Have you ever wondered why some people learn faster than others? Why can some people pick up a new language in 2-3 months, while for others it can take a whole year of studying, or maybe even longer? Learning speed is often considered to be a question of talent, of natural ability. But truth be told, the power to learn more quickly and effectively is within the reach of every single one of us.
With the advent of new technologies, we are expected to work at breakneck speed and demonstrate an unparalleled level of agility. So, to stay competitive, we need to constantly take in new information and hone our ability to learn at a faster rate.
Here are a few tips on how to develop your learning capabilities using a both speedy and effective approach.
1. Make all the necessary preparations
In order to achieve even a basic level of mastery of a skill, a fundamental level of discipline and preparation is needed.
Hence there are some rules you need to follow if you want to learn things faster – first and foremost, being prepared. As the saying goes: ‘well planned is half done’, and good preparation is the best way to kick start your learning.
For optimal preparation, self-awareness is key. We all learn in different ways. And some learning methods work better for us than others. You need to identify your strengths and weaknesses by asking yourself the right questions: am I motivated to learn? In which contexts do I learn best? Do I prefer to be guided, or am I instead quite confident in my own way of doing things?
These are also the key questions that instructors should be asking themselves about their learners. The majority of training programmes are simply not effective since they are not tailored to suit the learner’s potential, nor their behavioural idiosyncrasies in learning situations. And yet there is a whole host of tools available to evaluate these abilities, like personality assessments or interests and motivation tests, for example.
So, if you want to pinpoint the learning strategy that’s most effective for you, you will need to draw upon your personal strengths: your excellent listening ability, your thirst for knowledge, your flexibility, your organisational skills, etc. Start off by setting yourself an objective and making it the focus of all your energy. The more motivated you are by this project, the more fruitful your skill acquisition will be. You should therefore begin by learning a skill which is likely to be of use to you in the near future. This will help you to persevere and you will stay motivated for much longer.
2. Focus on what you want to learn
Learning is a habit, and most habits are formed over time, or potentially in just six weeks, according to science.
You should therefore opt for short slots of learning time which are easy to integrate into your daily routine. It is far more worthwhile to learn for a few minutes every day than cramming a week’s worth of studying into a single day. Start by breaking down the skill you are learning into as many parts as possible.
To ensure you stay focused on your tasks, use the Pomodoro technique, which involves working intensely for 25-minute increments, broken up by 5 to 10-minute breaks between each task. Our brains will often draw connections and associations between ideas without us even realising it. This technique allows you to capitalise on your rest time and to fully consolidate the memorisation of new information.
3. Immediately put what you’ve learnt into action
First of all, remember that the brain is like a muscle – it can change and adapt throughout its development with the help of specific exercises. The more we practice, the more we develop our capabilities.So remember, practice, practice, practice – that’s the key to l earning! To help you along the way, here is a very effective technique you can use, which you may already be aware of: if you want to learn something, then teach it to someone else. Get a piece of paper and jot down everything you know about the topic you wish to teach.
Imagine you are teaching something to a child. Why, you ask? That’s just it, because children always ask the question ‘why?’. If you know the answers to all the ‘why questions’ around your subject area, then you’re on the road to success.
If you struggle with explaining certain points, this is a clear sign that you need to look over the topic again and keep working on it.
This technique can even be applied to areas that we think we’ve completely mastered. The most important thing is that you follow these stages and that you are completely honest with yourself.
Learning is an artform, with techniques that are easy to put in place but not so easy to stick to.
But remember, this continuous learning nourishes the mind, boosts your potential, fosters independence and skills development, as well as paving the way for new personal and professional opportunities.