7 essential ingredients to accelerate learning

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Learning is a life-long skill and essential if you want to remain highly productive in whatever you’re doing.  So why not speed the learning process up? In this blog, we look seven essential elements to accelerate learning.

Specificity

Get specific with your learning goal. For example, having the goal of ‘have a 30 minute conversation in Spanish on current affairs’ is more precise and measurable and thus more hackable than ‘speak fluently in Spanish’.

Materials

Choosing the right materials can make a massive difference to how fast you learn. Choose materials or resources that you enjoy learning from- whether that be books, apps, courses or mentors.

Determine the fundamental elements needed

Research the curriculums of several courses and read the contents of several books (you can do this on Amazon) on the area you’re looking to master. What are common elements to each of those resources?

This will help determine the 20% of material that will lead to 80% of the results you’re aiming for, the material that will short cut a lot of learning.

Learning order

Once you know the fundamentals elements, how you order how you learn them can speed up the learning process. Learning chess for example, once you know the basic moves of each piece skip straight to learning checkmate and endgame moves rather than starting with opening moves. Once you’ve mastered checkmates and endgames, learning the opening moves will become easier as you will have embedded fundamental moves1.

Structuring your learning time

Structure your learning to how you find it most enjoyable, sustainable and effective. Personally, spending 1-2 hours, with a break halfway, early in the morning works well for me. Experiment with longer and shorter periods and different times of the day. Scheduling consistent time blocked out for learning is also important.

Notes on memorising and embedding

A couple of techniques on memorising material:

  • Visualisation: using images to remember names or words is powerful. Constructing stories with these images is useful for memorising sequences. Memrise (https://www.memrise.com) uses visual flashcards and repetition to help memorise subject matter.
  • Repetition: this strengthens neural pathways.
  • Active learning: taking notes, summarising and mind mapping are techniques that all embed the learning.

Flip the flow switch

Getting into the flow state when learning greatly increases the speed at which you acquire a skill. According to flow experts Jamie Wheal and Steven Kotler, flow has helped the Navy Seals reduce the time taken to learn a language to six weeks instead of six months2. Flow is enhanced through:

  • Meditation practices, breathing exercises and being present in the moment
  • Removing distractions
  • Getting focused
  • Choosing to learn material that is not too challenging but not too boring and builds your skill-set3.

Hope this helps you to get back to the books on whatever it is you want to master whether that is coding, languages or martial arts!

Happy studying,

Paddy

References

  1. ‘The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance’ – Josh Watzkin
  2. ‘Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley Navy Seals, and Maverick Scientists are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work’ – Steven Kotler, Jamie Wheal
  3. http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2006/11/23/flow-curiosity-and-engaging-education/
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