Learning doesn't have to be a slow and painful process. There are things we can all do to get information settled where we want it to go quicker than you may have thought possible. Here are 12 ways to accelerate the learning process.
1. Jump the Pain Barrier
Learning usually follows four stages. Stage 1 is referred to as unconscious incompetence. That's where you know so little about a new thing that you don't even know what you don't know yet!
Stage 2 is conscious incompetence. This is where you realise that you don't know anything. You're new to the subject matter, it seems vast and you realise just how far you have to go. This is usually where most people get overwhelmed and learning grinds to a halt just before you start to get it.
Stage 3 is conscious competence. You're just beginning to get it. Baby steps and stumbles, but yes... it's starting to click.
Stage 4 is unconscious competence. The knowledge is yours. You know it inside out and your learning is automatically available to you in a state of blissful and flowing availability.
Here's how to get through the painful stage, so you can progress to the state of pure knowing. Ignore it. That's all. Everyone has to crawl through stage 2, but if you dwell on it, you'll get stuck. So just skip through it and know that eventually it will all make sense.
If you can drive a car you'll remember the painful stage where you feel there's too much to do at once to get the thing moving and manoeuvre it about, but I bet you don't even think about it now. You just get in and go, without even thinking about it. It's the same with all learning.
2. Prospector Power
Look for gold. By focusing on what interests you and keeping in mind why you want to learn this you can skip the mental strain of thinking about how much you don't know yet. Focus on the nuggets and leave the rest.
3. Spider Strategies
Make sketches and mind webs of key concepts, your brain loves to make connections by looking for what fits with what. Mind Maps are a great way to accelerate comprehension and boost recall by stringing things together. It's amazing how much information you can get on a single page with this method and how much you can remember when you look back over it.
4. Follow Your Finger
When reading, run your finger under lines of text to help your eyes follow the words quickly and smoothly, your brain can take them in quicker than you can mentally speak them to yourself.
5. Questions, Questions
Ask yourself questions at every stage. What do you want to get from this reading session? What do you need to know? What do you think the key points are? Ask yourself a couple of key questions and let your mind search out the answers for you as you read. On every page you read, usually only about 10% of the information is vital, questions will help you focus and find the key information quickly.
6. Go to Lectures
Given by yourself! For every study session, speak what you learned. Ideally by sharing it with someone else, or aloud to yourself, in the shower, in the car, or to a recording device so that you can listen back later and be impressed with what you learned.
7. Live What You learn
Knowing is doing. Let your learning be active, find ways of bringing it into your life.
Instead of cramming for hours, commit to active bursts of learning and then take time out to percolate. Maybe take a walk, or sit back with some Mozart playing in the background and let your mind roam around with the information you've just fed it. By giving your mind time to play with new information and mull it over you are allowing your brain to function as a whole unit rather than overtaxing your left hemisphere while the right is left idle. It was good enough for Einstein and his theory of relativity.
9. Pretend You're a Genius
Stress is the biggest stopper on learning. By acting as if you are already knowledgeable about what you're learning you can avoid stress and just get on with getting the facts you crave into your head.
10. Eat for Intelligence
make sure your brain is getting good fuel for learning. Stimulants and sugar may seem to give you a jolt, but the will eventually lead to a sense of fatigue that is useless for learning. Keep hydrated with water, or natural teas (green or red bush are good), and make sure your brain has enough essential fatty acids like those found in nuts and seeds and you will feel more alert and primed to learn efficiently.
11. Set Your State
Half baked learning is slow and painful. So for speed and recall, take a minute or two before you begin to set yourself up. Set out your things and sit up straight, breath deeply down into your stomach, let your eyes drift upwards and visualise your desired outcome for this learning session. It's an investment in knowledge, embrace it and begin...
12. Reflect Before Rest
Research shows that we learn better and faster when we review what we've learned. So before you settle to sleep spend a minute reflecting on what you learned today, you could do this in your head or in a journal. Writing it down is effective as an external recap, but mental acknowledgement is important too. Why not do both? It need only take a couple of minutes and you will find your confidence and speed developing more and more every time you do it.
Alpha Brain Music - music for a balanced brain for study and recall
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