The brain is perhaps the most powerful asset that we have. But do we use it to its full potential? Not even close! However, we can use it as much as we can to learn new skills. You may not end up becoming a master of every skill but you can become the jack of all trades. And this is can help you being adaptive to so many unanticipated changes in life.
Around 73% of Americans think that they are lifelong learners. And a whopping percentage of people have pursued learning a new skill, claiming that it made them feel fuller, capable, and well-rounded. I recently got a chance to read about people’s experiences post-learning a skill with my Spectrum internet. It was inspiring and they shared how it led to achieving personal improvements, gaining confidence, and a fresh perspective in life.
Let’s discuss some effective ways to learn new skills in detail.
Try Learning in Short Bursts of Time
Instead of learning a skill for extensive hours, dedicating 30 to 50 minutes to learn new material is the right strategy. It shouldn’t be less than 30 and more than 50 because the former is not enough and the latter is too much info for the brain to take at a time.
If you think you have more stamina and learning capacity, make sure you take a break of 5-10 minutes before starting the next learning session. As a rule of thumb, remember that long and infrequent learning sessions are way ineffective than brief and infrequent ones.
Changing the way you practice a particular motor skill is also an effective way to master it. also, consider microlearning sessions.
Teach the Skill to Someone Else
Several studies suggest that teaching someone else the task or material that you are trying to grasp is a great way to boost your learning process. The expectation of the person you are teaching changes your mindset. This results in better engagement with effective approaches to learning. You no longer learn like a student, just to pass the test. But you learn it to master it.
When your task is to teach, you try to pinpoint key points and organize info to form a coherent structure. This helps in better learning and having clearer concepts. When you plan to teach it in the future, you use robust and effective learning strategies.
Moreover, sleeping or even napping between two learning sessions can greatly improve retention.
Consider Taking Notes by Hand
Yes, it is easier and more convenient to take notes on a laptop. But using a paper and pen will help you comprehend and learn the skill in a better way. Researchers at various universities found that whenever students take notes by hand, they listened and observed more attentively. They were able to identify and retain important concepts.
Moreover, taking notes on a laptop is an opportunity for distractions. Compared to the students who took notes longhand, students who took notes on laptops didn’t perform very well. Taking notes on a laptop was more like transcribing lectures verbatim instead of processing the info and rephrasing it in their own words.
This may sound trivial but it is pivotal to learning.
Leverage the Power of Distributed Learning or Mental Spacing
It may sound counterintuitive but you can actually learn faster if you practice spacing or distributed learning. Learning is more like watering a lawn. You can either water the lawn for 90 minutes once a week or you can water it for 30 minutes thrice a week.
However, if you choose to space out watering during the week, the lawn will be greener over time. The same is the case with learning. To retain a skill or material that you have learned, the best practice is to review the info one or two days after you first learned it.
Another opinion is that the brain pays less attention during brief learning intervals. Therefore, repeating the info over a longer interval-a week or a few days later instead of rapid succession is more effective.
Practice Makes Perfect
Learning a skill is more than just taking notes and revising the learned theory. It is more about practice. The more comfortable we are in knowing and practicing something, the easier it will be for our brains to adapt and master it.
Do you know that every time you pursue to learn something new, the chemistry of your brain changes? When you try to master a skill, the parts of your brain not involved in the performance of this activity undergo increased activity.
You will have a dramatic change in your attitude and mind. You will get to have a new perspective, allowing you to look beyond things, which you already know. Arguably, the more you learn, the better will be your understanding of the world. I helped my grandfather about the problem with the Spectrum TV streaming. He said that it was more like learning a new skill. And it made him feel good about being able to resolve a problem on his own.
Therefore, get ready to step out of your comfort zone and explore some new learning opportunities.