As part of our personal development journey, do we all want to learn, grow and become a better person each day?
If so, then it may be a good idea to ponder how to not just consume information and data. But also learn from it, not just to know, but to be able to apply it, grow because of it, and become better each day. In other words, it is of no use if you are only a ‘content junkie’, consuming tons of all kinds of content. Have a process in place to consume the right content. And then put it to some good use.
Here are some tips to significantly improve your learning and help progress in your personal development:
1. Have a goal or focus for your learning – We are constantly bombarded with all kinds of information through our devices. Therefore, it’s critical now, more than ever before, to decide what information you are exactly looking for. Know what exactly are you trying to learn or improve. Is it time management, accounting, or public speaking? Having a goal for your learning can help to stay focused on the subject.
2. Become comfortable with the struggle of learning: The struggle that comes with learning something new. When you are learning something new, your brain is being re-wired and it is working hard. At the moment, it might be painful, boring, or sometimes even make you restless, tempting you to give up. But the pain is what creates the gain, especially if that’s a new skill, technique, formula, process, etc. If you can push through the initial discomfort, it can be very rewarding.
3. Become curious – Rather than only consuming data, start with questioning, asking better questions. Challenge all assumptions and stop with the presumptions. When you seek with curiosity is when there’s discovery, learning, and growth in the unknown. Curiosity in the department of knowledge has never killed a cat.
4. Learn in focused sessions – Research shows that it’s best to have concentrated sessions of 30 to 90 minutes of learning any new material. Anything less than that is not enough to cement the learning in. And anything more than that can be overwhelming to absorb and retain the learning. So set aside an hour or so a day to learn your new topic.
5. Learn in multiple ways – Another tip is learning in more than one way. Instead of just listening to a podcast, which involves auditory learning, find a way to rehearse the information both verbally and visually. This might involve describing what you learned to a friend, taking notes, or drawing a mind map. By learning in more than one way, you are further cementing the knowledge in your mind. Also, understand what kind of person you are. Visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. That knowledge can help you fix the first channel of learning.
6. Take Short Breaks – Your brain is like a muscle which can also get tired if you overwork it. Your brain juice can deplete over a period of time and then you really can’t concentrate on your work. So it’s important to realize the length of your concentration span and take a break thereafter. Taking regular short breaks not only helps improve your focus, but they can also boost your productivity too. This gives the brain the best chance to restore the whole of your learnings.
7. Repeat – A good-looking lawn grass needs a good watering schedule. You will agree that watering the lawn for 30 mins, thrice a week will give you a nice lush lawn as opposed to watering it once a week for 90 minutes. Similarly, when your brain gets the same information in repetition, you remember things better. Especially if it’s a new habit you are trying to form, repeating the learning will get better results. Our brain pays less attention to anything we’re experiencing the very first time. Repeating information over longer intervals is crucial for the brain to store that information, in a ready-to-recall folder.
8. Go deep versus wide – Going deep on one subject (in your chosen topic) is far better than being shallow on a wide range of topics. Whatever it is that you are trying to learn, learn it well. Master it. Become an expert at it and then move to the next topic.
9. Apply it – You can watch hundreds of tutorials on how to dance and you will be an expert in watching tutorials on how to dance. It doesn’t make you a dancer. To become an expert dancer, you have to start dancing. So practice what you are learning. Apply it, learn from the application process.
10. Teach someone else – You don’t know something unless you explain it to somebody else convincingly. If you don’t make sense to your audience, then you haven’t learned it well enough. Remember, once teaching is twice learning.
11. Get enough sleep: Sleep is the best ingredient to help you focus. Lack of sleep prevents you from concentrating and reduces your ability to remember what you have learned. Get at least 7 – 8 hours of sleep each night.
Never stop learning, never stop pursuing growth. Become the better version of yourself that you deserve to be!