This article is intended to describe some basics for meta-learning, or learning about learning, to help make it easier for you to find and use techniques to increase the quality and speed of your self-directed learning. In order to adapt more quickly to the rapidly changing environments in which we live, we need to learn more effectively and efficiently. You can help your brain to absorb information more accurately and efficiently, sometimes by just changing how you take care of your body. Using meta-learning (learning about learning) techniques can help you learn how to take better care of your body in the most efficient and effective way. This approach can be applied to any task in life where we are taking on the challenge of increasing our knowledge, including some basic tasks that assist us in making the most of our brain power.
Prepare your body to Improve your memory and learn faster.
You’ll want to be sure to get plenty of sleep if you want your brain to be alert enough to absorb information. Just drinking an extra cup of coffee isn’t going to work. This means you’ll want to stop doing those late night study sessions. Instead, go to bed early, get a few hours of sleep, and then get up early so that you can study more on a well-rested brain. A lot of the time, there’s nothing wrong with you or how you study or learn: your brain just can’t hold the information because your body isn’t getting something that it needs. Often, that need is more sleep.
- How much is enough sleep really depends on you and how your body works. Seven to eight hours is what is recommended for most adults, but some people need less and some people need more. You should be able to feel awake and alert through most of the day, without the aid of coffee. If you’re tired before four or five in the afternoon, then you’re probably not getting enough sleep (or you might be getting too much).
- Studies have actually revealed that while we sleep, the brain is flushed with a fluid that cleans it of toxins. When we don’t get enough sleep, our brains are so overloaded with junk that it becomes difficult for the brain to function correctly.
Eat enough food to Improve your memory and learn faster.
When you’re hungry, your brain will have a really hard time absorbing any information. It’s hard to focus when all your body can tell you is that your stomach is empty. Make sure that you get enough food for all of the major meals.
- It’s also a good idea to make sure that you’re eating healthy foods. Junk food doesn’t give your body the nutrients it needs to perform at its best. Snack on some almonds or a couple of carrots in order to feel alert and focused, instead of bloated and tired.
Drink plenty of water, that will improve your memory and learn faster.
Your body is at its best when it’s well hydrated. When you don’t get enough water, you won’t be able to focus. You can easily become distracted, whether you realize it or not, by your thirst. It can even lead to things like a headache, making it even harder for you to learn.
- Different bodies need different amounts of water to stay hydrated. The “eight glasses a day” that you hear recommended is just a rough estimate. The best way to tell if you’re getting enough water is to look at the color of your urine. If it’s pale or clear, you’re drinking enough. Any darker color means you could use more water.
Teach your brain to learn.
Learning quickly is a habit and you might need to work to retrain your brain for good habits instead of bad ones. Improve your focus by doing complex tasks without breaks (even if they’re unrelated). Set aside a time and place that’s just for learning and keep that place sacred. Perhaps most importantly, find a way to make learning fun for you. This will make your brain want to do more and you won’t struggle to learn quite so much.
- For example, pursue learning about the subjects that you do enjoy. Eventually, your brain will master the learning skills and you can apply those skills to subject areas that you don’t enjoy too.
Activate your body by doing exercise.
Of course you know that exercise is good for your body in lots of ways, but did you know that it can also help you learn faster? Some studies have found that light exercise while studying can help you to learn faster. ] For people who are very physical and active, being forced to stay still for too long can also make it hard to stay focused, so exercising while studying can also be helpful in that way.
- For example, try walking around a large room while you read your textbook. Record your class lectures and listen to the recordings while you use an elliptical machine at the gym. There are lots of options. Just remember to keep the exercise light and do it while you study.
Pay attention when you learn things for the first time.
The best way to learn faster is to make sure that you’re really paying attention when things are explained to you the first time. Even the smallest break in your focus can cause the information not to settle properly in your brain. Unfortunately, there are few tricks for this: you’ll mostly need to learn how to maintain willpower.
- Try listening with the idea that you will have to answer a question immediately about the material, such as your teacher calling on you, or so that you can repeat the information back to yourself. In fact, if you’re on your own, repeating the information back to yourself (paraphrased and in your own words) can help to anchor the information in your brain.
Take notes of things.
Taking notes is another great way to maintain your focus as you learn the material the first time. Taking notes not only forces you to think about the material you’re learning, it also give you a framework to study from later.
- Taking notes doesn’t mean writing down everything that is said. All you have to do is write down the broad outline, with specific information when you know it’s important. Write down major facts and any explanations that you either have a hard time understanding or you know you won’t remember because they are very complicated.