Many people underestimate the importance of mental planning. Planning how you’re going to study or go about learning something new is one of the most important steps to learning something quickly and efficiently. If you’re able to get yourself organized and prioritize what you have to do, you’ll be able to perform better and learn more efficiently. You might find it a little hard to plan at first, but luckily this cognitive skill can be trained and improved.
1. Compile all of the information and material that you think you’ll need. It’s important to do this before you start working!
2. A written test isn’t the same as a multiple choice test – figure out what your goal is
3. Brain storm- Think about different ideas that can get you to your goal
4. Make a study plan based off of how much time you have, possible interruptions, and the type of material
5. Create goals. For example, make a daily goal and break it into smaller, more manageable parts.
2. Use a study method
There are a number of different study methods, and you’ll have to try a few different ones to find what works best in your case. The PQRST is a favorite among students, and has proven helpful in the case of some learning disorders like dyslexia, ADHD, etc… PQRST is an acronym: Preview, Question, Read, Self-recite, Test.
1. Review the entire chapter or text that you want to study. This will give you a general idea of the material that you’ll be covering. Take a look at your notes, read summaries about the topic, research the author, etc.
2. Create questions to ask yourself after each section. This will help you understand the main idea of the text.
3. Read through the text carefully and try to relate the information to other topics or information that you already know. You can underline and highlight sections here (with discretion!)
4. Write a short summary about what you’ve read.
5. Test yourself about the material you’ve read. If you realize you need more work on one section, go back and study that material.
3. Curiosity activates your brain
Why are we able to remember so many details when we watch a movie or read a book or hear an interesting story? The answer is simple: the mix of curiosity and emotion is the key to learning. If you can spark curiosity about a certain topic, you’ll be able to remember it better.
Practicing mindfulness can help your superior cognitive processes, which is closely related to learning.Mindfulness is characterized by understanding your body, living in the present, controlling anxiety and emotions, and concentrating on breathing.
5. The more strategies, the better
There are many different learning strategies that have been proven to help people study and retain information. Try to combine learning strategies to get the most out of studying and help you remember a larger amount of information. If you think you may need to improve your memory, you’re in luck. There are different programs to help improve and memory, which will save you time and improve learning over time.
1. Associative strategies are the easiest. It consists of reviewing the material through repetition: review, copy, highlight, repeat out loud, etc.
2. Organizational strategies group the study material by chunks.
3. Elaborative strategies require that understand the material. Create outlines, summaries, keywords, etc.
6. Spread it out
It doesn’t matter if you’re studying for two, four, or eight hours a day, spreading out your studying can help you learn more effectively. Give yourself time to internalize the information that you learned, without over-saturating your brain. Remember that our bodies internalize information while we sleep, so try to avoid those all-nighters and give the body the rest it needs – you’ll see the difference when studying the next day.
7. Take a break
Psychology research has shown that our ability to stay focused on a single task declines after about 20-25 minutes. It seems like a short amount of time- and it is. It may be hard to get in the “groove” with these short intervals, but it’s been proven to be the best for learning new information.
8. Positive vibes, positive experience
Our feelings are closely related to learning. If we can be positive while studying, the better we’ll be able to remember information and learn.
9. Reward yourself
Positive reinforcements make us feel happier about the work that we’re doing. If you feel like the work you’re doing has a positive outcome, you’ll be more likely to do it well and happily.
10. Believe in yourself!
If you’re constantly worrying about failing and not doing well, you’ll actually start to believe it and it could change your performance. Positive thinking and believing in yourself is a big part of learning a new skill or idea, so thinking that you can do it will help you actually achieve it.