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5 Smart Strategies to Learn and Remember More

3 min read

Being able to learn quickly and effectively can help you build and grow your side hustle or business; this rings especially true when you’re just starting out with limited resources and have a lot of hats to wear. While you might find it easier to learn a specific way, like by reading, seeing or hearing, Dr. Sanam Hafeez, New York-based neuropsychologist and teacher at Columbia University, says that there are a handful of easy strategies that anyone can learn quickly while remembering more. “Luckily, there are online seminars and other ways to learn that speak to our interests,” Dr. Hafeez reminds. “It’s also incredibly convenient to learn in our digital age today.” Ready to rock? Here are five things you can do starting right now.

Make it quick.

Looking to brush up on business basics or learn how to update your website? Good news: You don’t have to pour hours at a time into your effort to know more. “There’s a sweet spot for learning in the 30-50 minute time frame,” Dr. Hafeez says. “Dedicate that amount of time to learning and then take a 10 to 15 minute break to end a learning segment before starting a new task. You’re more likely to retain more when you focus for a shorter amount of time at once.” She also tells us that tools like notecards with brief points can help you absorb even more at a faster pace.

Take colorful notes.

Sure, creative-looking notes might be more appealing, but taking notes by hand and highlighting key concepts in color also helps you learn better. “When we handwrite notes, we listen then process the information before writing. When we type on a laptop, we transcribe what we hear without any self-interpretation—this is where the actual learning comes into play,” Dr. Hafeez shares. Studies from Princeton University and UCLA back up her insights, showing that students who hand wrote their notes performed better than their peers who took them by typing on a laptop.

Get the right amount of sleep.

Do you know how much sleep you need to feel totally charged? Though a small group of people can get by on six or eight, most people need at least eight to feel their best. Dr. Hafeez reminds us that getting high-quality sleep is key when it comes to your effort and ability to learn. “People who get a full eight hours of deep, uninterrupted sleep retain what they learn and have bandwidth to grasp more information quicker,” she promises. “We often feel tired after a course or following instructions, and this is because focusing requires energy. Naturally, when we rest we get to reboot the brain.”

Read, record, replay.

Almost like a computer storing info that you can look at later, recording yourself reading aloud and playing it back can call up concepts you want to lock down. “Record yourself and elaborate with your own idea of how the concept resonates,” Dr. Hafeez suggests. “Then, replay the recording a day or two later.” Though you can tune into your recording while on the go as you might with a podcast or an audiobook, sitting down in a quiet spot where you can focus is your best bet.

Use what you already know.

Imagining information as building blocks can help you grasp new knowledge more quickly while helping you understand how it works. According to Dr. Hafeez, “When we take a concept and link it to something we already know about or have genuine interest in, we retain that concept. It sticks.” The more you know, indeed.

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About The Author

Krista Gray

Krista Gray

Krista Gray is a web producer and freelance writer who lives in San Francisco. When she's not working with clients through her company GoldSquare, she loves reading, traveling and learning new things.