So here it goes, another free course from Udemy, this time about memory and memorisation techniques.
Set your goals
Before you start i need you to set the goals for this course and the things you want to learn, be it a new language, books, etc. You need to be sure you set the right goals: be S.M.A.R.T.
Specific – rather than set a big goal set a smaller goal and break it into even smaller steps. If one step is too big divided into smaller steps.
Measurable – your goal needs to be measurable. Saying i want to read more is not a measurable goal but instead i want to read a book per day is a measurable goal.
Actionable – the small steps are so easy and immediate that you can’t wait to take action.
Relevant – choose relevant goals. You can place them on a matrix defined by effort required and perceived value. Most of your time you will want to focus on low effort – high value goals. Another technique is to use the Pareto principle which implies that 20% of the goals provide 80% value.
Time bound – your goals need to have a specific day in which you want to be achieved so that you can monitor your progress. For example if you want to read 30 books per month you need to read one book per day.
And your goals need to be dynamic because our world is dynamic and what is relevant today can become irrelevant tomorrow.
Trust your memory
Your brain is like a muscle. The more you use your memory the better it becomes. Our world is filled with technology so that we don’t need to remember anything, there is surely an app for it. But you need to make your mind take responsibility and remember some things on it’s own. In the beginning you will forget some of the things you need to remember but this sends a powerful message to the brain and in time you will start to remember things.
A chunk is the mental leap that helps you unite bits of information together through meaning.
What if you need to remember FBICBSIBMIRS? It would be easier if you would split it into smaller chunks like:
Think of it like a puzzle where every piece is information and by connecting it you see the picture. When you are stressed you loose the ability to make some of this connections so you should avoid learning when you are hungry, stressed or afraid. Study when you are calm and relaxed because you will need less effort.
Focused and diffuse mode
We basically have 2 learning modes: focused and diffused. Focus is when you concentrate intensely on something you’re trying to understand. When you encounter a new concept you never saw before you need diffuse mode because it is the mode to develop new ideas. So what do you do when you can’t figure something out? You take a pause but not a pause like playing on your smartphone.
Mixing the two learning modes
So as far as we know you can’t be in both modes at the same time so when learning your’re either focusing or diffusing. When taking a pause you need to be in a completely relaxed state of mind and not trying to think. Example of diffuse pauses: taking a shower, a walk, eating, etc.
As human beings we tend to associate a word to an image and we do it since we were kids, it is our way to learn about the world we are in and the language people around us use. One of the first and best ways to memorize and understand concepts is to create metaphors for them, the more visual the better. As you get more sophisticated about the topic you can create new metaphors and toss the old ones away.
Different learning techniques
It may sound weird but wearing a hat eliminates some of our vision and helps concentrate even more. Another tip is to use noise cancelling headphones which obviously helps concentration by eliminating background noises. And last but not least find a comfortable place for study and cut distractions like smartphones.
When studying something you need to have in mind the following goals:
- Find the right information (the most important)
- Retain that for as long as possible
- Reduce the study time
So first you need to ask yourself why are you studying what are you studying. There are different strategies for different purposes. A goal would be to get better grades. You need to know what to pull out of your readings. For example if you will need to pass a multiple choice test then you will want to focus on the details so you’ll have to take concise notes that you can turn into questions that you can study later on. But if you want to write an essay then getting the main ideas is the most important so in this case you need to focus on summarization.
Don’t read your textbook like you read a newspaper, so like you don’t need to apply what you are learning; instead read for application. Also don’t expect to read efficiently by reading and re-reading a passage over and over again. The brain is better at remembering emotionally evocative pictures so try to read in the same way you talk with a friend who challenges you intellectually: you contribute with your own words to create something new – this is called active reading and it is crucial for remembering what you read. You should also read fast because it allows you to keep focus on what you are learning.
Other tips: read consistently -> read everyday. Take notes for each reading -> summarize (a small summary for each reading). With both of this habits you can experiment to make them input based habits like reading for 15 minutes per day which implies a fixed effort or output based habits like making small summaries out of what you are reading which implies making something concrete.
Another tip is to reward yourself when you’re done with a task, you can reward yourself with anything you like for example cookies or watching a movie.
Study less but in a smart way
Studying more is a bad idea because the average student can only pay attention on average to 25-30 minutes so after this time you can take a break of 5 minutes to do something fun. You need to study in an area made for studies so that the context make it easier for you to study. After you decide that to focus on while reading, highlight the most important concepts that you will later on summarize. You can highlight on average two words per paragraph which are keywords that will help you focus on just a few concepts at a time. After this you can go back to read the highlights but you need to make sure that you are recalling the keywords, not recognizing them, and you can do it by quizzing yourself. After this you can divide the keywords in two parts: concepts and facts. Concepts will stay with you longer but facts drift away easier so you can learn facts by using analogies.
The best way to read a book is to play the audio version at twice the normal speed and read the book in the same time while following the words with your index finger.
So this tips should be enough for you to study more efficiently, have a nice learning experience!