How to Learn Better, Faster and More Efficiently
Becoming a student can be hard, but staying on top of everything you have to learn can be even harder. It can be difficult to absorb new information rapidly, keep it organised and recall it exactly when you need it.
We know this because Plymouth Training and Consultancy have been helping people of every age learn new material and acquire new skills for years. Over the years we have picked up a whole host of techniques to help students learn better, faster and more efficiently. In this post we share some of our top learning tips with you.
If you have to take on lots of new information, it can be helpful to create an acronym or mnemonic (pronounced NEM-ON-IK). Mnemonics typically use the first letter of each word to create a memorable phrase which acts as a "trigger" for your memory. For example, a mnemonic for the planets in the Solar System could be:
My Very Excited Mother Just Served Us Nine Pies (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto)
Acronyms are similar but are a word instead of a phrase. In the example above the acronym might be MVEMJSUNP which isn't a very memorable word, so in some cases you can see why a mnemonic is best. At other times however, acronyms are better; you may even commonly use some of these acronyms yourself: BRB (Be Right Back), BF (BoyFriend), ROFL (Rolling On the Floor Laughing), IMHO (In My Humble Opinion).
You can make your own acronyms or mnemonics for almost any subject, so if you are having trouble remembering a list or sequence, try turning it into an acronym or mnemonic.
The Power of Sleep
Getting a full night's sleep not only helps your body rest and recover from the previous day's activities, it can also help with higher-level problem solving. Research conducted by the University of California noted that getting plenty of sleep, including dreaming, helped improve creative thinking and problem solving.
Start the Day Right
Your mum always told you to eat your breakfast and there's a good reason to listen to her. Some people skip breakfast, but research has shown that we are often at our most creative in the early morning so it's good time to nourish your brain and set yourself up for the day ahead.
Take a Walk
If you're feeling foggy-headed after a day of learning, changing your surroundings can make a huge difference. In and around Plymouth, we're lucky to have some of the most beautiful environments in England, so if you're feeling tense, take a stroll on Plymouth Hoe, or out onto Dartmoor. Even taking a short walk around your neighborhood in one of the many parks here could help you clear your mind, as well as limber up your learning muscles.
There is a time and place for multi-tasking. It can be a very effective way to get things done when times are busy. You have a busy life, but sometimes it is necessarily to take your eyes off the many things around you and focus on just one thing: your studies. Try to find somewhere without distractions. Pick a room away from the television. If you can, find a room away from other members of the family. Turn off your smartphone. It may seem impossible sometimes, but it's important that during your study sessions, you try to avoid thinking about family, work or any problems you may be facing.
Research has shown that certain types of music can help learners with memory recall. Try listening to a particular piece of music while studying or revising. Then try to recall those facts when you hear that music again. This can be an incredibly effective technique. Try it, it really works for many people,
Some facts or lists of things can be incredibly hard to recall later. We all come across this problem when studying. One really effective technique for turning dull, dry facts into memorable information is to turn it into a story. For example, if you have to remember a list of 5 items (dog, red, cake, fish, clock), try to create a story involving them all. Try this: “There was once a dog named Red, who stole a piece of cake from his owner's favourite plate decorated with a smiling fish and hid behind the grandfather clock to eat it”. It's easier to remember the story than the list, but you can extract the list from the story. This is also a handy exam technique if you need one.
We all know that brainstorming can be an effective way to generate ideas, but it’s even more effective in a group. There are a few simple rules to follow: never ignore anyone’s idea, don’t be tempted to “correct” ideas as they are suggested simply record every idea, you can dissect them later. Brainstorming can be a way to take advantage of the principle that (more than) two minds are better than one.
Stop Typing Start Writing
Everybody has a tablet or laptop handy and it can seem sensible to type your notes directly into it to save time. But there are real benefits to writing notes by hand. Writing is a kinaesthetic experience, it involves more than just your fingers. When you write, you body is as engaged as your brain in the activity. This produces a more holistic experience which makes recall easier later for many people.
Post-it (other brands are available!) notes and index cards are not only an effective way to organise your notebooks, textbooks and folders, they provide another multi-sensory way to connect with your information. Sticky notes are a great way to write comments and annotate sections of your textbooks without defacing them permanently. Never underestimate how useful this can be for you. It may seem old-fashioned and quaint today, but it has worked for generations of learners.
It's great being in charge of your own time, choosing when to study and when not to. However too much freedom can easily devolve into chaos. Ask anyone who has left their essay until the night before the deadline. Help yourself out by giving yourself early deadlines, and limiting how much time you allow for a project. By focusing more tightly and imposing extra discipline on yourself, you'll be surprised by how much learning you will achieve, and how much more efficiently you will manage your time.
Get Started Now
There really is no better time to start improving your learning skills than right away. Try out some of the techniques in this post and if you find them helpful, we'd love to hear about it.
If you are interested in discussing your training needs with Plymouth Training and Consultancy, simply call 01752 564342 or visit us for advice and guidance. Our contact details and location are all available on our website.