Would you like to be a fast learner but feel like you can’t because that’s only for people who are “smarter” or “better” in some way?
Well, I’m here to tell you that’s wrong!
You might feel like you can’t find time to learn.
Or that you are forever fighting distractions that hinder your learning.
So it’s time to give up and hang up your learning hat?
But don’t look for magic potions, either.
We all can develop fast learning skills, it just takes a little intention and know-how.
Below I discuss ten evidence-based, proven ways to help you become a better and faster learner.
Also, check out our collection of quotes about learning and education that will trigger your quest for knowledge!
Keep reading to discover the 10 ways to become a better and faster learner, and tell us your favorite learning tip in the comment section!
#1. Sharpen your focus
The most common problem students of all ages and stages face these days are distractions brought by the modern world’s busyness and noise.
With so many things competing for our attention, our ability to focus for prolonged periods is reduced.
Don’t give in to the pressure to multitask.
Multitasking is damaging your ability to concentrate.
Research shows that people who multitask take twice as much time and make twice as many errors as those who don’t.
Focus on one thing at a time.
Technology kills focus, too, providing distraction galore and opportunities to give in to procrastination.
Turn off any notifications: emails, social media, and messengers.
Put your phone on silent.
Let yourself immerse in the process.
#2. Be intentional
It’s hard to learn if you’re not sure what you want to learn.
Have a clear purpose for what knowledge you’d like to have.
Whether personal growth or professional development, having a clear why helps keep us on track and fight distractions.
Research shows that attitude is the most powerful factor in predicting academic success.
A positive learning mindset is a combination of motivation, clear goals, a sense of self-efficacy (believing in your abilities to achieve your goals ), and being surrounded by people who support you in your learning goals and expect you to achieve them.
#3. Have a learning plan and stick to it
‘A goal without a plan is just a wish’- A. De Saint-Exupery
If you have a purpose for your learning, set clear learning goals.
Long-term goals should be aligned with your long-term personal growth or professional development plans.
Break them down into medium-and short-term goals.
Build your learning plan based on that.
Don’t forget to have a plan for every learning session, even if it’s just a few points you need to cover.
This will keep you on track and help you cover what you need.
#4. Use every opportunity to learn
Once you’re out of school, it’s hard to find time for learning.
We get so busy with work, family, and other ‘grown-up’ commitments.
But don’t let the lack of time become an excuse.
With technology, you can learn anywhere without carrying heavy books around.
You can access a wealth of knowledge with a simple tap on your smartphone or another mobile device: from ebooks, audiobooks, YouTube videos, or entire courses and ‘nano degree’ at MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and many of them – for free.
Make sure you always have educational resources at your fingertips when going out.
Use synchronizing apps, such as Kindle or Evernote (all platforms), or iBooks (Apple) to effortlessly pick up where you left off, and don’t forget to take notes (you can make notes in many e-reading apps).
#5. Sleep plenty
Do you want to know the easiest way to become a fast learner?
Get plenty of sleep.
Sleep is the time when our brain processes and ‘practices’ stuff we’ve learned during the day.
Sleep is crucial for the consolidation of newly learned information.
National Sleep Foundation recommends that a healthy, non-pregnant, working adult should get 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
If you’ve not been sleeping too well, check the NSF website for tips on improving your sleep and see your doctor.
#6. Exercise regularly
And if you’re ready for something a little harder but still sure-fire: put on your training gear.
Exercise improves memory, executive functions, spatial tasks, reaction time, and even math skills.
If not for your physical and mental health/happiness, schedule regular exercise for the sake of becoming better at acquiring knowledge.
Even if it’s a half-hour brisk walk a couple of times per week.
#7. Take useful notes
There is no effective learning without effective recall.
And the first step to being able to recall what you’ve learned is to take notes.
Notes that capture the essence of the material and are written in your words not only serve as a storage of knowledge, which can be accessed quickly at a later time but also enhance the process of creating connections – which is crucial to ‘deeper learning’.
Record any relevant dates and names, definitions, arguments, and examples.
