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Learn Better: Mastering the Skills for Success in Life, Business, and School

Posted in Bedtime Blog
 

What’s in it for me? Learn to learn better.

It is believed that if you want to be a master in your field you have to a born genius, have an outstanding memory or, a least, be willing to become a bookworm. Right?
Well, not quite. You don’t have to next Einstein or Newton to become an efficient learner. All you need a set of specific skill to master the art of learning. In this article, I’ll share some of those techniques. You’ll learn:

How to excel in a field where you perform poorly?
To create a desire to learn any topic, even Mathematics. 
And what “a giant, throbbing thirty-foot-wide buttocks” has to do with learning.

Learning is easy. You just need right strategies and tools.

For decades, it is assumed that learning ability depends on innate intelligence. But experts have shown us that with few strategies and tools, anyone can improve their skills drastically.

In 1980’s Anastasia Kitsantas conducted an experiment in a girls school. She divided girls into three parts to play darts.
The first group was only told about the rules of games.
The second group was taught throwing strategies, such as keeping their arms close to their body.
The third group was motivated to just do their best. 
In the end, the second group outperformed others by their strategies. They also had a lot of fun during the game.

Another useful learning tool called self-quizzing. This learning strategy involves frequently recalling what you have learned. Research shows that quizzing is 50 percent more efficient than other learning strategies.

A final method for improving learning is to use earplug to block out external noise. You may even try listening to white noise or clam music if the learning space is noisy.

Beware, avoid listening to songs with lyrics in it. It can distract you from learning.


If you can find meaning in your study, your learning is going to get better, fast.

You may learn hundreds of strategies to learn better but it may not last very long if you don’t find any value in what you are learning. If you can make your skills valuable and meaningful, you’ll be much more driven to take initiative and persevere. But meaning and significance don’t just come out of nowhere. It may take a great deal of hard work to find.

For instance, few students harbor a burning passion for statistics. And so to get a group of them motivated, Chris Hulleman, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia, developed a little strategy.He made the students write essays on how statistics could enhance them and their interests. They put pen to paper and came up with some real gems — for instance, that statistics could help their prospects as nurses, managers or marketers. Consequently, they quickly became much more interested in the subject. In fact, some really got the bug and ended up jumping a whole grade level.

You’ll need to set small, specific goals to master a skill. And learn the basics first.

Let’s say you want to run a marathon. At first, the task may seem very daunting but not until you divide your task into small goals. Breaking down a big goal into small and specific tasks can help you to manage and measure the goal. By completing small targets one by one. It provides a great sense of achievement which in turn will help you to be motivated.

It is also essential to learn the background of any new goal first. For example, imagine you have no knowledge of Italian and suddenly someone asks you “Qual è il tuo obiettivo?”. Without knowing any words and little grammar rules, you’d have no idea of knowing that you were being asked what is your goal. And once you have the essentials down, you’ll be that much better at setting yourself small and achievable goals.


When it comes to learning, the importance of feedback can’t be overemphasized.

Have you ever practiced a presentation in front of a friend before the big day? This is a very common practice to do and with good reason. Being evaluated by an audience is a fantastic way to improve any skill. When you are learning you may easily overlook your mistakes. Having someone else’s perspective can be very helpful. So find yourself a mentor (doesn’t necessarily a Yoda) who can pinpoint your shortcomings. And don’t take any comment or suggestion on your ego. If the other person finds that you are getting upset with their feedback. He or she may hesitate to point out next mistake. Remember, it’s better to fall in front of your friend than before a large audience.

In the beginning, it may seen a time consuming but in long run, it can be the most important step to learn any skill you want.


You can improve your learning by immersing yourself in your field and making things visual.

Our ancestor used to transfer their knowledge to next generation via orally telling the stories or by demonstrating their skills. In other words, people used to engage their all senses to learn a skill. But now with the invention of pen, paper or electronic media, the art of submerging all your senses has been lost.

Now if you want to use our ancestor’s technique, you must use your power of imagination for deepening your skills and knowledge. This strategy is called image visualization with your mind’s eye.

Stand-up comedian Bob Harris is a great fan of this method. Once he wanted to memorize the titles of E. M. Forster’s novels. So he imagined himself in a room, looking out the window, through which he could see “a giant, throbbing thirty-foot-wide buttocks.” This image ensured that Harris would forever remember the book titles A Room with a View and Howard’s End. Presumably, in Harris’s mind, the gargantuan buttocks belonged to a giant named Howard.
Through the simple act of visualizing, you too can benefit and learn the concepts and facts you need in your chosen field.

Actionable advice:

Try linking the new skills with the ones you already know. Whenever you read a fact or figure try relating to the previous fact. This creates a chain of information which helps when you try to recall information.
This knowledge is gain by the book Learn Better written by Ulrich Boser.