I’ve been studying a lot lately. To study better, I’ve been doing the following six things.
- Using the pomodoro technique. This is a simple technique that allows me to get a lot of work done and avoid distraction. It’s simple and anyone can do it. You time yourself and give your undivided focus and attention to the work you want to do ( in my case, study a specific topic). Then break and do whatever you want to do (e.g. surf the web, make a phone call, relax) before returning to another block of time where you turn off your phone and every distraction and focus. I can give myself 45 minutes to study a topic or two. Then afterwords, I take a break of 20 minutes and do whatever I want. Then I repeat the process over with another uninterrupted time of study. The pomodoro technique works for anything you want to get done whether at work or at home.
- Doing spaced repetition. We all know that repetition is how we learn. Practice makes permanent. Without repetition, we’ll forget. There is even such a thing as the forgetting curve. You can Google that if you want to know more. Instead of repeating something you are learning four times in the same sitting, you will remember more if you space out the repetition to say every other day for one week. That allows your brain to form strong neuronal connections and pathways to remember what you are learning.
- Sleeping. Yes, sleep is a crucial part of learning anything. Memory consolidation happens when we sleep. During sleep, our brain cells shrink and the interstitial spaces become larger allowing toxins to be washed out. So sleep cleans your brain of toxins that would hamper memory. When you have had a good night’s sleep, you are also able to process information faster and recall things easily. So not only does sleep help with memory formation, it helps with memory consolidation, recall, alertness, reading speed, etc. That’s why it’s good to have a good night sleep before you take a major exam instead of studying the entire night.
- Exercise. Exercise has many benefits for health. But it is also crucial for learning. Research shows that exercise even helps your brain to grow new neurons!
- Stimulating Environment. I have a group of friends, including my wife, that help me learn. Having an environment with people that stimulate you to learn and become more creative is going to take you a long way.
- Persistence. Many times I feel there is so much to do. I wish I could read faster and process information faster. However, what I’ve learned is that persistence is what will enable me to win in the end.
Any person who does these six things will have less stress, less likelihood for depression, be more successful, and I think will enjoy their lives better and be able to do more good!