It is well known that the learning of theory is a necessary condition for the successful creation of any skill. The initial theoretical training saves you time and money, and it will also make your subsequent sessions as effective as possible.
There are 10 conditions for maximum learning efficiency:
- Take care of yourself.
- Get rid of all interference and irritants.
- Precisely state the essence of the skill of interest.
- Realize the limits of your ignorance.
- Create mental models and labels for your future activities.
- Check out the experience of professionals.
- Describe the negative outcome of your activity.
- Use mnemonics – spaced repetitions.
- Create a system of support and self-control.
- Design your future.
Take care of yourself
Learning something new puts a lot of stress on your entire body. Be aware of the risk of overwork. It is because of it that your efficiency may decrease, or even completely lose motivation for further studies.
It has been experimentally confirmed that the maximum training period should not exceed 90 minutes. After that, you will need to take a break for 10-15 minutes. It is recommended at this time not just to mess around, but to change your activity to the exact opposite. For example, if you were busy with static mental work, then do something that requires physical activity, or just do a warm-up. Depending on the circumstances, your classes can be divided into parts of 20 minutes with a break between them of 5 minutes.
Summing up, it must be said that the above conditions are not a template. Rather, they are guidelines and, in each case, you will need to use only a part of them. When you want to master a particular skill, start your learning by analyzing the 10 conditions below.
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Get rid of all interference and irritants
All kinds of irritants and interference either slow down or even stop your progress. Therefore, before starting your classes, try to weaken or neutralize as many distractions as possible.
Precisely formulate the essence of the skill of interest
Find several reputable sources of information about the skill you are looking for. Remember that the time you spend working with the literature on the subject greatly increases the return on subsequent practical classes. Your task, while studying the theory, is to identify the core elements of the skill and choose the right “toolkit” for their assimilation.
In this case, we can recommend a cursory review of sources with parallel extracts of key points. This technique will allow you to get more reliable information and thoroughly prepare for practice.
Realize the limits of your ignorance
When studying theory, you will quickly notice that much of the information you need is little or completely incomprehensible to you. This situation is completely normal – because the new information does not yet have connections, in your mind, with what is already there. Persistently continuing studies – first theoretical, and then practical, you will overcome these difficulties. Moreover, such awareness of the limits of one’s competence is a key condition for professionalism and continuous self-improvement.
Remember that the reluctance to admit that you do not understand something creates a barrier in your psyche. This barrier makes productive learning difficult and robs you of self-confidence.
Create mental models and labels for your future activities
By studying theory and doing practice, you will identify key elements and patterns that repeat over and over again. Try to build a mental model out of them (for example, on paper as a flowchart). The more correct your model is the more accurate predictions about the consequences of actions in a real system reflected by the model you will be able to receive. Ideally, with significant hands-on modeling experience, you will be able to do all of this in your mind. That is why modeling is called mental.
We also note that in the process of studying, you will find the similarity of some parts of the new with the old, long known to you. Use this feature for some kind of label (by analogy). Tags, as they accumulate, will greatly simplify and speed up your work.
Check out the experience of professionals
When you have mastered the main points of the skill you are interested in, you should try to communicate with professionals in this field. By talking to them, you will be able to get rid of your prejudices and distorted ideas at the very beginning of your professional development.
Describe the negative outcome of your activity
Assume that you have failed in acquiring a new skill, and everything turned out unsatisfactorily for you. This method of analyzing possible problems is called inversion. It is very effective for many tasks. The reason for this is a deeper analysis and identification of key elements of activities that may have been overlooked.
Use mnemonics – spaced repetitions
After getting acquainted with new information, if it is not repeated, it is gradually forgotten. The only way to combat this is through systematic repetition, which fixes everything you need in your long-term memory.
There are special mnemonics – spaced repetitions. Its essence is the systematic repetition of small fragments of important information. At the same time, those fragments that are more difficult to remember are repeated more often, and those that are easier – less often. Now several good computer programs greatly simplify the use of these mnemonics (for example, “Anki”, “Smart” and “SuperMemo”).
Create a system of support and self-control
The support system is a set of sorts of ritual activities that will keep you in the same mindset in every class. These ritual actions trigger the processes of mental repetition and visualization in your mind. The latter is extremely important in the course of the formation of complex motor skills.
A self-control system means creating and following a list of specific, necessary actions during practice. By doing this constantly, you will be able to concentrate very quickly, as much as possible on the necessary subject.
Design your future
You need to make it a rule to periodically, after mastering a significant portion of information, briefly answer four questions in writing:
Tell about what you already know in the subject you are studying,
Describe what you are currently studying,
What can improve your skill?
Is there anything else that can be done to improve understanding?
Analyze your answers in writing. This will make learning even more effective and allow you to anticipate the possible consequences of your actions in the future.
Try to fulfill all the listed conditions – and the result will not be long in coming.