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Study smart, not hard: How to get the most of your learning

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Even if you’re not a student, learning is a constant part of life, and the path to a successful career will also be lined with much learning and assimilation of information. Here are some tips for staying focused and managing your study, formal or informal, so you get the most out of it.

Sit in front. When in a class, meeting, or conference, sit close to the front, near whomever is lecturing / moderating, so you have plenty of opportunities to make eye contact and engage with the person you are learning from, which keeps you stimulated and more attentive to what is being said.

Ask questions. The process of structuring a question about a concept is an important component of actually grasping the concept. If we can frame the problem (i.e. what we don’t know / understand) into a question, those thought process will help us fit the pieces of information we receive about it later. Also, those who ask questions have higher chances of getting a response or solution than those who don’t ask anything!

Check your posture. It’s been said that smiling makes you feel happier – the same can be said of body posture. Sitting up straight, leaning slightly forward, and being attentive and alert are all little efforts that can make you feel more interested in what you are learning.

Learn how to take notes. Being able to take good notes isn’t simply copying what someone has already said / written, or having perfect handwriting. A good note-taker knows how to summarize, conceptualize, and rephrase what he/she has learnt into nuggets of information he/she will be able to return to and revise, further analyse, and understand. Check out mind mapping for a fun way to do this.

Prioritize. Not all learning is equal. Some assignments carry heavier percentage weightings, and some projects or investments have the potential for higher returns than others. Allocate your time, efforts, and resources accordingly. If something is not that important, let it slide, and focus on what is.

Schedule your time. Make sure your time works for you rather than against you by scheduling regular, dedicated times for learning, even informally. Break up what you need to do into manageable chunks of time (e.g. 30 minutes) and during that time, focus completely on the task. When the time period is up, do something else. Using less time – but with greater focus – is better than long hours interrupted by a continuous stream of distractions.

ImageAttributionNoncommercial Some rights reserved by J. Paxon Reyes

 

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