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10 Habits That Help You Learn Twice As Fast

The quickest way to get smarter is to learn how to learn faster.

Chris W. Dunn

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The world is in constant change due to advances in technology, science, and innovation. What was considered “hot” a year ago may no longer be relevant today. Just look at all the new social media platforms that have sprouted since Facebook was created.

Despite all the good that change can bring, you have to keep up or you may get left behind. One of the best ways to stay competitive is to develop habits that can help you quickly learn new skills.

Here are 10 habits to incorporate into your learning to help you learn new material twice as fast.

1. Speed reading

We know that many successful entrepreneurs read as a daily habit. For example, Warren Buffett developed the habit of reading several hours every day.

The average reader reads at approximately 200 to 400 words per minute. The expert speed reader can do read 1 000 to 1 700 words per minute. It’s no surprise that there’s tremendous value in being able to read quickly and efficiently.

Speed reading encompasses skills such as chunking (reading groups of words instead of one word by one word), minimising subvocalisation (reducing the habit of saying the words in your head as your read), skimming (reading through a paragraph quickly to look for important and related information), and meta-guiding (using a tool such as a pen to guide your eyes in your reading).

Speed reading requires practice but once you instill the skill as a habit, you will be able to get through much more information within a shorter time period.

Related: Deon Herbst Of Enterprises University Of Pretoria On The Importance Of Ongoing Learning

2. Control your learning environment

Have you noticed that there are times in the day when you are in the flow and learning seems easy but then there are other times when nothing is sinking in and it feels like you are fighting an uphill battle? We all have biological rhythms for our sleep, body temperature and even peak mental state. Figure out when you are most alert and aware and use that time to do your learning.

Being in a fearful, disorganised and stressed state will also block access to your inner stores of creativity and intelligence. To put yourself in an optimum learning mode, choose a safe, reasonably organised, and comfortable environment. Take deep breaths to help you relax and focus.

There is also research indicating that varying the room temperature can also influence your ability to learn. Try to maintain your room temperature between 72 degrees and 80 degrees Fahrenheit in order to optimise your learning ability.

3. Take notes

Taking notes helps our brains to analyse and synthesise the information that we are learning. The very act of writing makes our brains think that we are undergoing a mini-rehearsal of the information.

Research has shown that making notes using a keyboard does not help students remember the information as well as writing it down. Writing is much slower than typing and when writing, we are forced to make quick judgments about the information that we are hearing. When we type on a keyboard, often we are not thinking about the information but merely copying it word for word.

To increase your learning speed, try to develop the habit of making hand-written notes.

I am a big fan of using tools like Evernote to sync all my notes across all my devices. It can scan and read written notes, and keep track of audio notes. This gives me confidence in the fact that I’ll never misplace an important note no matter how I decide to create the note.

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4. Combine all learning modalities

All of us have preferred learning modalities: Visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinesthetic (VARK). If you are a visual person, you will find learning a lot easier if you see the new material presented visually, such as through pictures, diagrams or PowerPoint. If you learn best by listening, then you will love podcasts, interviews, and audiobooks. Those with a reading or writing modality learn best when they can read the information and write down notes.

If you are kinesthetically-inclined, you learn better when you can use your hands and physically touch or try something out for yourself.

By understanding what your preferred learning modality is, you can speed up your absorption of information by choosing a learning system that supports your modality.

For even faster learning, combine all modalities. For example, if you are reading about coding skills from an article, read it out loud to yourself and draw a mind map while you are doing this. Then immediately try the code on your website.

Related: Breeze Website Designers’ Bongani Gosa On Learning From Mistakes

5. Create mental associations

You can shorten your learning time by creating mental associations to link what you already know to new information. Techniques such as using a familiar acronym or rhyme to help you remember different types of marketing sequences, using favourite colours to help you remember algorithms or visualising something interesting about a client to help you remember their name are all ways for you to create mental associations.

