Get some tips on how to learn new information with a professor of cognitive psychology. Writing in Fortune magazine, Nate Kornell compares memory to weight lifting and outlines how to up your memory and learning game.
Relating the story of his daughter studying for a test, Kornell shows how much of what we might assume about learning and retaining information is wrong. Importantly, and counterintuitively, it should be hard. The brain is a muscle, and like resistance training we need to stretch ourselves and face a little pain. Easier work, on the brain or muscles, means less gain.
So Kornell put together some top tips on how to most efficiently and successfully learn and retain new information.
Top of the list is trying to make an informed guess first of all. Get the gears of your mind turning over.
Use summaries to review material you have just read. Forming the information into your own words and thinking it through independently is better for learning than just rereading.
Previously on the blog we looked at the forgetting curve – so put it to use and make sure to top up your memory at the most efficient moment as you start to lose the information. Continually doing this will commit it firmly to memory.
Don’t get complacent – while the forgetting curve can be used to optimise your learning don’t fall victim to it either. Kornell warns that people underestimate how much time and energy they need to commit to learning something. So even once you think you know something you need to keep revisiting the material to make sure.
Using these methods will shed new light on how your brain works and your capacity to learn and retain new information.
If your struggle is more with remembering great ideas you’ve had, or urgent to-dos that slip your mind, you need MessageMia. Even when you are driving – Mia is hands-free and simple to use. Call up and leave a voice recording and Mia will transcribe and email your message back to you. So even if all your memory-boosting tricks fail you never need to forget a great idea again.