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7 Things Smart Learners Do Differently

7 Things Smart Learners Do Differently
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All people were born with great gifts, talents and potential, including you. What makes a real difference in reaching your potential is the ability to be a smart learner. See what smart learners do differently and what they can teach us.

They always learn.

People often divide their time between learning and non-learning. Learning is usually much more focused, dedicated time. Even our education systems are built around that concept — first we learn for several years, and then we work. Smart learners do it differently. They use every occasion to learn something new — about the food they eat, the way things work, different cultures, different roles in the same organization, history, and the people around them. The world is a great source of knowledge and skills, available 24/7, so they ask tons of questions and connect the dots.

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They are good observers.

Walking or driving the same route hundreds of times does not guarantee that you will learn about all the buildings and other interesting things on the way. To do it, you have to look at the world with curiosity. Smart learners focus on the here and now, ready to observe the changes and the world surrounding them. They don’t have to talk much; they will instead ask questions.

They make mistakes.

Most people have a great fear of failure. It seems better not to do something rather than make a mistake. Smart learners exchange the word “mistake” with “lesson.” There is no better way to learn something than simply trying it, so experiment and observe. If one way didn’t work, try another one. Of course, sometimes many lessons have to be taken before something is mastered. As Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”

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They don’t give up too early.

With great fear of failure comes giving up too early. Today, we are tempted to try new things just a few times and then resign. When we can’t master something quickly, why bother? However, turn back time and imagine yourself as a child learning how to walk. How many times did you fall down in that process? Probably hundreds! Now you possess that great skill without thinking about it, but what would have happened if you had given up too early? Learning takes time and falling down often — smart learners understand that.

They connect with smart people.

The world is a big network of connections. Some of them are better quality than others, and your time on this planet is limited. Smart learners understand that they need high quality connections — people around them who will inspire them, shake their worlds, and ask good and deep questions. We learn best when we are relaxed and have a real friend and mentor around.

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They try new things.

To be able to learn, our brain needs stimulation and then a good rest. Just look at how a small child explores the world, looks at everything with curiosity, then tries to put the pieces together and checks the taste. Later, the child “sleeps like a baby!” Smart learners possess that spark of curiosity and often try something new. Take part in some workshops or online courses, watch TED, and meet new people. They do some things differently and it keeps them from being bored.

They don’t think they are smart.

Smart learners don’t talk much. The knowledge and skills they have are not merely to impress others, but comes from their inner passion. They are humble enough to acknowledge how much they don’t know, and at the same time they feel good about and are energized by that. When they don’t know they don’t pretend to; they simply ask questions.

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We all waste so much of our potential by not learning smart enough. Let us take the right lesson from smart learners. You life will definitely be more creative, happy, relaxed and full of passion.

Is there anything you learned from smart learners? Feel free to comment!

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More by this author

Piotr Nabielec

Author, CEO, Consultant

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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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