The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice. – Brian Herbert
From a young age we are taught; if you want to learn, then you go to school. If you were anything like me, School was mind-numbingly boring. There was no interest, no curiosity and thus no willingness to learn.
To learn you have first to want to. Given enough time and dedication, you can learn anything; cooking, swimming, skiing or even programming. But is there a way we can speed up learning?
I’m a big advocate of Tim Ferriss and the inspiration he is for fast pace learning and work ethic; his podcast first introduced me to The Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule). It states that; “for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.”
Following this, you can break down any skill into two parts.
- The top 20% (hardest parts to learn)
- The bottom 80% (easiest parts to learn)
Theoretically the hardest parts to learn will take 80% of your total time, whereas the easiest parts to learn will only take 20% of the time.
This principle means that by isolating the few vital tasks, we can learn the majority of a skill in a relatively short amount of time!
Okay great, we now know that we can learn 80% of the content in 20% of the time and we can isolate the top 20% most commonly used material to understand 80% of a skill. But how do we learn it?
We are all unique, no two of us learn the same way, one person might find that reading for 6 hours straight is their best way to learn while another might find a 10-minute video works better for them. Truth is we all have to experiment to find what methods work best for us.
We can speed up this process though.
Visual, Aural (Audible), Read/write, and Kinaesthetic (Touch) or VARK for short are the four main styles that people use. Knowing your learning style can help you break down what materials are best suited for you to learn more efficiently.
This two-minute VARK Questionnaire will give you a rough estimate of what learning style(s) you use. I just completed it, and my results were:
Visual 6 Aural 3 Read/write 3 Kinaesthetic 10
Which is accurate for me; I know that either being shown what to do first and then trying or just getting stuck in and working it out as I go is how I learn best.
What were your results? Leave a comment down below.
So now we know what to learn and how we can learn it, now all we need to do is keep hold of what we have just learnt. Sleep. Straight forward but it always seems like we never prioritise it high enough. There’s plenty of articles as to why cramming the night before exams rarely works, why it’s better to go to bed early or the benefits of sleep. Need I say more. Go to bed!
Trouble sleeping but can get enough of screens? There are options for PC and Android which add a red glow as the evening sets in reducing blue light making it easier for you to sleep. I use them cause it’s better for you eye’s too!
Now you have all the tools you need; you know what to learn, how to learn it and why sleep is important. Three vital aspects of learning more efficiently. Remember nothing happens overnight, learning takes time; be persistent, and you will see results.
I will be adding the benefits of having a mentor and the power of asking good questions however I think this deserves an entire post by itself.
Thanks for reading, and I wish you the best of luck on your learning adventure!