“Focused” and “Diffused” Modes
When learning, there are times in which you are focused and times in which you allow your mind to wander. Both modes are valuable to allow your brain to learn something.
Take regular breaks, meditate, think about other things, and give yourself plenty of time in both modes.
This is the idea of breaking what you want to learn into concepts. The goal is to learn each concept in a way that they each become like a well-known puzzle piece.
To master a concept, you not only need to know it but also to know how it fits into the bigger picture.
Beware of Illusions of Competence
There are many ways in which we can make ourselves feel like we have “learned” a concept. Instead of highlighting or underlining, rather take brief notes that summarize key concepts.
Take a couple of minutes to summarize or recall the material you are trying to learn. It goes a long way to taking something from short-term memory to long-term learning.
To avoid breakthrough illusions of competence, you should test yourself as you’re encountering new material. The recall is a simple example of this mini-testing.
Do not spend too much time in one sitting going over the same material over and over again. The law of diminishing returns certainly applies. Spread it out over many sessions and many different modes of learning.
Once you have a basic understanding of what you are trying to learn, practice jumping back and forth between problems that require different techniques. This will solidify your understanding of the concepts by learning how to choose to apply them in various situations. Knowing when to apply a particular concept is as important as knowing how.
Process over Product
When facing procrastination, think of the process over the product.
Instead of thinking that you have to get X done, rather think to spend an hour on X. It is then not overwhelming and doesn’t require a long breakdown of tasks.
Metaphors and Analogies
They are often talked about as helpful study techniques.
Try to make a deliberate effort to teach what you learn to someone else and, in doing so, you will likely be forced to explain concepts with relatable metaphors and analogies.
Study Groups / Teamwork
This has proven to be most beneficial to maintain continued progress and hold each other accountable. Finding the right group is key.