The world is moving faster. With the Internet, we have all the knowledge of the world at our fingertips. Knowledge is being shared faster and faster than ever before. According to a study by Pew Research Center, they found that about two-thirds of U.S. workers have taken a course or training to grow in their careers. The results have led to expanded opportunities in their professional network, job, or career. In short, it's a great time to upgrade your learning process and learn faster.
Being a fast learner comes with tons of benefits. If you are able to learn the information better and faster, you will:
- Perform better on tests and exams
- Adapt to any work situation better
- Be able to transition to a new industry
- Gain greater competency and skill than your competitors
- Transforms a fixed mindset to a growth mindset
Learning to learn faster is a matter of adapting the right learning strategies. If you are ready to actually learn faster and retain the information, here are seven best scientific ways to learn anything faster:
1. Take Notes with Pen and Paper
It might seem like a great idea to type your notes on your laptop. But it doesn't help you learn faster. Research has shown that people who take organized and meaningful notes by hand learned more effectively.
Writing with pen and paper might seem like a cumbersome learning experience. However, the act of writing it out helps you speed up the learning process.
In fact, if you take thorough and complete notes, it will help you remember the key concepts. You can organize notes into consumable summaries that you can revisit later on.
Here are the basic learning tips for note-taking:
- Listen, then write it down in your own words
- Emphasize the main ideas
- Create a system of symbols and abbreviations to take notes faster
- Avoid writing complete sentences
- Ignore the trivial information
- Lay-out the important information
2. Teach Someone Else
Teaching other people is an effective way to learn faster and remember more. According to a study from Washington University, the expectation of teaching helps you seek out key points in an organized and coherent fashion. You are learning to challenge yourself with a new learning task. It helps you to set learning goals to hold more effective study sessions with your students.
When you are teaching people, you start paying attention to details you might not have noticed before. It helps you study smartly and transfer knowledge into your long-term memory. It gives you a chance to prepare material for different learning styles and different types of learners such as:
- Auditory learner
- Visual learner
- Reading/writing learner
- Kinesthetic learner
3. Use Distributed Practice
Distributed learning means you spread out your practice over a period of time. Using short bursts of learning helps you use repetition to remember the learning materials. Start by taking thorough notes on your learning sessions. Then, read over your notes to ensure it's detailed and accurate.
When you start to spread out the learning sessions, you will find more motivation to learn. It becomes less of a grind and more of a fun experience.
4. Study. Sleep. Repeat.
Sleep is an important part of our overall health and well-being. It's easy to stay up late daily to cram in more study material. But sleep debt takes a huge bite out of your ability to process information.
There is a strong positive connection between sleep and learning. In a study by Psychological Science, getting sleep can boost what you recall up to 6 months later. It's clear that getting more sleep helps our brains remember the information better. Deep sleep (NREM) can increase our recall if it occurs within 12 hours of learning the new information. Try to get at least eight hours of sleep every night to make sure you are operating at max efficiency.
5. Take Mental Breaks to Regain Focus
Ever been overwhelmed after a teacher dropped a ton of new information on you? That's what happens when we are overloaded with information. Stress and overwhelm prevents our brain from effectively comprehending and storing the information.
When you are anxious or stressed, you immediately shut down. This phenomenon is called "zoning out". It becomes ineffective to learn after you are mentally shut down. Take a mental break. Relax a little This will help you reduce fatigue and regain focus.
6. Drink Water
Water helps our cognitive function as well as our bodies. One study found that students who had water in the exam room performed better than those who didn't.
Inversely, dehydration will deteriorate your cognitive abilities. So make sure you drink water to keep your machine well-oiled.
7. Scaffold Your Knowledge
Connecting new ideas to ideas you already understand helps you digest new information. It is one of the learning techniques that allow you to remember a concept for a long time.
Memory plays an important part in our lives. We use memories and experiences to figure out how to handle new situations. You can use memory techniques like the memory palaces to store mnemonic images in a place (like a town or a building) you know well. You can keep storing more information here for better recall.
Start by building a solid foundation of knowledge. Scaffold on top of your preexisting knowledge. Build a broad base that you can layer on top to understand more about the world. This will help you be more adaptable to challenges and learn faster.
Learning quickly requires you to have good learning habits. It requires you to take the right steps to improve your cognitive abilities. Developing the right habits might give you a hard time at first. You might want to continue to study hard and sleep late at first. But once you have taken the proper steps to find your brain's natural learning cadence, you can learn faster and recall things easier. Improving your ability to learn is an investment worth making. It will change how you live. It will give you better opportunities in life. It will help you become more valuable as an individual and contribute more to the world.