The more mental association techniques you know how to employ, the easier it will be for you to increase your learning speed.

6. Exercise your brain

A brain is just like any muscle in your body – the more you exercise it, the more effective it becomes. Try learning something new, set yourself a new challenge or use fun resources like BrainHQ and Lumosity to increase your attention, memory, cognitive abilities and brain speed. The more you train and exercise your brain, the faster your learning will be.

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7. Listen to alpha state-inducing music

We have four major types of brainwave patterns: Alpha, beta, theta and delta. Out of these, the alpha state (approximately eight to 13 Hz) is where our concentration is best and peak learning is easily achieved.

You can help your brain to enter into the alpha state by listening to music with a beat of eight to 13 Hz (such as baroque music) while you are learning. Even if you don’t like baroque music, you can use other types of music with similar beats. Try to avoid music with singing as lyrics can be distracting.

Related: Will.i.am: The Man Who Took Music to Mars

8. Modified practice after six hours

Malcolm Gladwell first popularised the concept of deliberate practice in his book “Outliers: The Story of Success.” Deliberate practice is practicing with intentional focus on skill improvement and focusing on growing out of one’s comfort zone. In his book, Gladwell uses the concept of deliberate practice to explain why some athletes and musicians improve so much faster than others.

More recent research has found that by modifying your practice slightly, you increase your learning speed, especially if you are trying to learn motor skills.

This is because the process of modifying your practice supports brain reconsolidation where existing memories are strengthened with new knowledge. The ideal time to do your modified practice is six hours after your first practice as the brain takes about six hours to do its reconsolidation work.

9. Get hands-on experience

Nothing beats learning like actual hands-on experience. Textbook knowledge transforms into something much more useful when we can combine it with practical knowledge.

For example, you can read as much as you want about share investing but until you actually buy your first shares of stock, you won’t understand what the process actually entails and what it is like to put real money on the line.

Another alternative is to fully immerse yourself in the experience of learning. For example, if you were trying to learn Spanish, spend a few months living in Mexico and don’t allow yourself to use any English while you are there. You will pick up the language a lot quicker than using audiobooks and textbooks.

10. Teach someone else what you are learning

When you teach someone else what you are learning, you retain approximately 90 percent of what you have just learned, especially if you do this immediately after learning.it yourself.

By sharing your knowledge with someone else, not only are you helping someone else but you will also discover quickly how well you know your subject and discover any gaps.

Build these ten habits into your learning and you will be amazed how quickly your learning speed will increase.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Chris Dunn is an entrepreneur, digital currency trader and advocate, author, real estate developer and angel investor. He is the founder and CEO of Skill Incubator, which helps entrepreneurs and investors develop valuable skills. He is also the host of the Pathways To Wealth podcast.

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Enhance Your Entrepreneurial Flair With An Online Postgraduate Diploma From The University Of Pretoria

The Department of Business Management at the University of Pretoria, a leader in business management education, will be offering an Online Postgraduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship for the 2018 academic year with some seminars to enrich your action learning experience.

Dr Alex Antonites

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The Department of Business Management at the University of Pretoria, a leader in business management education, will be offering an Online Postgraduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship for the 2018 academic year with some seminars to enrich your action learning experience.

The programme content focuses on the start-up processes, creativity and opportunity recognition, business planning and marketing as well as financial management. Furthermore, the programme emphasises entrepreneurial growth and small business policy development with relevance to the enabling environment.

Who should enrol?

The programme is designed for pre-, nascent and start-up entrepreneurs who want to attain an advanced degree in entrepreneurship. It is also intended for individuals who work in an entrepreneurial environment and are involved with small business policy development. Although many students in the programme have academic credentials in entrepreneurship or business management, the programme is also appropriate if your education and/or experience may be in other disciplines (e.g. engineering or medicine).

Admission requirements

A relevant bachelor’s degree.

