Being an effective learner isn’t easy, and it doesn’t come naturally to everyone (and that’s okay!). Over the years, I’ve discovered that there are several key strategies that can help you build the learning habit and become more efficient with your time spent studying. Here are 7 habits of highly effective learners, which you can begin to practice today!
1) Listening to Podcasts and Audiobooks
No matter what you’re trying to learn, a podcast or audiobook is a great way to go about it. Rather than passively reading through an introductory textbook or going through interactive videos, podcasts and audiobooks offer a more natural feel for learning that many people enjoy. Plus, they can be consumed at your own pace and won’t take up valuable study time. If you want to learn something new—or gain a different perspective on what you already know—set aside some time each day to listen to or read something educational. You might be surprised by how much you enjoy yourself along the way!
2) Watching Video Tutorials
One surefire way to learn faster and more engagingly is to watch a video tutorial. We tend to retain things we see much better than if we read about them. After watching a few video tutorials on how to do something, you’ll have a real world example that will help you when it comes time to perform that task for yourself. Watch them in your spare time, when you have downtime at work or while taking a break from that daunting project you have been working on for hours.
3) Learning new things from people who are good at it
There’s a lot you can learn from watching someone who is good at what you want to do, and there are even more things you can learn by talking to them about it. Be honest with yourself: who do you look up to and why? Who gets you excited and motivated? Make a point to get in touch with that person, or at least find someone like them.
4) Getting Exposure
Get about what you learn, as experience makes a better teacher. The more you expose yourself to new experiences, people, and learning opportunities, then your chances for success increase. I’m not suggesting you try everything under the sun—I mean start by getting out of your comfort zone in small ways. Challenge yourself to try something new every day, be it reading a book on a topic you know nothing about or attending an event that is outside your circle of friends. Eventually, when given time and patience (and consistency), these daily exposures will build into larger actions like picking up a foreign language or finally taking that online course in solar panels that has been sitting in your to-do list forever.
5) Keeping an Open Mind
A little skepticism can be healthy when learning something new, but it’s important to consider all perspectives. It’s crucial that you don’t set out with a preconceived notion of what you want to learn, or what will work for you, because there are infinite ways in which you can achieve your goals. Instead, remain open-minded and seek out mentors who might show you something new. As long as you keep an inquisitive mind, you’ll always have room to grow.
6) Sharing what is learnt with others
So we all want to learn, but then we stop ourselves from learning when we realize that sharing what we’ve learnt is going to be a hassle. It seems like too much work or just plain not worth it. But when you have different goals in mind, it suddenly becomes easier to share your knowledge with others. Sharing what you’ve learnt not only helps other people in their own journey, but it also increases how much you retain what you’ve learnt because you have to organize it for someone else in a coherent manner.
7) Lastly, knowing your Strengths and Weaknesses
Focus on your strengths, is often repeated advice given to young people. But too often, we forget to take it ourselves. If you want to be a better learner, you have to know what your strengths are—and leverage them accordingly. What are your favorite ways to learn? Are you someone who learns best through reading? Watching videos? Hearing information spoken aloud? Understanding concepts in groups or alone? Finding out how you prefer to learn can help define how you approach learning. No one learning method is more effective than another; just different. Once you understand how best to process new information, find ways to incorporate that into your day-to-day routine so that processing feels natural and comfortable for you.