Drake Baer, wrote in the Business Insider that he discovered in a blog, Quora thread that users discussed the learning strategies that “quick learners” used. He outlined some of the best ideas for optimizing the learning process and productivity research.
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- To understand a problem, ask “why” five times.
In “The Lean Start-up,” author Eric Ries offers the “Five Whys” technique for getting to the root of an issue. The idea is to get to the underlying cause of a superficial problem — one that, more often than not is more human than technical error.
- Keep a positive attitude.
“Anxiety precludes you from exploring real solutions and real thought patterns that will come up with solutions,” she says. But when you’re feeling good about what might happen, you get into an opportunity-oriented mindset. “So you think of all of the good things that can happen. You’re more likely to make decisions and take actions that will make that world likely to occur.”
- Don’t just learn about it; practice it.
“You can’t learn golf from a book. You need to swing a club at a ball,” says Quora user Mark Harrison, the head of technology at British financial company FundingKnight. “You can’t learn Ruby on Rails from a book — you need to put together a site.”
- Find an expert, and then ask them about their expertise.
If you’re trying to learn a subject, talk to an expert who can explain it. Buy them lunch, and ask them all about their craft. Tim Ferriss, author of “The 4-Hour Workweek,” is a master of this. Whenever he’s trying to learn a sport, he’ll seek out the nearest silver medalist, arrange for an interview, and then grill them on technique.
- Get an accountability buddy.
Find somebody else who’s trying to build the same skill as you — be it rock climbing, cello, or French cooking — and experience the learning process with them. Set up regular times to check in on your progress, whether in person or via Skype, Harrison recommends.
- When you don’t understand, say so.
When you don’t understand something in a meeting, go ahead and put up your hand and ask, “Sorry, can you just explain why?” Dumb people will think it’s dumb, he says, but smart folks will admire the curiosity.
- Repeat, repeat, repeat.
“Repetition leads to synaptic conditioning,” shares user Hwang Min Hae, a medical student in Australia. “The brain is plastic, and it allows the neural pathway to fire at a faster pace than before. That’s why repetition over a long period of time creates an instantaneous recall — that’s why you can recite your ABCs and 123s. Try reciting your ABCs in the opposite way, and you’ll have a bigger difficulty than doing it forward.”
- Don’t just write it out; draw it out.
“Often the best approach to solving problems and generating ideas involves a combination of words and pictures,” he says. “When you add pictures, you add layers and dimensions of thought that are almost impossible to achieve with words alone … It’s a way to get your idea down while still keeping it in a fluid state.”
- Learn the difficult stuff at the start of the day.
Willpower is finite, research shows. We have lots at the start of the day, but it gets depleted as we make decisions and resist temptations. (That’s why shopping is so exhausting.) So if you’re learning a language, an instrument, or anything else that’s super complex, schedule it for the start of the day, since you’ll have the most mental energy then.
- Use the 80/20 rule.
The 80/20 rule states that you get 80% of your value out of 20% of work. In business, 20% of activities produce 80% of results that you want. Fast learners apply the same logic to their research areas.
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