Develop Your Learning Skills to the Limits

See also: Lifelong Learning

What are learning skills?

Knowledge is the main driving force of modern society, a source of power and competitive advantages in work and life.

However, the traditional education system, with its schools and universities, can poorly meet the growing needs for topical knowledge and skills. Even the best universities in the world cannot give their students the knowledge that would be enough for a lifetime. In college, you will get the necessary basic level, but everything changes so quickly that the skills obtained rapidly lose their relevance.

The old model, when a person goes to school and college and then uses this knowledge for their entire life is gradually becoming a thing of the past. The world has never developed at such a rapid pace as now. This is especially true of science, technology, information technologies, and medicine.

If you want to be a success in the twenty-first century, you should learn throughout your entire life. In order to succeed, each of us has to study regularly. But for this, you first have to master a skill that is rarely taught in schools – you must obtain learning skills.

What does a person need in order to acquire new skills and knowledge throughout life effectively?

  1. The correct way of thinking. The most important skill needed for learning is the right mindset. You will not go far if you do not accept the idea of constant learning for yourself. The right attitude is an enthusiasm and desire to learn new things.
  2. Discipline. To learn something new, you need to make an effort to focus on your task. You can be distracted by anything, so learn to concentrate on your task!
  3. Self-motivation. Even if you are encouraged and offered some help, your training is your task. Only you can control yourself to develop basic learning skills.
  4. Time management. Do not delay your learning. If you do not this today, you still have to do it tomorrow, along with lots of other things. It is better to do everything in a planned and timely manner.
  5. Organization. A mess will distract you from learning. Try to make such a place for yourself where nothing distracts you, a space for quiet learning.

How do learning skills help?

The ability to learn and develop allows you to apply a systematic approach to solving any tasks and difficulties for your entire life, in particular:

  1. Setting goals. Any business begins from this point. The ability to correctly identify your own goals, analyze the current status and identify problematic issues, is useful not only in self-study but also in day-to-day life.

  2. Habit formation and a healthy lifestyle. Self-motivation, discipline and organization, integral components of a learning process will help you to form healthy habits and live a healthy lifestyle. Good health is not just about the absence of diseases, but also about great appearance and fullness of energy.

  3. Information searching and filtering. A modern human is overloaded with information. Information is everywhere, and it is distracting. The ability to find exactly what you need in this chaos will be useful in everyday life.

  4. Time management. The ability to organize your time for study can be transferred to other areas of life. In any case, time management skills will help organize your daily routines, and you manage to do more during a day.

As for the professional life and career, everything is pretty simple. The ability to effectively develop new knowledge, skills, technologies, methods, and techniques will determine professional prospects and opportunities for growth. After completing college or university, a person must take care of their own professional growth. It is much more difficult to organize regular self-education in adulthood, since there is less time, more responsibilities, besides other distractions and social pressures. The above-listed correct thinking, discipline, self-motivation, time management, and organization are useful for the organization of self-study.

Understanding focused and diffused modes

The human brain has certain features defining its work. Thus, a brain can work in two modes: focused and diffused.

  1. Focused mode. The brain uses familiar and understandable algorithms in this mode. They are as follows: find a building on a map, calculate your discount in the supermarket, or simply add 2 and 2. Even if you are faced with a difficult task, a brain works in a focused mode, trying to find familiar solutions.

  2. Diffused mode, on the contrary, is suitable for finding new solutions and thinking about new ideas. Have you noticed how many useful thoughts come to your mind when you are in the shower or gym? There are no ready-made templates that can be applied in this mode so that thoughts can be compared to a flight in space: a flight without any obstacles.

When solving a completely new problem, the usual schemes only hinder. True, it is impossible to find the answer in the usual sense in the diffused mode. You can only find a new idea, which then has to be worked out in a focused mode. It is important to remember that at a certain point in time a person can think only in one mode. Thus, for effective training, you will need to use both focused and diffused modes.

Proven Methods to Improve Learning Skills

Here are several helpful tips on how to master effective learning:

  1. Socialization. Self-learning is an important part of the learning process, but in order to gain new knowledge more effectively, it is better to interact with other people. Forums, seminars, training and other types of collective learning will allow you to master knowledge and skills much faster, and also practice your communication skills.

  2. Take notes in a journal. This is an element of self-organization. Be sure to register your tasks for the day/week/month/year/life. It is also very useful to keep a journal with records of your achievements, problems, and just interesting thoughts - you will be able to analyze your results, make adjustments and make a forecast.

  3. Develop your memory. A good memory will help you quickly learn new knowledge. To improve your memory, you can use several tricks:

    • During memorization, combine learning with actions and associations – this will give a lasting memorization effect.

    • Create images for yourself. If you have to remember something important, try to create a certain image in your mind that is associated with what you need to remember. It will be easier for your brain to do this.

    • Speak about the information received. When you want to remember important information, try to retell it, or explain it to another person. The memorization process becomes better when you pronounce the information received.

  4. Remove obstacles. Nothing should distract you from the learning process, so you should take care to find an environment where no factors will distract you.

  5. Do things differently – use new routes, brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand, etc. Changing the usual action provokes the use of other parts of a brain, which contributes to better memorization of material.

  6. Try art, dance or other different activities during your breaks. This gives your brain some rest while it uses other parts for physical activities.

  7. Take care of your health and brain: sleep enough, do physical exercises, eat well and maintain a healthy lifestyle. A lot of people underestimate the impact of our physical condition on our cognitive abilities. Don’t make this mistake. Treat you body well and your brain will pay you back with increased learning skills.

Learn by doing – try to apply all these methods in the practice

Here are some more tips on how to improve your learning process.

  1. Thinking about something new, we create new neural connections. And the more we use these theories in practice, the more we think about them, and the stronger the connections become.

  2. It is important to practice during training. Practice makes things perfect. By practicing, we create increasingly strong neural connections in our minds. Your thought goes easily and quickly along a “beaten path.”

  3. Repeating at intervals is the best way to memorize something. A brain needs a break for the neurons to connect. It is better to repeat a poem ten times today and ten times tomorrow than 20 times today. It is even better to repeat it 2-3 times a day for several days in order to memorize it permanently.

  4. When a brain learns a new technique or a new theory, it is difficult to use it immediately as the necessary neural connections have not yet been formed. Find practical examples; they are a pattern of thinking. Considering examples accelerates the formation of new connections. After some examples, it is already easier to apply the theory in practice, because there is a necessary pattern in the head for this action. Act by analogy. Good examples reveal an object from various sides. Use metaphors and analogies to visualize the concept, to experience the theory.

In any case, you must remember the most important thing – for effective learning you need the desire to achieve results. Having a strong desire and the will to achieve it, you can overcome any obstacles on your way.

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide for Students

The Skills You Need Guide for Students

Skills You Need

Develop the skills you need to make the most of your time as a student.

Our eBooks are ideal for students at all stages of education, school, college and university. They are full of easy-to-follow practical information that will help you to learn more effectively and get better grades.

About the Author

John Charlton is a marketing manager at Atton Institute, which is a training organization that provides a complete range of training courses and certifications for both corporate and private clients. Atton Institute covers a broad range of courses from soft skills and customer service training to management and leadership.