Becoming a better learner should be the number one skill everybody wants to learn. Think about it, it’s the real-life equivalent of asking a genie for infinite wishes. You’re rigging the game!
Only, unlike the story of Aladdin, this is your life and it’s entirely possible (and dare we say it, jolly good fun!).
You’ll have heard the saying, “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” But it’s easier said than done, sometimes. What if the chap finds it tricky to learn new things? Maybe he has a short attention span, or is so clumsy and thumb-fingered he can’t tie knots in the line properly?
Don’t worry: everyone can learn, given enough time, dedication and effort. It’s one of life’s great joys that almost all of us can achieve whatever we set our minds to. The trick is to train ourselves to become more adept learners; more savvy students; better boffins.
14 Ways to Become a Better Learner
1. Make Time For Learning
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you won’t learn everything you need to if you try to cram all your training into one short day, either. How can you expect the learning content to seep into all the crevices of your cranium if you give it a flash-in-the-pan learning experience? Make sure you dedicate enough time to your learning – you’ll certainly see the benefit.
2. Set Goals
Setting realistic, solid goals – or ‘SMART’ goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound) – means that we get more done. Goals allow us to see at a glance what we need to do and, when combined with to-do lists, give us the oversight and motivation to crack on and get things done. To make them even more motivating, you can even gamify your goals!
In addition to gamifying your goals, you can add elements of gamification and game mechanics to your learning, too. Whether you reward yourself with a chocolate bar for completing an eLearning unit or with a trip to the cinema when you smash the associated tests and assessments, you’ll find your motivation kicks into overdrive when you gamify your learning. That’s why we love gamification here at Growth Engineering. Not only do we apply gamification features to eLearning units, but we also add it to our Learning Management System, too – so all aspects of a learner’s learning journey are gamified.
4. Think Outside The Box
We’ve already written about how important it is to think outside the box – it opens us up to all sorts of new experiences and possibilities that we hadn’t even considered before. And, whaddya know, it also helps us learn new things, too! So keep an open mind and embrace your natural questioning nature; you never know when it’ll pay off and you’ll uncover something truly incredible.
5. Teach Someone Else
There are two ways we know for sure that we’ve learnt something: we can apply it in our day-to-day lives (more about that here), and we can teach it to other people. The reason that our Learning Management System is so great at getting learners to really understand what they’re being taught and retain the information is that we understand the importance of social learning. When learners log on to our LMS, they can communicate with their fellow learners, share their ideas and collaborate on projects. So if you’re not sure whether you’ve understood something fully, hop on board the LMS and check your knowledge by pitting yourself against your colleagues!
6: Get a Good Night’s Sleep
If you want to become a better learner then the very best thing you can do is… get a good night sleep. Sleep not only improves focus but assists with memory and retention as well. If you want to learn then a good nights sleep will supercharge your efforts!
7: Become Part of a Community
People LOVE to learn together.
Learning is great fun on your own, but when you spend time with other people pursuing shared knowledge-goals it becomes even more enjoyable. Having this sense of camaraderie also helps you stay focused and maintain your sense of curiosity. As you all learn together you’ll feed each other’s excitement. A great place to start learning more about a topic is online forums.
8: Stretch Yourself
We don’t just your early morning yoga – we mean brain yoga. Always push your mind to consume new information – wrestling with ideas and concepts that really test you is a brilliant way to stretch your brain and improve your powers of cognition.
9: Stay Inquisitive
Learning is a long game. Knowledge, understanding and wisdom all build up cumulatively over many years. This means you need to maintain your curiosity over decades, not weeks. To do this you need to find the fascination in the everyday. If you can manage the long-haul flight to intelligence you’ll one day be an incredibly successful person.
As the ever-insightful Dr Seuss wrote: The more things you learn, the more you’ll know. The more things you know, the more places you’ll go! And boy, was he on the money.
10: Stay Motivated
Just like with point nine, you need to stay energised to win the long game. Staying inquisitive is essential because it will help you stay motivated. Sometimes curiosity will carry you, other times it will require intense discipline. Did you know Bill Gates reads roughly one book each week? We’re not talking light reading either.
This means that knowledge can require real motivation and investment.
11: Remove Distractions
If you want knowledge to make its way into the long-term part of your memory, it helps to focus. Distractions are the enemy of study. We now live in a world where memes and videos are everywhere and if you’re not careful, they can take up every second of your spare time.
To focus on learning it can be helpful to put your phone on aeroplane mode (after having downloaded your learning content to your app of course!). If you’re able to, take yourself off to a room where you can focus (unless you’re learning with others, of course!).
12: Spend Time With People You Want To Learn From
Make sure that the people you’re networking with, working with and have as friends inspire you to learn. One of the greatest sources of motivation in life are the people you spend time with. Having friends who inspire you to learn more and strive to become a better learner is important.
13: Seek Feedback
Get input from people you trust. A brilliant way to do this is using the experts feature on learning tech with social functionality. Having experts at your fingertips who are keen to answer your questions and help you develop is a rare treat!
Showing these experts your work and getting their thoughts on how you can improve is one of the easiest and most practical ways to become better at something.
14: Use Different Mediums
Make sure to try and absorb information from all sorts of different formats. Whether it’s listening to podcasts at the gym, reading books at lunch or watching videos at home – absorbing information in different ways helps it to stick.
Never learn something just once, or in only one way. Mix things up. Not only does it help you learn, but it’s much more fun!
15: Exercise and Diet Matter
Exercise and direct make a huge difference to your bodies ability to take in knowledge. Exercise releases endorphins and hormones that can help your brain to make information stick, whilst having the right diet will make sure your body has everything it needs to build neural pathways and retain information.
You cannot overstate the importance of learning for a happy life. This means becoming a better learner isn’t just a bit of fun – it could transform your life!
Understanding how you learn and how you can change your behaviour is a vital skill. It won’t just help you absorb knowledge, but could help you become better at your job and could even help you with exercise, diet and all sorts! Understanding behaviour won’t just help you learn – but it’ll you become a better person.
If you want to learn more about behaviour change and learning, you’ll love our Guide To The Science of Behaviour Change. It makes cutting edge science accessible and will help you make practical changes to the way that you learn!