Here are three key components to effective learning which will, in the long run, save you time, money and energy.
1. If you can’t understand the instructor, quit or change instructors.
I know that’s not always possible but it is so critical to your learning and absorbing the information as quickly as possible. Often teachers know their material really well and they may even be famous for their work. However, they just can’t explain it to others in such a way that others can learn from them. It’s no one’s fault. It can be a matter of style, language, temperament – a whole host of factors.
If you have no alternative than to remain in the course, then find someone quickly to teach you in such a way you can understand. It can be a classmate, a friend, or someone else who has previously taken the course and passed. If you don’t know anyone, advertise for a tutor. If you can’t pay the fee, barter. It’s imperative to get the right instruction otherwise the struggle to learn new material will be enormous.
2. Apply the knowledge immediately.
If you can’t apply it to a job or a process immediately, then find someone who is willing to ask you questions. Answering the questions out loud will tell you immediately if you have understood the concept or not. The words will either flow out of your mouth easily and effortlessly or you’ll stumble through the explanation.
3. Take care of yourself. Take care of your brain and body with the right amount of sleep, good food, lots of water and exercise. The dividends from these three components will for a life time.
It’s true that sometimes you have a job with many overtime hours just to keep afloat or your study load is intense or you’re an intern in medical school working several shifts in a row or in the military where you have manoeuvres for several days and nights in a row. Obviously, there are “insane” periods of time in many people’s lives. During those times, learning can be difficult.
For instance, would-be doctors must learn to work under intense pressure, under less than ideal conditions and still maintain the ability to think, reason and apply the medical knowledge they have garnered to help people in distress.
It’s especially critical at times like these to stay focused on yourself. Focus on sleep, eating properly, drinking a lot of water and exercise – even 5 minutes of stretching will re-energize and a 20-minute nap will refresh the brain and body, the water will keep everything hydrated. I know it may sound silly to be so self-focused under such extreme conditions. It is the only way. Your brain and body are not computer components – they are human bodies which need the right kind of attention especially when trying to learn something new or applying what you have learned.
These three components will:
a) Save you time – you won’t have to study extra hours because you don’t understand the instructor. You won’t need to re-learn material several times over if you apply it immediately and by taking care of yourself, you likely will remain healthy. You know how being ill can set you back in your studies.
b) Save you money – you won’t have to repeat the course and pay for the course a second time if you make a change immediately when you can’t understand the person teaching the course. If you stay healthy, you won’t need to buy medications to help overcome an illness. And by applying the knowledge, you learn it well – you won’t have to buy additional books or pay for additional resources later.
c) Save you energy – The right teaching will save a lot of energy because you won’t have to struggle so hard to understand the concept. Applying the material as soon as possible is obviously a more efficient way to learn anything thus you’ll expend less energy. And, of course, when you take care of yourself, you will have the energy you need to do the necessary learning – so much time is wasted “dragging” your body and brain around – take care of them as best you can.
Manage these three components well and you’ll see learning will be much easier and more efficient in the long run. There is no question that these three components are critical to the human machine during the learning process.