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12 Powerful Learning Strategies to Help You Retain Info Fast

Learning is the input for growth. It is a crucial aspect of life. If you want to experience growth in all aspects of your life, then you need to invest in learning.

However, learning takes time, and time is a rare asset. So how can you maximize your time by learning and retaining info fast? Here’re 12 powerful learning strategies that can widen your horizon and help you retain information at lightning speed.

1. Hone Your Note-Taking Skills

I have found out that the old-fashioned way of taking notes is more effective than typing your notes on the sticky notes provided by your device. If you want to learn faster, forget the laptop and use your pen and paper to take notes. Research showed that students who use paper and pen to take notes in class retain more information than those who type their lecture notes on a laptop. ((University of Colorado: Is Note-Taking More Effective with a Keyboard or a Pen?))

Writing skills utilize different sections of your brain than reading. When you spend time to write a thought in your notepad having reviewed the material, you will have additional opportunities to cover the concept again. This will interest visual learners while the auditory learners can read the content aloud in addition to writing it down.

While it may be difficult and slower to take notes by hand instead of typing, writing fosters retention, and comprehension. You reframe information longer in your mind when you write with your hand. This means you can quickly recall info and perform better during an examination.

In fact, quality notes aid faster learning. Developing the capability of taking accurate notes will assist you to grasp concepts and gain a thorough understanding of the subject matter. Therefore, it is better to learn the art and strategies of note-taking before you learn a new idea.

This skill will help you to organize your class notes into digestible bits. For instance, if you are participating in an online course, don’t just watch, and do the following:

  • Listen, summarize the knowledge gained and then take notes.
  • Create lines and spaces between the main concepts so you can add more info subsequently during revision.
  • Use symbols and abbreviations to save time.
  • Write in phrases instead of complete sentences.
  • Pull out the necessary info and neglect the trivial ones.

You can also take a look at these 7 Simple Note Taking Techniques for Efficient Learning.

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2. Study, Sleep and Study More

Do you have an important presentation and you haven’t found time to prepare?

Most individuals who find themselves in this situation would rather stay overnight and cram before the presentation. The exciting thing is the hard work will surely be compensated even if you become exhausted the following day. However, that’s not the most effective learning strategy to retain info fast.

Now, here is the fact:

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Research has found out that there is a correlation between sleep and learning. Sleep aids learning by optimizing your focus. You cannot focus if you deprive yourself of quality sleep. Not only that, sleep facilitates memory consolidation, which is crucial for learning to take place.((Harvard: Sleep, Learning, and Memory.))

Getting some sleep empowers your brain to recall quickly. Deep sleep before learning new information can strengthen memory. If you study and get some shut-eye, you will not only be able to explore more, but you will attain peak performance in your learning experience.

3. Tweak Your Practice

Someone says you cannot repeat the same process and achieve a different result. Making some adjustments in recurring practice lessons will empower you to gain a new skill faster instead of adhering to a routine.

You can learn a skill by watching YouTube videos, play games, or read a guide in a textbook. Another related example is changing the size of your racket when perfecting your lawn tennis game.

4. Use a Mnemonic Strategy

This has been found out to be one of the time-tested learning strategies. You can learn anything faster by trying a mnemonic approach — sounds, letter patterns, or other methods that help you learn a concept. This was very popular in the kindergarten in learning the alphabet. Children can ‘know their ABCs’ thanks to the alphabet song and still retain this information even till adulthood.

Mnemonics will help you summarize, simplify, and compress the information so it can be easier to retain. This strategy is useful for medical or law students, or individuals studying a language.

So if you want to retain substantial information, adopt a mnemonic method, and you will discover you can recall information beyond your examination.

5. Discover Your Peak Moment When You Are the Most Attentive and Alert

You have a sharp focus at some specific period of the day. This differs from person to person. Some are early risers, while others are night owls. Discovering your uniqueness will assist you in knowing what period of the day you can retain info faster. ((BrainyDose: Early Birds vs Night Owls – Explained ))

6. Focus on Topics One After the Other

Some concepts require an additional amount of concentration to grasp fully. Jumping from one topic to the other can make your efforts to be fruitless, which will limit you from retaining the info.

7. Pause

We always want to rush through a material anytime we are reading. The outcome is obvious-limited retention.

Absorb info in small bits, pause to think on what you have read, revise the concept, then proceed.

8. Make it Pleasurable

If you are struggling to learn a topic, personalize it. You can do this by finding out how it applies to your personal life or career.

9. Utilize Brain Breaks to Regain Focus

Information overload is real. Do you know that your brains need to communicate signals to your sensory receptors to store new information? This process can be hindered by stress.

Your brains automatically shut down when you are anxious, confused, or overwhelmed. You can notice these among learners during a long lecture. They will stop paying rapt attention to what’s being taught. They can’t just retain information in their memory storage device.

One of the best learning strategies to handle this is to go on a ‘brain break ‘ or divert your attention to something different. You could see a five-minute motivational video to unclog your mind or do something that interests you.

10. Stay Hydrated

You have read that water is beneficial to your body system and skin. It optimizes your body performance and boosts your immune system. Now staying hydrated also impacts your cognitive performance positively. You can become smarter when you drink water.

Here’s the gist:

A study found out that students who take water to the examination hall performed better compared to those who did not.((BBC.com: Drinking water improves exam grades, research suggests))

Dehydration can affect your cognitive abilities. You stress your brain when you don’t drink water.

11. Link What You Learn with Previous Knowledge

You will grasp new information faster if you link new concepts with an existing idea you already have. In the book, Make it Stick, the authors wrote that related study habits are most times counterproductive. They may establish an illusion of comprehension and mastery, but the knowledge fades away from our memory quickly.

Memory is crucial when it comes to implementing difficult cognitive tasks like the application of knowledge to new tasks and the drawing of inferences from already known details or facts. By discovering the means of aligning new knowledge with previous experience, you will find extra layers of understanding in the new topic. This will help you learn faster and retain info at lightning speed.

Guess who loves using this technique? Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX and Tesla. Elon compares knowledge to a semantic tree. He advises ensuring you grasp the principles — the trunk and the branches before diving into the leaves or details. That way, you will find something to hang on to. You supply the mental hook when you link new knowledge to the old.((Inc.com: Elon Musk’s Secret for Learning Anything Faster))

12. Teach Others

If you find it challenging to explain a concept to others, you might as well find it challenging to retain the concept. Studies have found out that the average individual retains 90% of what was learned only when they teach others or practice the concept immediately. You can discover your weak points when you apply or teach a concept.

Do you want to retain info faster? Then, revisit the material until you become confident to impact the knowledge to others.

Bottom Line

Great learners are still learning how to learn. Since learning is a lifelong affair, discover the learning strategies that work for you. Don’t try to rush through a concept, learn the simple concepts, and build on the previous knowledge while taking complex concepts.

The more you practice those learning strategies shared, the better you become at being a great learner like Elon Musk!

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