If you want to know how to learn faster and remember more, don’t look for revolutionary methods. Instead, focus on the details.
What you write with, what you look at and exactly how much rest you take is of gigantic importance. See what you absolutely must pay attention to.
In the dozen or so years of sitting through various schools, you were required to memorise a mass of things every day, but no one told you how to learn or the best ways to memorise.
Strange, isn’t it?
After all, memorization is the basis of learning and performing efficiently in practically every area.
Whether it’s preparing for a big exam or cramming in your own ID number, the more it stays in your head, the better.
There are different ways to learn
Although there are no shortcuts, and everyone has a slightly different aptitude, there are a few easy techniques to learn.
These aren’t some magic tricks or revolutionary approaches. You’ve probably been using most of these things for a long time, but… the secret is in the details.
As you’ll see in a moment, even a few seconds matter.
In this post, I’ll tell you about eight ways to learn that will not only help you remember things faster, but also make the information stay in your head for longer.
That is, learning will be effective.
These are not made up things, I base them on research and the results of various scientific experiments.
Shall we get started? :)
1. How to learn difficult things?
Information which seems easy to remember often flies out of your head the fastest, why?
Let’s say a friend gives you her address and her house number is 15A/15. You find it very easy to remember and… you stop trying.
Instead of repeating it a few times to reinforce it, you decide that it is too trivial to make any effort.
Later, you find yourself in the street and can’t for the life of you remember what number your friend gave you. You only remember that it was something easy…
Of course, less complex information becomes embedded in the memory much faster, but we still have to put some effort into remembering it.
Without a few repetitions and a clear intention to memorise something, even the simplest things will slip out of our minds.
But what kind of effort will be sufficient?
2. How to learn by repetition?
A group of people were shown 26 short scenes recorded on video.
After each video, half of the participants were asked to repeat in any way they wished what they had just seen for 40 seconds. They could play the scenes again in their head, out loud, write them down, etc.
After two weeks, the differences in effects were drastic.
Those who simply watched the videos remembered virtually nothing.
However, if someone repeated the information for at least 40 seconds, even after two weeks they were able to recall many details.
Of course, this does not only apply to films.
This simple method also works with books or lectures, for example. Just 40 seconds of short repetition is enough to remember much more.
Another experiment, conducted by Harvard Business School, showed that those employees who took a quick summary at the end of each day and drew conclusions from the past few hours achieved results that were almost 23% higher.
Repetition is the cornerstone of remembering and learning. How to do it most effectively?
3. Repeat out loud to others
When you tell another person about what you have just learnt, you clearly increase your chances of them remembering the information for longer.
Research shows that this principle works even if your interlocutor is not listening.
Professor Victor Boucher, who has studied this phenomenon, in one experiment asked different groups of participants to memorise several words.
Depending on the group, he imposed a different way of learning – some of the subjects had to repeat the words in their heads, others were asked to pronounce them aloud, and a third group was told to tell the story to other people.
It was this last group that achieved the best results in later memory tests.
Research has proven that this method is also effective with completely made-up, non-existent words, which shows that telling others helps in learning almost any subject.
This is because the brain engages additional senses (speech), but also processes, analyses and arranges information in order to best communicate it.
It is this extra effort that facilitates memorisation.
4. How to learn by taking notes?
But we don’t always have someone to whom we can talk freely, or it would simply be strange in a given situation.
We’re not going to whisper in a colleague’s ear everything that the teacher is saying during a lecture.
Then, instead of just listening, it is essential to take notes. It’s a seemingly trivial conclusion, but here, too, there are a few details worth paying attention to.
5. How to take notes?
Firstly, it’s no good taking notes on a computer.
Research has proven that those who take notes by hand remember the material better. Why?
By writing on a computer we are able to take notes much faster and this paradoxically works to our disadvantage. Because of this high speed, we take notes of literally everything we hear.
Handwritten notes do not give us this comfort.
We are forced to paraphrase and rapidly analyse the material in order to select the most important elements from it. Thanks to this, we more consciously “process” the information that comes to us.
