How to learn efficiently
7 simple tips for students and autodidacts
1. Be focused
An important factor of learning efficiently is to concentrate completely on what you’re doing. Every kind of distraction should be avoided. This is only possible if you’re consciously concentrating. Different sounds, radio broadcasting informative material, television, telephone calls as well as other interruptions are distracting. Even the environment can influence your concentration. Things to consider when arranging a room where learners and teachers feel comfortable can be found here: The perfect classroom.
2. Supply your body and brain with energy
Your brain has to be supplied with energy during the learning process. To do that, remember the following facts:
- Well-working blood circulation is an advantage, which can be supported by regular physical exercise.
- Your body needs time to recover. Enough sleep is therefore vital. 8 hours per day is the ideal amount of sleep for adults, 9 hours for teenagers between 12 and 16 years.
- A balanced and healthy diet supplies your body with energy.
- Your body needs oxygen for converting energy. Making breaks between learning intervals are excellent opportunities to regain oxygen balance.
- Consequently, people who exercise regularly are able to learn much easier, according to experts from the University of Dundee in Scotland. More on that article here.
3. Repeat in 10-minute intervals
Repeat what you’ve learned during the day in the evening or in the morning the following day. Contributing 10 minutes to each subject is enough. Think about the content and what has been new to you. To summarise everything you’ve learned you can use a notebook. Write down everything that is on your mind, including terminology, sketches, open questions or even full sentences. Reread these notes before starting a new unit. It only takes a few times for you to realise how actively you’ll be starting a new unit.
The scientist Hermann Ebbinghaus (1859 – 1909) found that repeating at least 3 times is a must. Why? And what time intervals are best? More information here: Repeat it – or lose it!
4. Don’t worry about questions – search the blog
A task or explanation may be unclear to you. If you have uncertainties, you should always clarify your questions immediately – especially when doing modularly structured tasks. Even if implicit learning, (intuitive learning so-to-speak), is one of the most important things when using brain-friendly learning methods, never let your questions remain unanswered, regardless of the level of knowledge you’ve achieved (for information on implicit vs. explicit learning click here).
However, it’s quite common to feel uncomfortable asking questions when studying in groups. Talk to your teacher about the issue and try to find a solution.
If you’re learning on your own, search for answers online, for example here at this blog!
5. Make a weekly plan
A weekly plan helps you to get an overview. To make up a learning plan, you can follow these tips: Plan on how much time you want to spend to achieve your goals each week. Every student should make a time plan for every subject. Divide the time you want to spend on learning into 10-minute intervals (more on short learning intervals here “Short-term intervals leading to success”). Complete a weekly plan with all your appointments. Then mark the time gaps you want to spend on learning. But don’t forget: make your plan viable!
After every learning session write down where you didn’t follow your plan and note down where time planning improvement is needed.
You can find a weekly plan example here: 5 exercises for perfect language learning – your weekly planner.
6. Take minutes
In addition to your weekly planner, you can take minutes writing down everything you’ve learned. For more information on planning and managing your learning sessions click here: How to achieve your goals! – including free learning minutes!
7. Evaluate your results
Take your time to evaluate your learning results! You can follow these questions:
- What do I actually know? What did I forget?
- Can I classify what I’ve forgotten?
- Why do I have gaps?
- How can I fill those gaps?
- Is it useful to fill the gaps?
- Which gaps do I want to fill?
- How will I achieve that? How can I integrate that into my weekly plan?
A proven method to measure your results is your vocabulary. Find out how you can determine and measure it, here: Your vocabulary and what it’s good for.
Just follow these seven simple tips for efficient learning, and you’ll find out that you’re going to internalise important contents completely automatically and that you’ll require less time.