8 Hacks to Learn New Skills in Half the Time
Learning new skills doesn't have to be so hard.
It doesn’t take a genius to learn something quickly. After all, learning is a skill, which is something you can develop over time.
While it might be frustrating at first to pick up on what habits work for you, by making an effort to do so, you’ll be much better off in the long run. That’s why I’m going to go through a few different methodologies I’ve used to learn things quickly and efficiently. Check them out:
1. Start simple
Perhaps one of the first things you can do to learn a new skill is figuring out how to take it on in its simplest forms. For example, let’s say I wanted to learn something like the piano. My initial aim is going to be one that applies simple chord progressions and melodies, such as pop songs. This allows me to start to work through an understandable concept that I can execute rather than reading through a bunch of theories that I otherwise couldn’t apply.
2. Chunk time
As time is going to be your most valuable asset in taking on a new skill, it’s important to spend it wisely. I personally like to follow a method called “chunking,” where I break up topics into smaller, learnable bits. What was started in the 1950s by Harvard psychologist George A. Miller has now become one of the most well-known teaching methods around, and something you should consider to make your process more efficient.
3. Talk it through with someone
If you’ve ever had to memorize a speech, then you know how efficient this method of memorization can be. In a study conducted at Montreal University, students were told to read words on a screen, with some verbalizing the words to themselves while the others read silently. What they found was that with the act of reading and verbalizing, your brain associates multisensory information with the text. This practice can really work if you let it, and I highly suggest practicing it while walking or driving somewhere.
4. Write things down
This isn’t just opening up notepad on your phone or laptop and jotting a couple of bullet points, but rather physically taking out a pen and a piece of paper to commit to memory. As noted in a study by Betsy Sparrow of Columbia University, when we rely too heavily on a computer to remember things, we’re less likely to commit to it ourselves.
5. Take useful breaks
If you could trade a week’s worth of procrastination on Facebook, Reddit or any other distraction for a day off, would you do it? Most likely so, but we need to take breaks from working (as a matter of fact, they’ve been proven to help us be more productive). That’s why I purposely have dedicated break times, including implementing power naps, which as studies have shown, can help boost energy to finish out your day strong.
6. Repeat in moderation
We’ve all heard the advice that if you spend 10,000 hours on a practice, then you’ll become a master at it. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. As noted in a study by Princeton University, deliberate practice like that can have a variance ranging from 1 to 26 percent, depending on the activity performed. Certain things we’re going to get better at because we dwelled on it, while other times it requires rolling up your sleeves and getting to work. It’s up to you to determine which is needed for your learning goals.
7. Find value in daily life
It’s incredibly difficult to find a use for something that you can’t apply in your daily life. Honestly, how many times have you heard someone ask why they had to learn calculus in high school? Moreover, while calculus might not have a practical application at the grocery store, some people might see how it fits into a bigger picture. The goal here boils down to how you find fascination in a subject, and why you fell in love with it.
8. Meditate on it
While some have considered meditation a somewhat pseudoscience, it’s actually been proven to be an excellent mental exercise. As noted in a study presented by MIT, participants who meditated over an eight-week period were able to better control alpha rhythms, a part of your brain that helps the flow of information as well as limits distraction. Overall, this can be one of the best methods to boosting concentration to learn something, and I highly suggest you take a few minutes out of your day to do so as well.