Learning is hard, but with a few tricks we can make the process much easier.
When we're young, learning is easy. We're open to new ideas, and get excited about challenging ourselves. We also have more time, and everyone around us is encouraging us to take on new skills.
But something happens as we start getting older. For some reason, we begin to believe we know most things. Many of us think that the subjects we studied in school are what we must limit ourselves to. In reality, we should never stop learning.
The brain is like any other muscle; you must work it out for it to get strong. The problem I see occurring with most people trying to learn is that they give up too fast. Lack of efficiency leads to a lack of results, which leads to demotivation. But it doesn't have to be this way; we can learn how to learn better. There are a variety of ways to do this, and I'll go through three of the easiest ways you can apply right away. Start learning smarter, and you'll achieve much more.
1. Understand that your mind is inherently lazy.
Our bodies and our minds do not like working. Until it becomes a habit, most of us do not love going to the gym. We'd rather be sitting on the couch eating Oreos. Your brain is no different. It doesn't like being forced to think through problems and learn new skills at first. But once you learn the fundamentals, it doesn't need to do as much work so it becomes easier.
Lets go back to the gym example. The first time you lifted weights, you probably were exhausted and somewhat awkward. But after going enough times, you most likely noticed a change. You had to think less, your body showed results, and all a sudden going to the gym became fun. The same lesson applies to your brain. So when you're learning a new skill and it's hard at first, don't let that discourage you. It's supposed to hard. Keep fighting through, and eventually you'll start to love it.
2. Switch back and forth less often.
Switching back and forth between tasks causes our brains to do a lot of work. We have to come back, refocus, and get in the correct mindset. Psychologists have discovered that our pupils dilate when we are pushing our mind to learn. This is evidence of the concentration required to take on new skills. To learn effectively, it requires our complete attention. Any kind of distraction ruins our mind's ability to absorb information.
Because of this, cut all the distractions you can when you're learning. A great way to do this is through time blocks, where you don't do anything but one task for an entire period of time. Put the phone away, turn off the tv, and go into a room by yourself. Once you have your mind in learning mode, you want to switch out of it the least amount of times as possible. Every time you make your brain refocus, you drain its energy.
3. Lie to yourself until the skill becomes fun.
When your mind tries making excuses not to get in learn mode, you'll feel it. You'll feel tired, and start thinking of excuses. Pushing it off until tomorrow starts becoming an option, and it seems like it's impossible to concentrate.
In these cases, you've got to lie to yourself to focus. One of the easiest ways to do this is to force yourself to smile as you learn the material. Stick a pencil between your teeth and make yourself grin. Study after study has shown that faking a smile can affect our emotions in a positive way. Trick yourself long enough until what you've learned becomes fun. Learning new skills isn't easy, but it's one of the things that makes life so enjoyable.