Most people have never taken a class in “learning skills.” It’s a shame, because having good learning skills is much more important than knowing the Pythagorean Theorem or the date of the end of The War of 1812. Unfortunately, most schools don’t take much time explaining and teaching learning skills to students. Usually it’s nothing more than , “Make sure you do your homework and don’t study only the day before the test, okay?” There’s much more to having good learning skills than not procrastinating. I’m going to spend the rest of this article giving you some tips about how you can accelerate your own learning skills.
Learning skills is a phrase that incorporates a large array of abilities, skills, and sub-skills. There are no list of skills that incorporate the discipline known as “learning skills.” It generally refers to things such as knowing how to take new information and successfully learn it, knowing how to deal with difficult or challenging information, and knowing what steps to take to improve yourself. All of these separate skills, when put together, incorporate what is known as learning skills.
The first tip for accelerating your learning skills is to learn how to shut off distractions. We live in a society where distraction has become the general mode of operation. Most of us have cell phones that are constantly updating us with new information. Incoming texts, incoming phone calls, Twitter updates, Facebook updates, and the whole gamut of games and applications that are constantly trying to tell you what is going on. Successful learning only takes place when the distractions that currently rule our lives are put to the side.
Give yourself a set time (or as close as you can to a set time) everyday to focus on learning and personal development. This is the time when you turn off your cell phone, turn off the TV and unplug the internet. Learning requires high levels of concentration and focus that can be snapped by a twig at the first BEEP of an incoming message. Don’t let yourself succumb to the temptation of multitasking. Studies have shown that switching between tasks such as reading a textbook and texting a friend results in you doing both much less effectively.
Next, learn how to use the resources available to you through the internet. We are in the midst of an exciting age of democratization of information. Knowledge is no longer locked within the confines of prestigious universities or dusty libraries. The internet has made it easy and nearly free to find information on almost any subject that strikes your fancy. The only requirement is that you have some level of curiosity about the world around you. Spend some time learning about the resources that are available to you on the internet. Many universities provide lectures and other online courses for absolutely free. Check out iTunes U for a huge directory of lectures on nearly any topic. Podcasts also cover nearly any topic that you care to know more about. Online magazines, newspapers and journals are also usually only a click away. With websites like Google Books and Project Gutenberg you can also have thousands of books at your fingertips any time of day.
Accelerating your learning skills is about taking your own personal development seriously. You don’t need to be content with any level of mediocrity within your own intellectual life. By learning how to develop your concentration and focus by eliminating distractions and utilizing the free resources that are available to you, your learning skills will vastly improve. It’s only up to you to decide how you want to use your newly found abilities.