Secondly, when taking notes by hand, do not be afraid to sketch and scribble in the margins. This seemingly unnecessary addition improves learning outcomes.
Professor Jackie Andrade of Plymouth University asked 40 people to listen to a boring message about an upcoming party.
The participants were asked to note down, from among the names that appeared, those people who are invited to the party.
The creators of the experiment made sure that the subjects were heavily bored. The recording was very long and the tone of voice was monotonous.
At the end of the study, the participants had their notes taken away and were unexpectedly asked to write from memory the names they had written on the cards.
Those who sketched while listening remembered on average 30% more of them.
This is because even the simplest scribbling allows you to maintain a sufficient level of concentration.
Your attention remains focused on the page and you don’t drift off far enough to be occupied by other topics.
Thirdly, find and develop your own tried and tested note-taking system. I remember at university being envious of people who could take notes in a structured way. Their notes were then the most popular during the session. ;)
Find your note-taking system. One interesting way is the Cornell method.
5. Do you want to learn more efficiently? Take breaks!
I once signed up for a speed reading course.
In fact, I learned how to scan a text at a good speed and I could understand a lot of it. Unfortunately, such reading had one huge disadvantage – after just a few days I practically forgot everything.
Memory does not like haste.
If you want to memorise material that is large and demanding, it is necessary to divide it into parts and take a short break between each part.
The information should have time to consolidate. If you cram hundreds of pieces of data into your head at lightning speed, few of them are likely to stay there for long.
6. How long should study breaks be?
It doesn’t take much.
In one experiment, participants who took a 10-minute break after reading a text remembered as much after a week as those who had read the same story just a quarter of an hour earlier!
7. Nature helps you remember
If breaks matter, why not combine it with a short walk?
The question is, is our memory affected by where we go?
Researchers at the University of Michigan showed participants in an experiment a set of random numbers and asked them to memorise them.
They then divided the subjects into two groups. They sent one for a walk in a park and the other along a busy street.
After returning from this short break, those walking among the trees and greenery remembered 20% more than their colleagues walking along the road.
Subsequent research showed that the view of nature itself was the key factor here, rather than actually being surrounded by it. Memory was aided by the pretty landscape outside the window, or even by pictures and photographs.
Maybe that classic Windows wallpaper isn’t so bad after all?
8. Physical activity also affects memory
Physical exertion helps in so many ways that it is no surprise that it also has a positive effect on memory.
However, it turns out that details matter here too.
In one study, participants were divided into three groups: the first exercised immediately after studying, the second 4 hours after, and the third not at all.
In later memory tests, those who had a 4-hour break between learning new material and training performed best. Physical exertion immediately after learning had no effect on the ability to remember.
An adequate break once again proves helpful and is worth including.
Extra tip: Work on your ability to concentrate
Are you finding it more and more difficult to concentrate on one task and to resist the temptation of constantly glancing at your phone? It’s the result of a flood of information and a widespread addiction to… social media.
Many studies show that the way we consume it affects many aspects, including permanently changing our brain.
We are less able to concentrate, and the arousal that comes from another notification or blue light from screens drops off in an instant.
Summary: What can you do to focus on learning and to learn effectively?
First of all, you have to look at it as a process, a kind of mind training. Yes, the ability to concentrate can be developed. Where to start?
Start working or studying by scheduling your breaks for… distraction. How do you apply this to effective learning?
Divide your time into blocks, write in time to look at emails, social media and other distractions. This will keep you disciplined, without the effect of being completely cut off.
During the time spent studying, turn off all notifications, preferably putting your phone out of your sight. Make your life and decisions easier by using time and social media control tools – such as the Kill News Feed plugin.
Develop a regular rhythm of working or studying, approach it as a habit you need to develop.
Learn to rest and work on the quality of your sleep. Before going to bed, try to summarise your day, write down what you managed to do and put unfinished tasks on a list.
Also, give up your phone immediately before bedtime or use a night-time screen light mode.
These are just a few examples of methods. Try them or look for your own.
Thank you for reading this article about how to learn faster and remember more and I really hope that you take action my advice.
I wish you good luck and I hope its contents have been a good help to you.