How to Learn Faster

Do you believe you are “not a quick learner?” Did that perhaps come from an overworked teacher at school? What if you are a good learner, and even more, what if there were proven techniques you could apply to improve how well you learn?

Being able to learn quickly has become an absolute essential of survival in the workplace. We constantly need to learn new systems, new techniques, or even new ways of doing our jobs as the culture and leadership changes.

Luckily, there are proven ways to speed up your learning, so you can achieve more in less time.

1. Keep a beginner’s mind

Even if you have been studying this field or skill for years, try to approach your next learning like a beginner. When you see yourself as an expert, you tend to be blind to unusual happenings, you assume things are a certain way. Beginners are more open to alternative ways of thinking and ask more questions.

2. Use a digital brain

A whole range of apps exist on your phone – use them. Not to procrastinate or distract yourself, but to help you remember things. A digital brain is like a second brain you can use to capture, organise, retrieve, and archive information, ideas and thoughts. If you use an online calendar, or master password app, you are tapping into your digital brain, but there is so much more you can do. You can use apps to remember to do lists, facts, formulae, links to read later, and you can even record someone delivering a presentation or speech (with permission of course). Try an app such as Evernote, Bear or OneNote.

3. Spaced Repetition

You know how your high school teacher told you to revise regularly and often for exams? They were right. The best way to remember information is to recall it soon afterwards. Spaced repetition looks like this:

  • Within 24 hours of learning something, write down notes for yourself and then review them by reading those notes then looking away to recall the most important points.
  • Within 48 hours (ie. the next day), try to recall the information with minimal reading of your notes.
  • Within 72 hours, recall the information again, as you go about your day, eg while waiting in line or walking to the station.
  • A few days later, read through the information all over again.

4. Break it down

Trying to learn something new all at once can set you up for failure. Say you want to learn how to surf. Expecting yourself to be able to stand up on a surfboard right away and catch a wave will only make you feel overwhelmed. Instead, break down each task into manageable bits. For example, start by learning how to jump up from lying to standing. Then learn how to swap your feet. Practice each skill with full attention before moving onto the next.