The faster you learn these days, the more adaptable you’ll be to this fast-paced world we live in. If you’re a student, learning effectively and retaining most of the information you learn is great for your final grades. If you’re a businessperson, learning new business and marketing trends will help you to compete effectively. And if you’re a job seeker or employee, learning fast is almost part of your job description. The world won’t stop for you, so you have to do your job and learn tons of new information and skills to keep up with it. That’s why you should try these proven tips to learn faster and more effectively.
1. Write all important notes on paper with a pen
Most professors dictate notes or give lectures at a fast pace, forcing many learners to type notes on their laptops, smartphones, or tablets. Pen and paper are being phased out by new technologies, because who has the time for old-fashioned note-taking methods, right? Well, you’ll be surprised to learn that taking notes faster doesn’t necessarily mean you’re learning faster. Writing notes slowly using a pen and paper allows your brain enough time to process new information and retain most of it during your first encounter. Curriculum developers from around the world agree that, while cumbersome, the process of taking notes by hand forces the learner’s brain to reframe new information in its own way, so you retain most of the information in the process, as opposed to when you transfer information verbatim to a computer.
Many people think multitasking is an indispensable skill to possess for those people who have to accomplish many tasks on a time crunch. Well, that statement isn’t as factual as you’d imagine. Recent studies show that multitasking is distractive and only ends up slowing you down. Reading a book and cooking at the same time, for example, divides your attention and can easily lead to failure in both tasks. To learn faster, dedicate time to the learning process and focus on learning one topic at a time. Get rid of anything that could distract your thought or reading process. After all, you’re only human, and humans have limitations on their cognitive capacity.
3. Articulate information out loud
This is one of the surest ways to convert new information to long-term memory. When you say a word and deliberately listen and scrutinize it, your mind is able to actively engage with that word long after you’re done studying. Hearing your own voice articulate sophisticated concepts without referring to any external source opens up your memory to higher retention. Your mind accesses information quickly and readily when the information is relayed through your own voice.
4. Focus on short-term goals first
When you’re learning something new, it’s important to understand the basics before becoming an expert. For example, if you aspire to be a life coach, you would want to complete a life coaching course to learn new coaching techniques, get the latest industry updates, and ask the right questions before pursuing your Life Coach Certification. Of course, such certification is your end goal, but it shouldn’t occupy too much space in your mind right now. First focus on mastering the skills, then worry about certification once you’re qualified.
5. Get plenty of sleep
Preparing for a big presentation shouldn’t call for spending long hours cramming new content the night before if it means sacrificing sleep. The human brain doesn’t process new information as effectively under pressure and fatiguing yourself won’t help you in the long run. Research shows that learners who relax and sleep sufficiently every day have a better memory than those who study through the night. What’s more, sleeping within 12 hours of an intense study session has been proven to bolster how your brain internalizes and memorizes new information.
Related: So You Think You Can Study?
Whether you have a major presentation or a career-defining exam, these five tips will help you learn faster and retain more information. Learning can be frustrating sometimes, but that’s not a good enough reason to give up. Keep pushing your limits and taking good care of your physical and mental health, and everything will naturally fall into place.