Hey everyone, it’s been an intense couple of weeks. This post was meant to go up much earlier but I had to put it on halt due to everything that was going on. Remember to take time out to rest and recharge before you dive back into work.

Learning is emotional

The first thing to emphasize before we dive deeper into learning techniques is that our emotions affect how we learn. There is a reason we want to do activities that are less strenuous and bring us pleasure. We have heard of dopamine, the chemical neurotransmitter that is usually blamed for a person’s addiction to social media. The truth is that we need dopamine, because it is the substance that keeps us motivated. Without dopamine, we would feel largely unmotivated and fail to do anything. Back to learning, our brains are wired to perform activities that bring us rewards, both immediate and distant. Linking our reason for learning to a much larger goal is essential to keep us motivated and on track. It is biologically profitable to build a reward system for activities. Having a clearly defined goal and reason will help you perform activities that don’t bring immediate result.       

Key steps:

  • Before you begin learning a new skill or course, set a goal that resonates with you and your purpose.
  • Develop a reward system; it could be as simple as rewarding yourself with a Netflix episode after completing your learning task.
  • Eat your frogs; do the harder tasks first. It is better to gift yourself after the task and not before!

The Pomodoro Technique

Pomodoro

This is a technique that I have tried and tested, it works! If you struggle with procrastination, this technique is a game-changer. ‘Pomodoro’ is the Italian word for ‘tomato’. It is essentially setting brief periods of time where you perform focused work. For example, if you keep procrastinating writing a report, you can set a 15 minutes timer. During this period you write intently. After the timer rings, you take a 5 minutes break and set another 15 minutes to concentrate on your work. 

Anecdote: I used this technique earlier in quarantine to help me write consistently. Every day, I used the fifteen minute timer to focus on writing. Once the timer rings, I moved to other activities.

Note: You can apply this to your specific needs. Some people can focus consistently for an hour and some, for thirty minutes. Use this according to your ability and needs. Remember that you can also train yourself to focus for a longer period of time.

The Two learning modes: Focused and Diffused

There are two learning modes in which the brain operates when trying to learn a concept. The focused mode occurs when you concentrate on a particular thing for a period of time. At this point, neural patterns are being formed. During your relaxation period, the diffused mode works in the background and improves your conceptual understanding. Switching to the diffused mode is as simple as taking a walk and letting your brain make stronger connections with the concepts you have learnt.

Key steps:

  • Set a timer for 20/25 minutes. Focus intently on your work, place distractions far away from you.
  • During your 5 minutes break, relax and let your brain strengthen the connections between the concepts you have learnt.

The Recall Technique

The last technique for this post is the Recall Technique. It is simply trying to recall the material that you have read. When you’ve read a material, simply look away, and see what you can recall from it. It is also advisable to try and recall the material outside your usual place of study. When we learn something new, we usually take subliminal cues from our environment; it is important to recall what we have learnt outside our study place in order to strengthen our grasp of the material.

Key steps:

  • Try and recall what you have read after learning something new.

This is the first post on about learning how to learn and study tips. We will dive into other tips in the next post.  The first book we would be reading is “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. A book review was requested on it and I think it should be the first book for our book club. It is a “no fluff” book that teaches you how to develop long lasting habits.

-Love, Adeoluwa

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