Our brain is wired for learning. That’s what we do since the moment we are born. However, as we get older, we often sabotage our learning process by using strategies that are not effective. Many people cram, pull all-nighters, or re-read the same information over and over. But that doesn’t help your brain learn. Rather, it hinders it.
Let’s take a look at these eleven evidence-based strategies for learning that will improve your memory and help you do better in any situation!
1. Give your full attention.
Paying attention is the first step to memorizing. To store information in our long-term memory, we first need to experience it fully. It’s important that you remove distractions from your environment.
If you are reading, while watching Netflix, you will probably not remember either the plot of the TV show or the information on the page very well once you are done. Giving your full attention is very important for learning, so remove distractions from your environment. Turn off your phone’s notifications too and stay on task.
2. Plentiful Sleep
When we sleep, our brain consolidates long-term memories. Without sleep, these memories can easily disappear, so it’s useful to put a good night’s sleep between your learning and your test. For example, If you study all night and show up for a test without sleeping, you may find that you don’t really remember what you studied!
This happens because, during sleep, everything we have done during the day is encoded and stored in a more permanent way. Has this ever happened to you?
3. Repeat and Repeat
Repetition helps us learn. We retain information that is repeated several times better, but it’s important to space it the right way. Repeat the topic, then take a break, and then repeat it again. Consider how much time you have for learning.
For example, if you have a week, try and space your repetition, going back to revise every second day. It won’t do you much good to repeat the same thing over and over again. Always take breaks between your study sessions!
4. Read out loud.
When you read out loud, you are processing the information in two ways: visually and through your hearing. That can improve retention. Also, it helps you understand and process the information better because if you read aloud, you have to read a little slow and pay more attention.
5. Learn from Multiple sources.
If you focus on a single source for knowledge, it can get boring after a while. And you start believing that you have learned the topic completely, which may not be true.
However, if you have the Internet, you can find many other sources to make your learning more fun and more comprehensive.
You can try other books, articles, YouTube videos (like this one), apps, and anything else that you find interesting. When you have multiple sources of information, you can understand the topic better and also make the process more engaging!
6. Teach others
When we teach things to others, we also understand the topic better and can find gaps in our knowledge.
Teaching is a form of revision, which also helps us to test our knowledge.
Additionally, It helps if there are others to ask questions. When we clarify their doubts, we also clear our own and expand our understanding.
If nobody is around to listen to the explanation, maybe give it to your dog or cat, or even to yourself in the mirror!
7. Learn in diffuse mode.
Our brain has two modes of operating: the focused mode and the diffuse mode. When we are in focused mode, all our attention is centered on what we are doing.
For example, when you are reading a chapter, it’s important that your brain is focused. The diffuse mode helps us cement the learning and truly understand the concepts. In diffuse mode, our brain is not focused on a single thing but rather is making connections and building a network with what we have just learned.
To help our brain enter into the diffuse mode, we can insert other activities in between our focused study sessions. Taking a walk, exercising, doodling, or doing anything else can be a great way to support your learning.
8. Listen to music.
Music helps us to be focused and relaxed. It reduces stress and can make learning more pleasant. But there are a couple of things to keep in mind when you are choosing the soundtrack for your study session.
It’s better to listen to music with no lyrics because the lyrics can be distracting. Instrumental works best. Music that you enjoy is always the way to go.
9. Handwritten notes
When you write by hand, you process the information on a whole other level. While typing may be faster but hand written notes are usually better for our memory because our brain processes the information in a different way.
Try to make your own notes for the things that you are studying, especially those topics that you struggle with. Don’t just copy everything down, however. It’s much better to try and find the key points to make your notes.
10. Test Yourself.
When you attempt to learn anything fast, then it is entirely possible to benefit from self-testing because this has been discovered to be an extremely effective way to speed up the learning process substantially.
Apparently, every time you test yourself, even if you answered incorrectly, then also you are still more likely to remember the correct answer after you have been forced to review the correct answer.
11. Make it interesting.
Make your learning as fun and varied as you can! This will help you remember things better and also keep you motivated. As famously said \”Knowledge, which is acquired under compulsion, obtains no hold on the mind.”
Here are a few ideas but feel free to add your own:
Use a board. Writing on a Board can be very engaging and also help you feel like a TV detective trying to solve a crime. Use a board to connect your ideas!
Mark the key points. Use a lot of colorful bookmarks, post-it notes, and other tools to keep track of the main ideas.
Draw a picture. Drawing can be a great strategy for learning because it helps you to open your creative side and process the information in a different way. If you find bizarre and funny images to link the information to, you will probably have more fun and also remember it much better.
Learn from videos. Videos can present information in a fun way and also stick with you. Find a channel you like and trust to complement your learning.
Make it a game. You can have a competition with a friend or with yourself. Who can learn this faster? Can you get it done in half an hour? Setting little goals and challenges can make the study session feel more engaging.
Give yourself a prize. You can have a chocolate or a movie waiting for you once you’re done. This can help you stay on track for a particularly heavy study session but don’t abuse this strategy, or you might find yourself eating too many sweets!
These eleven habits will definitely help you memorize things better in life.