𝐎𝐩𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐢𝐳𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐝𝐮𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐢𝐦𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐜𝐞𝐬𝐬
For whom this article might be interested / useful:
- everybody who is learning or trying to remember anything or struggling with productivity.
I never thought that anybody should learn “how to learn” things and that there are different approaches on how to do that. I thought it was just something that everybody got naturally, like brain and ability to think. But at some point in life, I understood that there are too many things to be learned, so I’ll need more robust approach for learning process. Such information (as well as vitality of my current learning tactics) I found in the book “Learning How to Learn” by Barbara Oakley and will write further how it correlates with real life.
>> 𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐛𝐨𝐨𝐤 𝐦𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐡𝐞𝐥𝐩 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡:
- better learn or remember subjects in university/school, foreign language, people’s names, numbers, terminology, technology, etc., increase productivity and reduce amount of stress related to daily tasks.
>> 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐚𝐢𝐧 𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐚𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐈 𝐭𝐨𝐨𝐤 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐛𝐨𝐨𝐤 & personal experience:
How to remember anything:
- Usually when I was studding in school/university and was preparing for lessons I re-read materials few times and though that I knew them. But when a teacher asked me to answer questions with closed book (usually I had it open in front of my eyes) — then I realized that I actually didn’t know the answers well. The book says that “if you held an open book in front of you it’s illusion that you know, not the real knowledge”. Brain tries to “protect” itself from remembering too many of not needed things. Also, why should he spend energy trying to remember materials if I can read it right from the book? So after you read something that you need to remember: close the book and try to remember and reproduce just read information. Such trick will create neural-connections in the brain and allow you to remember better. I tried it myself and it worked for me;
- As I mentioned, when you learn anything — new neural-connections are created in the brain. But from the beginning they are very weak and brain “cleaning” itself from the weak connections periodically. So to sustain them I was repeating new information periodically with pauses in time. Like with words: if I learned 10 world on Monday I would repeat them on Wednesday, otherwise I would forget most of them very soon;
- Usually sit and learn new things until you remember them— is not a good idea, better to: learn -> then try to repeat -> then pause and again with some time and again until you finally remember it;
- I noticed that if I stuck with task or can’t learn some moves in skiing (let’s take it like example) - I’ll go to sleep instead of wasting a few more hours. Usually in the morning I might have the solution of the problem in my head or my skiing skills might increase. So I recommend to use sleep as an instrument for our brain to structure needed information or work on some hard task on the background;
- I’ve been learning words of foreign languages for a long time and tried many different methods. For now my favorite, most efficient and what was mentioned in the book is: “palace of memory”. This method is used by a lot of attendees of the “World Memory Championships” where people remember crazy amount of random information. This method is based on the two most powerful type of brain memories: associative and navigational. You can read about it in details in the internet or watch some videos but in a nutshell you have to connect a new word with associations and place that associations at some part of the location that you know very well (like your house). This will turn on two types of memory at the same time and make a trick with the brain. For the beginning it might be hard or time consuming to do, but with time it’ll become easier.
How to work on tasks:
- Our brain has two main modes: concentrated and scattered.
“Concentrated” is ON when your focus is fully on the task, it’s very good for using already existing neural-connections in the brain for solving everyday tasks. Most of the time we use this mode.
“Scattered” usually used for creativity and solving issues that require us to think “under another angle”, it turns ON when we are resting/walking/sleeping/doing monotonous activity/etc. That’s why when people stuck on the issue and then go to smoke, brain is not resting at that moment and instead working on the issue in the background. Personally I don’t smoke and use gym, running or swimming for this. You can find whatever is best for you: cleaning, running, walking, meditation, cooking, etc.
You can experiment on this, learn how is better for you to mix these modes and use needed one at the right time.
- Pauses for rest is very important in our everyday work, our productivity and effectiveness for solving the problems depends on them a lot. Here’s an example - when I face some issue and struggle with it for an hour, I have two main options: keep going with the issue for another hour (continue using “concentrated” mode) or make five minutes break to give the brain ability to look for the issue from another side while working on it in the background (use “scattered” mode). I envy a little bit to smokers — they periodically go outside and give rest for the brain and eyes. Till now I haven’t found any habit that will force me to go out periodically like smoking, if you have something in your mind — please let me know :)
- Procrastination: this horrible word of the new age means that you do everything except what you really should do or you are so depressed by amount of work that you can’t even start doing it at all. Solution: aim not on the result of the task but on the process. For example I have to write an article but it’s too big to be written at once, thus I divided it on parts, chose and “booked” half an hour per day and at that time I’ll do my best and write as much as I could. To help with this you can use timer and what is very important — there should be no disturbance from outside world for that time. In such a way you’ll achieve total concentration on the task, your brain won’t think about 10 other tasks that you should do or how big is this task, you brain will think that he just needs to work on this one task for 30 minutes and that’s it. Otherwise there’s a big possibility that instead of doing the task you will surf the web or social media;
- As you might noticed we don’t need to force ourselves to do something what we’re interested in, then let’s use it - Make your tasks interesting for the brain! Like in the university/school: learning should be interesting, teacher can start lecture with question that is interesting for the students and then show how this question is related to the subject that you learn or make some story. Not all the things that I do on my job is what I actually want to do but it’s my choice to be interested in that part, maybe I can optimize it or learn from it something new;
- Planning your day and time is what can really save you when you have an overwhelming amount of tasks. I still struggle with it time to time: I can plan my day even with some reserve of time but it’s still not enough in a constantly changing environment. Maybe following my plan strictly will solve this but then other dependent people might come to harm with that, so it’s very thin balance. Also, if you want to increase productiveness you can limit the time to be spent on the task, this will help your brain to be more concentrated.
- You might be overwhelmed with information and tricks that could be used to reach your particular goals. I chose a few of the most relevant for my situation and started practicing them. And I think that it’s the only “cons”, just find description of the similar situation in the book, choose few advises that is given in the book for it and keep practicing.
Summary: I, as a human being, have a limited amount of time to achieve goals in life and require proper knowledge and skills for this. Therefore, if you have big goals — you have to “hack” learning process and save yourself such precious time and this is when you might need this book. Also, there are a lot of other things worth mentioning, so I encourage you to give this book a try!
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it :)