Learn How To Learn Day 1
Get a pencil and a paper with you. (Generally, always)
Learn how to prepare
Whether you are a student at school, university or a life-long student like me, the most important tool you need to upload on your brain is the ability to learn how to learn new things without getting tired and overwhelmed.
This will get you miles ahead, you can even transform your whole life.
It took me twelve years to understand this. Imagine, it took me over a decade to finish my studies and get my degree. I felt overwhelmed and depressed because of this. The past two years were the most educational years of my life, I have read the most books of my life, watched tho most documentaries and written the most articles. Furthermore, I created a website about the Greek language, something I really love and enjoy working on. I am a proud online Greek teacher for foreigners now!
Yesterday I decided to create a series here on Medium about something I think every one of us wants to learn about.
How we can focus on what we want to do and how we can make the most of the time for our own benefit.
So, I will be sharing with you for the next twelve days what has worked for me.
First, we need to journal and be honest with ourselves on how we rate our current performance. This way we will have a real picture of where we currently are and where we want to go.
Take the following quiz and be honest with yourself. This is your first day and the starting point of your future self.
What is usually a good first step in getting prepared?
a. Make sure that your house is tidy and all the chores are done.
b. Make sure you are in a relaxed and focus mood.
c. It all starts with the decision to take your study book and start reading.
d. Gather all materials needed and get rid of distractions.
The correct answer is “d”. I have done a,b and c and I tell you that they never work.
“A” I remember myself as a student trying to focus on my reading in my messy bedroom and I ended up cleaning in order to focus on my reading. I never had the energy to keep on reading afterwards. I just had a clean bedroom.
So if the environment is messy, I highly recommend you to find a place out of the house (a library or a quiet cafe to study) Separate the study time with the cleaning time.
“B” and “C” also never worked for me, as this focus mood never came as a miracle. We need to train ourselves for the focus to come and this is what we are doing right now.
“D” This is simple to do and will bring a lot of benefits! With all the materials at hand and distractions out of the way, you will improve your focus and make sure you can go on.
The proposed schedule for a studying session is as follows. 50 minutes of studying followed by ten minutes break. after your ten-minute beak of the first study session you still feel like you need a break. What would you recommend you to do?
a. Give myself another 10-minute break.
b. Give studying another go, and see if it works out.
c. Give studying another go, but with a shorter study block.
d. Wait until I re-find my motivation, otherwise, my next study block would be off to a bad start.
The correct answer is “C”.
“A” Don’t give yourself the habit to postpone.
“B” The word “if” never works.
“C” A 10-minute break should be a good breather, without getting completely out of the study. Quite often, your motivation and focus only come back, a few minutes after you have started studying again.
If your concentration stays low, so you think you actually do need a longer break, you can try out a different study schedule with longer breaks. Try to find out what’s going on between you and your breaks :).
“D” Waiting until the motivation comes may take you forever. ( I am not talking about me, I’m talking about a friend)
How long do you usually study without any interruptions?
a. Forty-five minutes or more.
b. Half an hour.
c. Fifteen minutes.
d. Ten minutes or less.
e. I have no idea.
The group of students who get text messages while reading take 22–59% longer to read their texts, even after subtracting the time they spend on checking and answering the messages.
Translating this into a real-life prediction: 2.5 hours of focused studying might be as productive as 4 hours of studying while getting distracted. Distraction-time itself not even included!
At the beginning of my new way of studying and working, I would choose d and e. I had obviously a concentration problem. Don’t worry, it is just a matter of training. If it worked for me, it will work for you.
If you chose d or e you need to understand for the benefit of yourself that studying and working is not going to work this way. Try to find out why this happens and how to solve this problem.
You seem to have a concentration problem. Studying is not gonna work this way: try to find out why this happens and how to solve this problem.
Question 4. (There is no correct answer)
Imagine you switch on your phone: what appears immediately on your screen?
Count the number of categories:
- Category 1: Missed calls
- Category 2: New e-mails
- Category 3: New chat messages (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Skype, QQ, Signal, etc.)
- Category 4: New notifications on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Renren, etc.)
- Category 5: News and media updates (News, sports, weather, showbiz, etc.)
1,2 and 3 definitely describe me the best. And I would reply to all of them. Imagine how much time I used to waste. This is where I got all my extra hours from. I am so excited I stopped this habit.
The greater the number of categories, the more notifications appear on your phone. Even if the number of categories is low, you may have a lot of notifications in only one category. In both cases, it can distract you constantly throughout the day. You may improve your concentration by turning off the display of notifications on your phone.
I turn off my phone in general.
Now rate from 1–5 the above question. Here there is no right or wrong answer.
How would you rate the environment you choose to study for yourself?
How would you rate your ability to decide how long you want to study?
How would you rate your ability to decide what you want to work on?
How would you rate your strength to avoid phone distractions?
I hope today's journaling has helped you a lot. Awareness is the key, and I think that journaling is the ultimate tool of awareness.
Always remember to be friendly to your brain.
Keep on doing the great job!