5 Proven Tips to Improve Learning

Dec 14 / Tina Hammett
When learning as adults, we can very quickly hit a wall of despair, tell ourselves we can't do it and then give up.

Firstly, this is totally natural and it is important not to beat yourself up about it but there are some proven psychological techniques that can help us smash through that wall.

I'm going to share just five here with you and they have the ability to transform how you learn and your ability to pick up new things.

Best of all, they are all easy to implement and totally free.

1. What is your learning style?

We all tend to default to one learning style, knowing yours can make all the difference to how you learn.  The main three are Auditory, Visual or Kinesthetic.  If you are auditory you will learn best through listening.  Podcasts or a tutor lead class are ideal for you.

Visual tends to lean towards alone learning, reading from a textbook or articles, or being shown how to do something.  Whilst Kinesthetic is practical learning, where you physically practice what you are learning.

I know someone who after hitting the learning wall whilst trying to learn law, realised their learning style and then danced their way down a long list of post-its that had all the information written on them that they needed to digest.  Learn your own style and learning unlocks itself. 

2. Overcoming learning anxiety

When you find your frustration at trying to learn turning into anxiety, try Optic Flow.  This simple technique re-sets the nervous sytem through your eyes. 

Forward motion, where you walk, run or cycle outdoors, creates optic flow.  Your eyes are forced to become involved with the flow of movement past you, which naturally quiets the part of the brain involved in fear.  

It is important to know that running or walking on a treadmill doesn't create the same effect.

3. Know your Circadian & Ultradian Rythmn

We are all about flowing with nature here at Kadamey which makes this one of my personal favourites.  Our nervous system is designed to work in 2 cycles; the first is the (almost) 24 hour Circadian cycle, which you may have already heard about but have you heard of the Ultradian cycle?  

Our Circadian cycle is broken up into roughly 90 minute intervals during each day and these are your Ultradian cycles.  These continue through sleep as well as awake hours.  The brain is not at its highest level of attentiveness during the first 5-10 minutes of each cycle.  

The brain's ability to concentrate and "learn" increases though as each cycle moves on until you naturally "pop out" of that attentive state at the end of the 90 minutes.  This is why you should not cram, or try to absorb new material without taking breaks.

If you learn to listen to your brains natural cycle, you can obtain optimal learning, ie work for an hour before taking a 20 minute break.  Maybe go outside for that walk to get a double whammy with Optic Flow and return to learning when the brain is naturally ready.

4. Making mistakes is ESSENTIAL

Yes you read that correctly - making mistakes is ESSENTIAL for the brain to learn and process.  In fact you should encourage it when you are learning, whether that is a practical motor skill or a cognitive one that you want to become ace at.

Research shows the ratio of success vs errors should be 85% to 15%.  Which means you should be at least 15% outside of your learning comfort zone difficulty level.  Trial and error feedback is imperative for engaging the forebrain, otherwise your nervous system cruises through it and may not take it in.

And if you find yourself getting frustrated or anxious when in that 15% zone, remember take a break and do Optical Flow. 

5. Write it down!

What?  I hear you cry.  The whole point of online learning is that it's written down for me, or in a video, why do I want to be writing it all down in addition to that?

Science has shown that the act of writing makes us RETAIN the information we are reading or viewing.  Taking notes is also essential for engaging the part of the brain involved in retaining new things.

And my final piece of advice, remember to FEED your brain.  Keeping hydrated and eating wholesome foods (like blueberries) also aids learning. The brain has an amazing capacity for learning when we ourselves learn to work with it, rather than against it.  Happy learning.
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