 4 How to Take Constructive Criticism Like a Champ 5 How To Apply the Stages Of Learning (With Free Worksheet)

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    Published on April 20, 2021

    How To Ask the Right Questions For Effective Learning

    How To Ask the Right Questions For Effective Learning

    Asking the right questions is basically the magic key to any kind of personal or professional development. Sounds pretty awesome, huh? Unfortunately, many people are afraid to ask questions at all. They often think that they look stupid if they ask too many questions.

    Well, funny enough, it’s impossible to move forward without asking questions. How are you supposed to learn anything new if you’re never wondering, “how can I do that?” or “what is required to achieve my desired result?”

    But it’s not only about asking others. You must also master the art of asking yourself the right questions. Yes, you read that right. The kind of questions you ask yourself can have a huge impact on your results. And they can, in fact, make the difference between hitting your goals and not moving forward at all.

    Alright, so in this article, I’ll cover the question (you see what I mean?): how do I ask the right questions for effective learning?

    Why Is Asking the Right Questions Important for Effective Learning?

    Before we look at the “how,” let’s first talk about why it’s so important to ask the right questions for effective learning.

    1. Questions Lead to Answers

    As mentioned before, you can’t learn or move forward without asking questions. Just imagine if you start a new job and you never asked anything at all. Would you ever be able to do a good job?

    Sure, you might be lucky and get all your instructions delivered on a silver platter. But even if that’s the case, what will you do with very specific situations that weren’t covered in the instructions? Or what will you do with constructive criticism from your boss?

    If you just take that and then only do exactly what your boss said without ever questioning what they really meant, will you really be able to improve your work?

    Okay, I think you get the point. You need answers for effective learning and improvement. And the only way to get them is through asking questions.

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    2. Asking the Right Questions Will Help You Be Successful

    Asking the right questions will also significantly improve your chances of being successful.

    Let’s take another example. Let’s say you want to build your own business. How do you start? That’s right—that’s the first good question to ask yourself. After that, a lot of your success depends on what you’re asking yourself and others.

    Now, let’s compare two kinds of questions. Let’s say you get stuck in your business building process. You could ask yourself: “why doesn’t this work for me?” Or you could ask yourself “how can I make this work for me?”

    Do you see the difference? The second question is an empowering one that will guide you to success. Of course, you need to be relentless and motivated to actually find a solution. But simply asking yourself this kind of question will significantly improve your chances for success.

    The first question, on the other hand, is a rather disempowering one. It puts you in a victim role where you feel sorry for yourself rather than in a position to look for a solution. And have you ever seen someone who’s victimizing themself be successful? I sure haven’t!

    3. Communication Is Key for Improvement

    Now, let’s quickly look at another important aspect regarding questions addressed to other people.

    Good communication is essential for improvement, good relationships, and success. And that can literally be applied to any kind of situation. Be it your job, your business, your marriage, or with your friends, good communication is the foundation for healthy relationships.

    Effective communication requires active listening more than anything else. But what does that mean?

    It means to ask questions and then actually listen to what the other person has to say. This will not only help you improve your relationship with other people—and, therefore, help you move forward in your professional and personal life—but it will also help you gain a lot of knowledge, which is undoubtedly the most effective kind of learning.

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    People love to talk about themselves. So, you only need to find people who have the answers to your questions and then listen in an active way. And boom, you probably just shortened your learning curve by 50%.

    What Is Effective Learning?

    Okay, I’d like to quickly touch on one more important thing before we talk about how you can ask the right questions. And that is, “what is effective learning?”

    Contrary to common belief, we don’t stop learning after college. In school, we’re basically forced to learn certain topics. But it’s actually after this period that the really interesting learning period starts. Once you’re out of school, you can completely choose what things you want to learn yourself, and this is where effective learning really starts

    The best example is laid out in Cal Newport’s book, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. In his book, he explains that the only way you can move forward in today’s economy is to learn hard things at a fast pace. He specifically talks about today’s economy because things are changing faster than ever. You can’t stay stuck with 10-year old technology or you’ll soon be left behind in our fast-paced world.

    So, this is basically what effective learning means—learning hard and relevant things at a fast pace.

