20 Ways to Supercharge Your Ability to Learn

2 minute read
Barker is the author of Barking Up The Wrong Tree

  • “Learning occurs best when important information is selected from less important ideas, when selected information is organized graphically, when associations are built among ideas and when understanding is regulated through self-testing
  • Know the rules your brain works by and general tips for getting smarter.
  • A negative attitude increases motivation to learn. Cheerful students think they’re doing well but have lower GPA’s. Good moods can harm your memory.
  • Being social before a test increases performance.
  • Testing yourself is the best way to study — even if you fail the tests.
  • “A well-timed sugary drink, thirty minutes to an hour before you have to remember or take notice of something particularly well should improve how well you remember it.” Or just have coffee and a donut.
  • Turn off the music and don’t study in groups.
  • Gesturing improves your ability to learn.
  • Do not forget your good luck charm.
  • Talk to yourself.
  • Take naps after you study.
  • Doodle.
  • Don’t be afraid to fail. In fact, you might want to do it deliberately.
  • The Socratic method works.
  • Teach others.
  • Find a way to relate to the material.
  • Turn off the computer and write by hand.
  • There is a way to increase learning as you sleep.
  • Don’t cram. Spacing out learning is a powerful way to increase performance.
  • More tips are here and here.
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    This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

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    Do Not Email First Thing in the Morning or Last Thing at Night “The former scrambles your priorities and all your plans for the day and the latter just gives you insomnia,” says Ferriss, who insists “email can wait until 10am” or after you check off at least one substantive to-do list item.Chris Pecoraro—Getty Images
    Do Not Agree to Meetings or Calls With No Clear Agenda or End Time “If the desired outcome is defined clearly… and there’s an agenda listing topics–questions to cover–no meeting or call should last more than 30 minutes,” claims Ferriss, so “request them in advance so you can ‘best prepare and make good use of our time together.'”Sam Edwards—Getty Images/Caiaimage
    Do Not Check Email Constantly Batch it and check it only periodically at set times (Ferriss goes for twice a day). Your inbox is analogous to a cocaine pellet dispenser, says Ferriss. Don’t be an addict. Tools like strategic use of the auto responder and Boomerang can help.Jetta Productions—Getty Images
    Do Not Carry a Digital Leash 24/7 At least one day a week leave you smartphone somewhere where you can’t get easy access to it. If you’re gasping, you’re probably the type of person that most needs to do kick this particular habit.by nacoki ( MEDIA ARC )—Getty Images/Flickr RF
    Do Not Let People Ramble Sounds harsh, but it’s necessary, Ferriss believes. “Small talk takes up big time,” he says, so when people start to tell you about their weekends, cut them off politely with something like “I’m in the middle of something, but what’s up?” But be aware, not everyone agrees with this one (and certainly not in every situation), and you may want to pay particularly close attention to norms around chit chat when traveling internationally.Reza Estakhrian—Getty Images

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