Since our birth, we are in constant learning. When we are child we learn new things like the language, how to walk, run, among others. Furthermore, as we grow up, we also learn new things. Unfortunately, even if we learn a bunch of things we are not taught to learn. This essay will cover some of the main topics for a good learning and some points that we should have in mind in order to have a little knowledge related to techniques and concepts about how to learn more effectively.
First, I want to point out two terms, these are focused and diffuse modes of thinking. Focused mode refers to the state in which we are very concentrated and our brain is entirely occupied in what we are doing, for example, when we are solving a difficult problem, doing an assignment, trying to memorize things, studying for a test. This mode of thinking is very common, as we search for concentration when we are doing a task. Another mode of thinking that is very important is the diffuse mode. This mode is when you are doing something else and your brain is still thinking about how to solve a problem or doing that task that is important. This happens when you perform a completely different activity and you might not be consciously thinking about your problem. It is known that our brain cannot be in both modes of thinking at the same time, for that reason, an effective way of learning is to change our brain between the two modes. For example, suppose that you have to solve a difficult problem and you spend a lot of time on it, it is a good advice to switch to another activity, especially something that you like the most, some people might go for a walk, others prefers ride a bike, other just to see the horizon. Even if you do something different when you return to your problem, probably you will find the answer easily. You can watch a video called Focused and Diffused Mode or you can read the blog Focused vs. Diffused Mode for more information about this topic.
Secondly, I want to give a general thought about memory. Memory In psychology is the process in which information is encode, stored, and retrieved (Wikipedia). There are techniques that help us to improving our memorization skills. One of them, and is said to be the best, is the related to the memory palace. The memory palace technique refers to a kind of associations between what you are trying to memorize with something familiar to you. For example, if you want to memorize a list of items you can associate them with your stuff in your room. Other strategies can be done by associating the items with a story that you just create, you can also associate with locations, for example, the places in your route to work, create a list in a specific order can be done by associating those with numbers and creating funny images. You can see some example in the post Top 6 Memory Techniques. If you want to go deeper 10 Hot Tips For Memorizing Information video is perfect for you because it explains very well some memorization techniques. I also want to point out that there are kinds of games the help to improve our memory and help to have our brain fit. One of them is memory cards. I developed a simple game that you can play on internet, you just have to click on the run button and play memory. It consists of a set of pair of cards with numbers between 1 and 8 and you have to pair them by clicking each one. Click here to play it.
Thirdly, I want to speak about procrastination. In my country, this is not a common word, even if we do it a lot. Procrastination is the practice of carrying out less urgent tasks in preference to more urgent ones, or doing more things that give pleasure in place of less pleasurable ones, and thus putting off impending tasks to a later time, sometimes to the “last minute” before the deadline (Wikipedia). This behavior inhibits to do tasks more efficiently. There are some kinds of techniques that help us to use more effective the time. One of them is the well-known Pomodoro method. The Pomodoro is a simple technique, in which a period is set for doing a specific task, and after that, you can have some relaxation or time for doing a pleasurable activity. 25 minutes is a standard period for doing the Pomodoro. You can watch the video The Pomodoro Technique® for more information about it. There are four habits to take into account to understand procrastination: the cue, the routine, the reward, and the belief. The cue is the stimulus that makes you to procrastinate, and this is what you should separate from them. When you are avoiding procrastination, following a routine is a good way to begin to apart those habits; for example, you can take some actions in order to work more efficiently and do it repeatedly. The reward is related to this kind of little prizes that you put yourself for carrying out your task, for example, you can say that as soon as you finish the work you will have a chocolate or something like that. Finally, the belief, you have to believe that you can leave procrastination out of your life and use time more efficiently.
In conclusion, learning how to learn is an effective way to improve our lives, we can learn a lot of techniques or strategies for improve our learning abilities. We can also improve our memorization skills by applying techniques that are related with visualization of familiar items in our lives or creating stories easy to remember. Finally, procrastination is one of the worst habits that prevent us to a better learning, and avoiding it is a good way to start changing our academic lives.
Barbara Oakley, Terrence Sejnowski. Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects.