“I am still learning.” — Michelangelo at age 87
Learning is something we do throughout our lives, from our adolescent years to staying competitive in the job market as an adult. There are things nobody teaches us like learning how to walk and there are things we are generally taught, like learning to count. Throughout our lives we are constantly learning new things. But when do we focus solely on learning how to learn? In this blog I'll be discussing why learning how to learn efficiently and quickly is one of the most valuable skills you can have and 3 strategy's you can use to learn more effective and efficiently.
Learning to how to learn effectively will increase the rate at which you can adapt to the ever changing environment that is the tech industry. Although we all have different learning styles and generally have our own learning preferences. According to Learning Specialist Dr. Barbara Hong, “We’re more similar in learning than we are different in styles.” Furthermore In tech unlike most industries things are constantly changing and there are times we need to catch up and times when it's not necessary. Learning what you need to learn is just as important as learning how to learn when learning efficiently. Like I explained in my last post. With the Pareto Principle, the law of the vital few, A small percent of the effort, lets say around 20%, yields a majority,around 80%, of the results. So when it comes to focusing on the important parts how do we approach learning? Well, I'll share with you 3 methods that work for me when it comes to learning more efficiently:
When it comes to learning your brain is like a muscle. When you use your brain to learn it gets stronger (Wow who knew?), but just like a muscle it also needs time to rest to come back even stronger. Learning a lot at once can lead to burn out however if you see this graph:
You can see that learning a little bit at a time can compound and increase your learning interest over time. This is akin to working out to get fit. Since when you work out you have to do it consistently overtime to build your muscles. Likewise learning a little bit each day will lead to more overall growth in the long term and prevent burnout.
This is one of my favorite ways to learn because it really challenges you to break down a topic to it's most fundamental level and forces you to truly understand it. Essentially the Feynman Technique is a method of learning where you explain a topic to someone else. It can be shown below:
As you can see above it can be described in 4 steps:
1. Study a topic - Learn about it initially.
2. Teach it to someone - Comprehend even the most basic steps.
3. Fill in any gaps - Understand the things you are missing to fully teach it.
4. Return to literature - Learn the things you need to fully understand it and to communicate it.
Not only do you learn something more efficiently but you also teach it to someone else who can do the same thing! Which is why I like to call this the "Each One Teach One" Method.
Named after the infamous Tomato, (actually), this technique is vastly popular and effective because it takes advantage of your diffused and focused modes of thinking.
When you are deliberately learning for 25 minutes, you are in your focused mode of thinking where you are working your brain. When you take your 5 minute break you allow your brain to enter it's diffused mode, which lets your brain rest and take a breather. This in turn allows it to build connections between the neurons in the brain. This is a direct comparison to working out and taking a rest between sets. This technique not only is effective but it allows you to study for more prolonged periods of time cumulatively. As opposed to if you were to do it all at once and lose focus during the later half of the session.
In conclusion, Learning to learn effectively is not only an effective skill to have for your job in tech. But also for whatever challenges you may have to face in life. This article only scratches the surface of the methods and techniques we have at our disposal to learn effectively. These are just a few of the methods that work for me but I implore you to do your research to learn methods to learn effectively that may suit you better. I'll leave you with this quote by your neighborhood poet Dr. Seuss:
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” ― Dr. Seuss
Also published here.