    How to Ask the Right Questions for Effective Learning

    Alright, so now that you understand the importance of asking the right questions and what effective learning means, let’s put it all together.

    So, here’s how to ask the right questions for effective learning.

    1. Start by Asking Yourself

    As mentioned before, the most important aspect is to actually start by asking yourself the right kind of questions. Pay attention to always ask empowering questions—meaning, questions that are solution-oriented.

    These are often “how” questions. For instance:

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    • “How can I achieve my goal?”
    • “How can I make a better job?”
    • “How can I best use this resource?”

    Avoid disempowering, victimizing questions. It’s sometimes hard to even detect those because we’re often asking ourselves these kinds of questions without even noticing.

    This usually happens when we’re frustrated with a situation. These kinds of questions focus on why you’re in such a bad situation and absolutely ignore the possibility of a solution. These are often “why” questions. Here are a few examples:

    • “Why did this happen to me?”
    • “Why is everyone else successful except me?”
    • “Why can’t I be lucky for once?”

    2. Ask the Right People

    Once you’ve managed to ask yourself the right questions, it’s time to focus on what to ask other people. But it’s not only about what to ask. It’s also about whom to address it to.

    To promote effective learning, you need to ask the right people. These are people who have gone before you and who have achieved what you want to achieve. It doesn’t even need to be in person. Reading their books and wondering “what made them successful?” is a great way to start. If you can, totally opt in for asking those people in person, though. These can become your mentors or role models who will make effective learning significantly easier.

    To find the right people to ask, first determine your goal for this conversation. What do you want to learn? What do you want to achieve with that knowledge? Then, find people who have already achieved that.

    3. Ask Open-Ended Questions

    Once you have found the right people, it’s important to also phrase your questions the right way. That means asking open-ended questions.

    As mentioned before, people love talking about themselves and their achievements. And by asking open-ended questions, you allow them to share as much as possible. This is especially great to start a conversation as it will get you a lot of information right from the get-go. Later down the road, you can ask more specific questions to get the amount of detail you need.

    Great open-ended questions are: “how did you achieve (a milestone)?”; “what are the best tools to be successful?” “what helped you be so successful?”

    Make sure to enter your specific goal or their success in those questions. For instance, you could ask your boss, “what helped you get promoted after only working for the company for a year?”

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    4. Practice Active Listening

    Active listening is an insanely powerful skill. You can “extract” all of a person’s knowledge simply by listening and asking more open-ended questions that allow them to share even more of their experience and knowledge.

    Practice it with your friends or spouse. Set an intention of just listening for 10 minutes. During this time, only ask questions that allow them to talk about themselves. Don’t interrupt them and only ask deeper questions after they finished answering.

    After that, think about how much you just learned about the other person. Plus, you probably made the other person feel really good and flattered. This in turn will make it easier to get even more answers from them in the future.

    Once you feel comfortable, try this with one of your mentors. Believe me, they’ll love you for it, and you’ll get your answers much faster that way.

    5. Focus on the Solution

    One last point: always focus on the solution when asking any kind of question. This goes for asking yourself but also when asking other people.

    Your subconscious will automatically guide you towards what you’re focusing on.[1] If you’re focusing on the risks or on what could go wrong, guess where you’ll end up? Right there!

    If you focus on solutions and see struggles as opportunities to learn more, you’ll always end up finding solutions for any kind of problem or issue. So, asking the right questions is all about being solution-oriented and focusing on the opportunities rather than the risks.

    Conclusion

    Asking the right questions is not only essential for effective learning—aka learning hard things at a fast pace—but it’s also key to improving in any personal or professional area of your life.

    There are two important aspects of asking the right questions. The first is about what kind of questions you ask yourself. Make sure to keep them empowering and solution-oriented. This will help guide you to success instead of keeping you stuck with a problem.

    The second aspect is to ask the right kind of people to get answers that will help you achieve your goals. Make sure to find people who have gone before you. Then, ask them open-ended questions and practice active listening to learn as much as possible from them.

    More Tips on Asking Questions

    Featured photo credit: Product School via unsplash.com

    Reference

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