Within the modern education system, there’s a lot of time spent teaching the basics, like trigonometry, history, and physical education. However, given the exponential growth of information and tech in recent years, the most effective topic we could study would be how to learn faster.
There is an information explosion going on in the world at the moment. You may be astonished to learn that 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every single day. That’s 2.5 followed by 18 zeros!
No matter what field you are in, the landscape you’re dealing with is changing every single day.
Little-Known Hacks to Become a Learning Machine
So, how do you learn faster and study more effectively to keep pace with this exponential rate of change? Below I reveal 11 tips to help you do exactly that.
1. Use the Power of a Nap
You’ve heard of the power of sleep in taking care of hundreds of biological functions in your body. But, have you heard of what a 20-minute nap can do for your learning capacity?
Studies show that a nap enhances memory, by freeing capacity for the learning of new information, during succeeding wakefulness. Basically, once you nap, your brain frees up space, to learn more stuff.
It’s like the RAM in your computer—if it’s too full, your computer won’t be able to do anything extra. But freeing up some RAM makes your computer faster.
If you want to learn faster, take a nap before studying.
2. Leverage Mental Spacing
There’s this idea in our society that if you are going to do something, you have to do it every single day without fail. That might work for other things, but for learning, it’s actually better if you take a day off between learning new ideas.
For example, if you had a hard day of studying today, take tomorrow off, and study again the day after that. This way, not only does your brain have time to assimilate the ideas into your long-term memory, but it also has time to recuperate.
The brain might be a complex machine, but it’s also a biological one. It needs rest, unlike the robotic learning machines you deal with every day.
3. Meditation Helps You Learn Faster and Better
Meditation is good for improving many different bodily and mental functions, and memory recall is one of them.
Meditation trains the power of focus and reduces the distractedness of the mind, allowing you to learn faster and remember more.
With meditation, you can train your brain to be productive, age slower, and get more done. Bravo!
4. Teach Someone Else
If you want to learn quickly, then one of the best methods to do it is to teach someone else the material. In fact, the easier you can make it for someone else to understand the study material, the faster you can learn.
Take a subject matter that is hard for you to learn, and take aside your sibling, friend or parent, and teach it to them.
Why is this approach so effective? Scientists assume it’s because you have to connect and distill complex thoughts into simple ones into order to communicate them to someone else.
5. Take Notes by Hand
In today’s day of Apple Pencils and voice recorders, it can feel unnecessary to grab a pen and take notes by hand. However, if you want to learn faster and store information effectively, then you’ll want to use your hands.
As explained by Jennifer Gonzalez, “Whether it’s taking notes from lectures (Kiewra, 2002) or from reading (Rahmani & Sadeghi, 2011; Chang & Ku, 2014), note-taking has been shown to improve student learning.”
It’ll also ensure that you stay more attentive during class, rather than browsing Instagram or Facebook, or for example, messaging your friends.
6. Read Information Aloud to Yourself
Research conducted by the University of Waterloo found that reading information aloud to yourself is a simple trick to better retain what you’ve learn and recall it later. The researchers found this strategy of reading aloud to yourself to be more effective than hearing someone else read it aloud to you.
As stated by one of the researchers, Professor Colin MacLeod, “learning and memory benefit from active involvement.”
Specifically, the approach of reading to one’s self makes the material you’re studying more distinct in your long-term memory.
7. Use Rhyming, Patterns or Mnemonics
If you have a lot of complicated information to remember, use the technique of mnemonics to chunk, simplify, and summarize that information into an easy to remember, bite-sized word or phrase.
For example, many people know what the colours of the rainbow are because of the mnemonic, VIBGYOR (violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red).
You can also remember things by rhyming them with funny or interesting things.
Most people know the year Columbus hit the open seas because of the phrase, “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” He may not be the most honorable figure in American history, but it’s sure hard to forget that rhyme.
8. Use Classical Music to Aid Your Learning
If you haven’t heard the good news, then here it is. Classical music, like Beethoven’s Für Elise, can help students study longer and keep more information.
Not only is the absence of words in classical music soothing and relaxing for the brain, but studies indicate that it aids in the retention of information.
9. “Walk and Talk” to Study Quicker
After a long day of sitting on your chair, it might be time to change things up. Get up off that chair, stretch yourself out a bit, and start walking while reading your notes.
What? Yes, that’s right. Scientists have discovered that working memory of research subjects improves when they walk at a speed of their choosing.
While researchers are still investigating the mechanism of action behind this finding, they believe it works because walking increases energy and arousal, “which can then be invested into the cognitive task.”
10. Use the Pomodoro Method to Chunk Your Studies
If you are thinking that studying for 3 hours straight is a good idea, think again. The opposite is in fact true. Study in chunks of 25-30 minute sessions. Your brain can only store so much information at once. Don’t overload it.
Once you do one Pomodoro session of 25 minutes, take a 5 or 10-minute break. Stretch yourself and move about.
Then, once revitalized, come back and do another 25-minute stretch.
11. Combine Your Senses
Fascinatingly, using two of your senses, visual and auditory, at the same time, will activate more of your brain and help you learn faster.
This makes sense, as across the course of evolution humans weren’t learning new tasks in an isolated environment.
Synergy, defined as the interaction or cooperation of two of more elements, is powerful. Don’t forget to leverage it in your studies.
Tips, Tricks and Techniques to Learn Fast
Odd are that you instinctively know that you have limitless potential. You owe it to yourself to learn how to best optimize it.
While you can unquestionably learn faster using the tips featured above, we’re each a “test of one” so I’d love to hear your favorite techniques too. If you have a moment, drop them in the comments below.