Related: This Enterprises UP Expert Explains Why Start-Ups Really Fail

Additional programme information

The duration of the course is one year. The language of tuition is English and the course will be presented in two blocks by means of the blended learning method (70% online and 30% contact sessions). Students need continuous access to the internet to complete the course.

Course Contents

Overview of modules for Block A

  • Ideation-to-market: Starting up
  • International Business Venturing
  • Venturing Strategy Building (Part 1)

Overview of modules for Block B

  • Entrepreneurial Marketing
  • Entrepreneurial Supply Chain Management
  • Entrepreneurial Finance
  • Venturing Strategy Building (Part 2)

Click here for more information.

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How English Language Skills Play An Essential Role In Building Trust With Your Customers

The English language is the global language of business, politics, international relations and entertainment for a number of countries worldwide.

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The English language is the global language of business, politics, international relations and entertainment for a number of countries worldwide.  While English is not an official language in many of these countries, it is the language most often taught as a foreign or second language, which means that it is spoken by over two billion people.  It therefore breaks down barriers, drives global collaboration and thinking and opens doors to a multitude of opportunities around the world.

However, in spite of this leading role of English in the globalised world, management often considers language skills a ‘soft’ issue and does not recognise that  immediate or concerted efforts for change are required; or more specifically, that individuals need to be fluent in English in order to be competitive in an international business market. As  Jeff Standridge, Vice President of Global Workforce Management at Acxiom Corporation states, “We have to be able to work seamlessly across the enterprise. That requires us to overcome any language barriers that exist. Without the ability to communicate clearly, concisely and effectively, significant risks begin to enter the equation, including lower quality and lost productivity. By addressing these needs early on companies can see a significant financial impact with global initiatives”.

Companies face challenges in educating clients about services and specifics of a product when they lack English language skills. Misunderstandings or mistakes in conveying that type of information cost time, relationships and money.

Related: Effective Communication Means Business Success

The potential loss of trust and commensurate loss of business as a result of misunderstandings through language underscores the importance of a full knowledge of the language for external communications, marketing and branding as well as for handling government and media relations. Ultimately, developing trust with local and global clients and overseas partners requires highly developed English language skills. This sentiment is echoed by Herman Uscategui, Director of Global Strategic Initiatives and International Business Development, Starbucks Coffee Company:

“Advanced language skills provide the foundation to trusted relationships with customers, communities and partners”.

There are many companies and individual professionals who fail in their quest for business or professional success. This failure can primarily be attributed to one of the most basic foundations of forming business relations – the language spoken. Undoubtedly, the English language is the global language for business and having a good command of English will definitely give one who is eyeing globally competitive business or career a clear edge.  Any communication problem, whether personal or business, translates to losses, zero result in negotiations, incompetence for global business or will just simply leave you ill-equipped to carry out business.

In an increasingly aggressive and competitive environment where people work an extraordinary amount of hours and have a number of objectives to reach,  language vendors need to ensure that individuals are capable of learning successfully at their job. The best results occur when instruction is customised to employees’ roles. Subsequently, they will be able to listen to and communicate effectively with diverse people, using appropriate verbal and nonverbal behaviour, language and strategies thereby bridging geographic and linguistic barriers.

The Wits Language School English Communication for Professional Development programme customises English language solutions for public and private organisations that enable organisations and individuals to reach their language goals and to maintain their competitive edge in local and global business.

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Ongoing Learning

10 Books Tim Ferriss Thinks Every Entrepreneur Should Read

Check out these titles curated by the productivity expert and podcast host.

Emily Conklin

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Tim Ferriss, the productivity expert, author and inspirational speaker, is an avid reader, and has highlighted many books on his show and through his blog, seeking to share some of the same wisdom that inspires him.

From self-help to science fiction, there is something for everyone, and these 10 tomes have been selected from the many that make up Ferriss’s library. See what he recommends and why, and get ready to spend your Sunday mornings curled up with one – or several – of these books.

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