14+ Ways to Be a Better Learner (Updated for 2022)
- Loes Kotoun
Everyone can learn, but being a great student doesn’t always come naturally to everyone.
Or maybe it did for you, but that was back in your high school era.
Now, as an adult student or learner, you seem to have lost touch with your ability to study effectively, and you just can’t seem to reconnect.
Do you want to get more out of your study efforts but struggle to find ways to be a better learner?
Having the right tips and tricks can make all the difference, so keep reading for inspiration so that you, too, can discover how to be a better learner!
15 Ways to Be a Better Learner in 2022
1. Eliminate Unnecessary Distractions
Distractions hurt your productivity, that’s a fact.
When your concentration jumps, it takes time and attention to get back on track. That’s energy you’d rather put in your coursework, right?
To reduce distractions, try to study in a quiet room or environment such as a library. Be mindful of the temperature, as a room that’s too warm can cause drowsiness which isn’t good for concentration.
Also be sure to turn off smartphone notifications, TV, and any other unnecessary electronic devices, and avoid switching back and forth between your assignments and favorite apps.
When you starve your distractions, you can feed your focus.
2. Become a Grand Goal-Setter
Goal setters are generally more successful, and goal setting plays a pivotal role in your learning success.
One approach to effective goal setting involves jotting down SMART goals, which stands for:
- Specific: Make your goals as specific as possible. The more specific your goal, the easier it will be to focus.
- Measurable: Make sure you can measure your goal so that you have something concrete to aim for.
- Attainable: Don’t be overly ambitious, as this can set you up for frustration. Instead, make your goal challenging but attainable.
- Relevant: Make sure your goal aligns with your objective.
- Timely: Attach realistic deadlines that you’ll actually be able to meet.
Using SMART goals helps you retain focus, and gives a clearer overview of what you want to achieve and a better sense of direction.
3. Jot Down Notes (Preferably By Hand!)
When taking notes, you are more actively engaging with the topic, as you need to read and listen more carefully.
Jotting down notes helps you keep a record of what you learned, and you’ll always have a summary of the most important information available to review as needed .
Note that even though typing may be more your jam, don’t underestimate the power of writing down your notes. Yes, with an actual pen on a real piece of paper!
Studies show that students who take notes by hand remember more and have a better understanding of the course content.
4. Set Aside The Time
We all understand that modern-day life can get in the way of our learning, but don’t expect solid results built on a weak foundation.
You can have all the good intentions in the world, but you simply won’t be able to learn everything you need to in a few stolen hours here and there.
Instead, block off time in your schedule and make learning part of your daily ritual. By using this approach, you will be well on your way to becoming a more productive and effective learner.
5. Stay Curious and Ask Questions
Numerous studies show that curiosity prepares the brain, making it more receptive to learning.
This means that when you trigger your curiosity and actively start asking questions, it helps you better remember information that would otherwise just go in one ear in and out the other.
Just reading passively and hoping you retain the information probably won’t help you much in better understanding the subject matter.
But having a sense of curiosity about the topic at hand and asking insightful questions will.
6. Seek Out Practical Experience
I’m sure you can recall events where learning-by–doing helped you better retain theoretical information.
Take learning another language, for example. You can read all the books and attend all the lessons, but nothing beats actually speaking the new language.
Practical experience also teaches you some valuable soft skills, such as discipline and perseverance—two character strengths that will optimize your learning.
7. Ask For Feedback
Lack of confidence and fear of criticism are just a couple of reasons why humans don’t always welcome feedback.
But take a moment to think about it. Wouldn’t it be helpful to hear where you’re winning and what you can be doing better?
Feedback can be a great indicator of whether you’re on the right learning path. It leads to improved learning outcomes and supports you in achieving your desired learning goal.
So go ahead and ask for some feedback! Remember, it can only make you better.
8. Close a Few Tabs in Your Brain
Your brain, too, can become tired and overworked.
Whether it’s watching TV, using social media, or FaceTiming with friends—nothing depletes your brain more than having too many tabs open.
Multitasking while studying or finishing up practical assignments interferes with your ability to absorb information, which subsequently leads to poorer retention of all you’ve learned.
Instead, strive to stay focused on the task at hand, and don’t let multitasking negatively impact your performance.
Tips on how to stay focused include: engage in regular meditation, study when you’re well-rested, work offline, and schedule short timeouts when needed.
9. Get Yourself a Study Buddy
Hang out with one or more equally motivated study partners to enhance your learning.
Not only is it more fun, but teaming up helps you see things from a different perspective, gives you the opportunity to discuss topics, and allows you to test each other’s knowledge.
In addition, you can share different study techniques, conquer possible procrastination, and hold each other accountable for reaching your learning goals.
10. Set Your Alarm for Short Breaks
Do you think binge studying, cramming it all into one day, is a good strategy?
A much better strategy is to take short breaks after every half hour to an hour of learning to release some study tension. Dance it out, walk the dog, go for a short bike ride, run up and down the stairs, stretch, or do whatever else feels good.
Try to avoid TV, social media, or gaming, as that may further deplete your brain. Instead, focus on activities you love that boost your energy or help you recharge.
11. Try Out Different Methods
To learn better, we first must understand how we learn best. You likely fall in one of these three learner categories; visual, auditory, or kinesthetic.
Think about your preferred method for absorbing your learning content. For example, do you love reading old-fashioned textbooks? Or do you prefer PDFs on a laptop or tablet? Or do you prefer audio, such as podcasts? And maybe none of the former works for you, and you learn best by doing something.
That said, while it’s a good idea to know what style of learning works best for you, consider experimenting with other methods as well. You just might discover another method that you enjoy and that works well for you.
12. Practice Active Listening
Active listening is an important skill, though it’s not always easy.
But consider this. If you’re a person who tends to dominate conversations, you also restrict your learning capability. Because really, how can you take information in when you are the one talking?
If you want to take your learning to the next level, then start mastering the art of being an active listener. You might be surprised to discover what you learn!
13. Engage in Brain Training
What do you do when taking study breaks? Dive into your social media? Watch another episode of your favorite series?
These aren’t exactly the kind of activities that will benefit your learning capability. Plus, there’s the risk of falling into binge-mode and losing your study momentum.
Instead, choose a brain teaser or two and make your break benefit your cognitive performance!
Increased thinking speed and improved short-term memory are a few of the benefits of playing brain games.
Check out Lumosity for a great brain workout.
14. Thrive by Teaching Others
“While we teach, we learn” – Seneca
Have you ever heard of the Protégé Effect?
Here’s how it works. When you are responsible for teaching others, you generally work harder to understand the subject material better yourself.
Consider diving deeper into the subject matter by offering to tutor your peers. This approach will help reinforce your own understanding.
15. Maintain Healthy Habits
Believe it or not, maintaining health habits is an underrated requirement for effective learning.
Scheduling regular workouts and getting enough sleep are a great way to boost your brain health, as well as create better concentration, better memory, and better stress management.
In addition, while keeping healthy habits is important for our physical health, it can greatly benefit our mental health and learning as well!
Learn How To Be a Better Learner
Learning how to be a better learner requires commitment and sometimes a little thinking outside of the box. You may need to deviate here and there from your standard operating procedure when it comes to studying.
You are now fully equipped with various learning tips that will help you unleash the learning pro within you, most of which cost you nothing and can be implemented instantly.
So pick a couple of your favorites, work them into your daily routine, and give your learning ability a massive upgrade!