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How to be a better learner

To learn new skills, you first have to learn how to learn. Explore how you can evaluate your learning process and streamline it, so you can learn better and faster.

Matt Bristow Digital Marketing Specialist

A news anchors saying "Be better! No - be best!"

With the increasing digitisation of the workforce, learning new skills has become more and more important. But if you are thinking about becoming an AI wunderkind, or sculpting your soft skills, you need to consider how to make your learning process efficient and effective. This handy article will help you consider how you learn, and how to overcome common roadblocks to streamline your learning process.

 

What are study skills?

 

Being an effective learner isn’t a have or have not deal. It’s a combination of skills, just like being a good driver or good artist. To become a better learner you need to isolate your separate study skills, and identify where you are weakest, so you know where to focus your efforts. Examples of study skills include :

  • Reading
  • Listening
  • Mental recall
  • Spacing or distributed learning
  • Time management 
  • Focus
  • Testing
  • Ability to summarise 

All of the skills above can be practised and developed with patience and effort. Identify your weakest of these areas and you are well on your way to becoming the best learner you can be.

 

What are common roadblocks to learning?

 

Making sure you are aware of potential obstacles in your learning journey is a key step to becoming the best version of yourself and levelling up your skills. Now, we know that learning roadblocks vary heavily between people as no two learners are the same, but here is a list of common barriers to learning efficiently and quickly.

  • Procrastination
  • Ignoring short-term rewards
  • Trying to cram learning all into one go
  • Not picking the right environment for learning
  • Allowing fear of failure to stop you
  • Allowing slow progress to stop you
  • Working too hard or too often

 

How do you become a quicker learner?

 

Learning quicker is all about understanding a small bit of human psychology. 

 

Humans prefer short term, tangible rewards over long term, intangible rewards. 

 

This is particularly relevant when it comes to learning new skills, and goes a long way to describe why we get distracted and procrastinate. Our brains struggle to perceive the longer term rewards like graduation, completion of a course or a new skill learned, and subsequently pursue short term rewards like watching TV, going on social media or even productive activities like cleaning (who hasn’t cleaned their entire house with a toothbrush when they had a deadline).

 

To become a quicker and more productive learner, it is a good idea to break the long term goal (i.e. finishing a course), into smaller goals (i.e. completing 2 modules). This allows your brain to be satiated with numerous small term goals whilst you are working towards the long term goal. Mapping out the journey to your desired outcome and breaking that journey up into several quick steps is the key to learning new skills quicker and more easily.

How do you know you are becoming a better learner?

 

Learning a new skill isn’t binary. You don’t start by not knowing how to code JavaScript or speak French and then one day you wake up able to create the most visited French blog on the Internet. 

 

Learning is made up of small steps and small setbacks, so it is important to recognise little victories along the way. Were you able to implement your new skill at work or at home? Have you started to think of practical ways you can apply your new skill? And the most important thing to consider is “Am I feeling more confident and fulfilled than when I started?”. If the answer is yes, then you are on the right track.

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