Hope 2018 is being kind to you.A willingness to learn is paramount for 2018. Alistair Cox, CEO of Hays plc, in his LinkedIn Influencer blog advice that you “plug any gaps in your knowledge by keeping on top of current trends and changes relevant to your sector by reading reports, news articles, attending networking functions and seminars, and participating in online discussions”. So, In the spirit of this being a new year and me being a huge fan of learning, I thought I’d publish a post about how you can be a better learner.
As always, if you need any clarification or have any feedback, leave those in the Comments below. If you found the article helpful, hit Like.”The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr Seuss.Continuous learning is the only way you’ll go places. What you know today or your qualifications imply that you know will become obsolete soon enough. An article on Deloitte Insights stated that “The half-life of skills is rapidly falling, placing huge demands on learning in the digital age.
“I know, right? As the half-life of your learned skills falls to about five years, you need to figure out how to stay relevant in a world that’s in a state of flux. Well, that’s actually kinda easy.Learning ResourcesCollege course: Nothing can beat the validity and effectiveness of a university level course. If you are able to take a sabbatical for a year, go back to college and pick up another masters degree, maybe. Alternatively, you could sign up for distance education courses that’ll allow you learn as you work.Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs): These are becoming very popular and many universities now host such MOOCs on websites like Coursera, edx, Khan Academy, Udemy and Udacity, to name a few. You have a variety of options with these- you can pay for the course and get a certificate or audit the course and learn everything for free.
;)Books: Yet another wonderful source of knowledge. Find a bunch of books on the topic and read them. Simple as that. Read the article Read to Lead for tips on how you can get through tough books.
Documentaries: Through such films, you can see a dramatized version of the information. It could give you more context and a better understanding of anything related that you might read in the future.TED Talks: If you have some time during your commute or during lunch or during tea, this is the way to go. If you follow this link, you’ll find playlists curated by TED. Multiple talks on a topic will give you different perspectives.
An Experts’ Guide to LearningRyan Holiday’s Swarm Strategy: According to this strategy, you use a variety of resources and essentially, swarm the subject. You would use books, any online learning resources, documentaries etc. This is total immersion in the subject. You read things by multiple authors in order to get multiple perspectives.
Elon Musk’s Two-Step Process:Deconstructing knowledge down to its fundamental principles: One approach that you can adopt is contrasting cases. You look at a concept in different contexts and identify what stays the same and what changes. This will help you understand the basics of that concept.Reconstructing them in new fields: This is critically thinking about what you learned. Ask yourself two questions- “what does this remind me of?” and “why does it remind me of it?”.
This will help you apply your learning to different fields. You can read more about this at this link.Benjamin Franklin’s Method: He would take out one hour a day every weekday; he is a prolific learner if there ever was one. In fact, he taught himself to learn and write better. His technique involved:Dissect and reconstruct: What he would do is pick an article and jot down notes on it. After a couple of days, he’d go back and write the article in his own words.
Add artificial constraints: Franklin would convert his prose to poetry and after a few days, he’d convert it back into prose again. This way he’d be able to use a stock of words that he’d amassed and write the prose in different ways.TipsCarve out some time every day for learning. Don’t say you don’t have time; you do.
Analyse and identify where you are wasting time and use that for good.Start with the basics. You could get one of the books from the Dummies series and use that as a starting point for the topic you want to learn and then gradually, move onto books that are harder.Take some time every day or every week to think about you learned and connect it what you see around you if you can.
Take notes as you learn. I had published a post about this earlier that you can refer to. Writing down thoughts and quotes that you like is a good way to retain that information. Test out different note-taking methods before deciding which works best for you. You could try creating mind maps or the Cornell method or the Smart Wisdom note-taking method, to name a few.Annotate in your books or ebook readers. This is an easier way to keep your notes and the primary content in the same place.
Teach what you learn. This is the best way to get a good grasp on the information. You could either conduct quick training sessions at work or publish a blog about it. As was quoted in some movie I watched a long time ago, “human knowledge belongs to the world”.Be observant. Watch out for how the world works.
If you learn international relations theory, apply it to the world and see how it comes to life. If you are learning body language, then engage in some people-watching to see your knowledge in action and to test how good you are getting at it.Be kind to yourself. Don’t think you can power through with your learning for 16 hours at a stretch; it’s not possible. You could use the Pomodoro technique to time yourself and remind you to take breaks.Hope these tips help you in some way.Happy learning!