If you’re learning for practical purposes, e.g. to solve a particular problem in your business, write down what’s relevant to you and use examples from your world to illustrate the concepts presented.
There are multiple note-taking systems: outlining, Cornell notes, mind-mapping, etc.
Pick up one that works best for you.
#8. Fight the forgetting curve
The learner’s biggest enemy is the Forgetting Curve.
The Forgetting curve graph illustrates how quickly we forget the learned material if we don’t take care.
Generally speaking, around 70% of what we’ve learned is gone out of our heads within 24 hours.
To ensure your newly absorbed knowledge doesn’t evaporate from your memory, schedule revisions and relearn it in your diary.
This can be as simple as going over your notes (see, they’re useful!), or even scanning the headlines/sub-headlines in the textbook.
However, the most effective strategy is to put the knowledge you’ve acquired into practice ASAP.
Adults best learn things that are relevant to them and when the knowledge and skills acquired can solve real-life problems.
A practical project, even short and simple, provides excellent opportunities for immediate application of the learned theory.
#9. Don’t bother with learning styles
The theory of learning styles (e.g. visual, auditory, kinesthetic learners) still holds quite strongly, but actually, scientific evidence to support its effectiveness is weak
Don’t get me wrong, I like it too – it’s convenient and fun, but the evidence is evidence.
You’re welcome to use whichever style suits you best, however, more importantly, consider the context for learning.
If you have an audiobook you want to retain a lot of information from, don’t listen to it while driving.
Firstly, you won’t be able to fully concentrate on driving and listening, so please do not do it for yourself and other road users’ sake.
Secondly, you won’t be able to take notes.
Choose something less knowledge-dense or more entertaining.
If you intend to read while on a train, consider taking a notebook with you, or take notes in the reading app.
Conversely, if you want to learn a practical skill, such as knitting or woodwork, you’d probably be better off watching videos rather than reading a book/article, even with some pictures.
#10. Set up a study routine
A study routine is a powerful way to boost your learning abilities.
It puts you on a ‘learning autopilot’: you don’t have to remember you’re supposed to learn now, you don’t have to fight motivational battles, you just quietly get on with it and reap the rewards of regular learning.
Start with as little time as you can dedicate to it, but be practical – there is little use in 5 min if you cannot complete your task.
The easiest way to commit to a regular study/learning session is to use an existing slot of time you already have to yourself.
Commute, exercise time, lunch breaks, or house chores time can work well here.
Add a book/audio course or video series to it, and don’t forget to take notes.
Another great advantage of having a regular slot dedicated to learning is that you can schedule your ‘revisions’ into it.
If you’re reading about emotional intelligence today, recap the highlights of today’s reading tomorrow – to consolidate your knowledge.
Hack into your learning brain
You are motivated to life-long learning and self-development.
You put your time and effort into learning.
Now, you need to maximize the return on your investment in learning.
Use those evidence-based tricks to take your knowledge to the next level.
Keep practicing these strategies, and with time, you’ll see what difference the right tools can make.
Your ‘brain power’ will be boosted, and your memory will improve.
You will become a more powerful, more efficient, and more effective fast learner.
What are you doing to become a better learner?
Do you have any other ideas to share with us?
Let us know in the comment section below.
Check out these related lifestyle articles:
What areas of your life do you want to improve? In our life skills section, we talk about time management, emotional management, stress management, mindset, productivity, soft skills, communication skills and overcoming obstacles.
Are you looking to transform your life? If yes, these daily affirmations are perfect for you. Use them to drive positive change in your life.
Uncover the 14 essential steps to help you find your true calling and embark on a fulfilling journey of self-discovery with this empowering article.
These inspirational meme quotes will inspire you to believe in yourself more and remind you how unstoppable you can be.
Check out these related quote articles:
Our mind is activated when we read something encouraging, funny, or thoughtful.
Learn to fly and soar into the adult you want to be, with these inspirational quotes for kids.
Here are our favorite funny motivational quotes about life, work, and becoming successful.
Discover this treasure trove of motivational quotes to ignite your inner fire and propel you toward greatness.