Monday, 12 July 2010

10 tips for effective learning

1 - Set aside a learning period at the same time each day - begin to train your mind to expect to learn at this time. Habit can be a very powerful thing, let’s get it on side.

2 - Don’t try to learn for too long. Around 45 minutes is a good chunk of time. And be sure to take at least a 15 minute break every hour. Walk around the block, take a stretch, listen to some music, have some water. You’re only human after all, so don’t burn yourself out. And trying to cram in too much learning over too long a learning period can be counterproductive. You have been warned!

3 - Relax. Take a shower, do some relaxation exercises before you begin each session. Meditation, Yoga, or a piece of relaxing music. Whatever works best for you. Think of yourself as a mental gymnast who needs to prepare themselves well.

4 - Expect to learn. Tell yourself that you will learn, easily and effectively before you begin each session. Expect to remember. Make a commitment, promise yourself.

5 - Don’t knock yourself out. Even if you feel you’re getting nowhere with your studies, take it easy on yourself. Remember that maybe some things need to filter through your mind for them to become available - ever heard of sleeping on a problem?

6 - Play some classical music in the background. Mozart is particularly effective. Many believe that this will optimise your brainwaves for accelerated learning. I’ve heard that Mozart was hyperactive, and that he instinctively composed his music to bring his own state of mind down. Whole language courses have been written which use this technique - I've even written one myself!

7 - Drink plenty of water. You know that already, right? The brain is mostly water, and it relies on a ready supply to learn effectively.

8 - Break down large topics. How do you eat an elephant? A piece at a time! Create a workable breakdown of what you need to learn and by when. Then work backwards and see how much time you need to spend each day. Plan ahead, be organized, and you can save time later.

9 - Teach someone else what you’ve learnt, or what you’re learning. Telling others is a great way to help you remember things yourself. Simply explaining what you’ve learnt to others will make you draw what you’re learning out of yourself and force you to clarify and refine it. Plus, of course, the other person gets to learn what you’re learning too. Who knows, you might even go up in their estimation!

10 - Have fun, enjoy learning and think of how you’ll feel when you’ve mastered all that you need to know. And always look back and be pleased of what you have learnt, rather than getting mad at what you can’t remember.

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