It’s true: learning doesn’t happen instantaneously. There’s no magic bullet. But there is a way that you can hack your brain to accelerate learning, memory retention, and overall cognition in a long-term, sustained manner.
One thing to remember is that you can learn for as long as you live – that’s the magic of being human. However, aging can hamper your ability to learn optimally. This is where learning hacks come in really handy and you can excel both at work/school and in everyday life.
Here are seven learning and memory hacks to start with:
#1: Pause to Think and Absorb Information
Research has highlighted the magic of reading through text one through cold, then marking up the relevant parts on your second pass. Through thinking through the points more carefully (and their importance in the overall material), active processing is activated and encouraged. Active processing, after all, is deemed essential in forming stronger memories.
#2: Aim for Shorter Learning Sessions
This one’s related to the first advice – and for a good, solid reason. Did you know that an average person’s attention span is no more than a couple of minutes? While there’s no conclusive evidence on the exact figure, there are sources that point to as little as 8 to 10 seconds to as much as 10 to 15 minutes.
Now, let’s say we’ve agreed that humans are unable to focus on anything for too long, and that the brain stops absorbing stuff being fed to it. This means you should stop wasting your time and effort on protracted learning sessions. Instead for short yet multiple sessions that will be more productive learning-wise. For instance, the brain can retain information efficiently with one part learned every day rather than the entire content.
#3: Give Your Brain a Schedule
Your brain actually has a mental clock, where if you set a specific alarm for waking up in the morning you’ll slowly get used to it that you won’t even need the alarm eventually. Thus it also helps retain information better if your brain has a routine and a regular schedule for learning things. This way, the organ can develop the ability to take in new information within a pocket of time and systematically.
#4: Look for Deep Patterns
Let’s say you’re a student at the university. It turns out that there’s scientific proof behind students with course outline performing better in school: it enables them to find the underlying connections between various topics. This is why it’s often recommended to start with a skeletal outline before venturing to study and then supply more of the details over time.
Being concise is an important key, as there’s greater learning in focusing on a structure rather than getting lost in the particulars if you’re really keen to see underlying connections and delve into deeper learning.
#5: Avoid Overconfidence
It’s only normal for people to set the limits of their own thinking and even assume that their thoughts and decisions are smarter than they actually are. The same can be thought of learning. In one study, the more confident the participants were about their learning, they less likely they were to recall it afterwards. This means you should beware underestimating how easily you WILL forget details.
#6: Organize Information
Organize new information mentally so that new skills can be better learned. What this means is think of your brain as a computer: saving everything on the desktop will mess up the files and make it difficult to find what you’re looking for.
Your brain isn’t any different from a computer. You need to allot specific mental space for new skills you’re trying to learn. While you’re already a musician, learning a new instrument can still confuse your brain. What you can do is space out the intake and repetition of the new skill or ability.
#7: Keep the Brain Healthy
Your brain will do greater things for you if you keep it in tiptop shape. In your quest to absorb new knowledge, you should have a healthy working brain that is conducive to attaining the goals ahead. Sleep is a critical factor to ensure; a tired, sleep, fatigued mind will prevent learning. Get enough restful sleep, manage stress, perform mental exercises, and meditate to boost brain performance.
What you feed your brain is just as critical. Eat a raw, balanced, wholesome diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, omega 3-rich fish, and healthy fats. Since time immemorial, people have also turned to nature for their brain enhancement needs, with outstanding herbal extracts and spices that provide the antioxidants and cognitive enhancers they need.
Physical wellness contributes to mental acuity and wellbeing, so also make it a point to exercise regularly – with at least three sessions of cardio every week – to keep both body and mind healthy and maintain such astounding learning potential.