Connect with us

Ongoing Learning

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




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.


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.


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: 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 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

Continue Reading
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. benjaminsaccaggi

    Aug 12, 2016 at 13:05

    Thanks for the great read, very succinct and informative. I like ‘teach someone else’, though I do it less formally by consciously discussing what I’m studying with my friends. It helps keep our conversations interesting, and lets me relate to the information in a more relaxed manner.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Company Posts

Tips To Becoming Fluent

The ultimate goal when learning a new language is to use it fluently, as accuracy can be improved and developed over time.

Wits Language School




Learning a foreign language can be challenging and difficult, and requires great commitment and motivation. It is, however, one of the most enriching and rewarding skills that can be acquired over a lifetime. There are proven benefits to learning a second language, for example, improved intelligence, memory and concentration, as well as lowered risks of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Fluency is the ability to express oneself easily and coherently in real time. Accuracy is the ability to be correct and precise, and it means that one is communicating without any grammatical, vocabulary, tonal or any other errors. The ultimate goal when learning a new language is to use it fluently, as accuracy can be improved and developed over time.

Related: “Free” Online Courses Versus Interactive Classroom Courses

How you can improve your language fluency

There are a number of ways to improve fluency. Firstly, immerse yourself with native speakers as much as possible. Listen to them in their natural contexts and if you are unable to do this, watch movies and television shows in the language you are learning, or listen to audio books and music in that language. Another option for immersing yourself in a foreign language is to stream radio from a country that speaks it, or tune into a television station from that country on DSTV.

Find avenues to practice wherever and whenever you can.Having a friend to practice with can help you to stay motivated and focused. Practice speaking every day and try to learn new words and phrases every day. Encourage native speakers to correct you wherever possible.

Be prepared to invest a lot of time and dedication into learning a foreign language. Students are likely to stay motivated over the long-run if they have a good reason to learn the language.

The problem that many beginners encounter is that they become too focused on reaching a perfect end-stage that they get discouraged and never get past the early stages.

Become comfortable with making mistakes and try not to be perfect. Think in the language as much as possible, instead of thinking in your native language and then translating. Try to improve and remember specific grammar rules so as to avoid incomprehensibility or vagueness when communicating with native speakers.

Choose an comprehensive language course

When choosing a language course, remember to look for a course that focuses on all the language skills like reading, writing, listening, grammar and speaking. Read books, magazines, and other material in the target language whenever possible. Write something in the language every day, for example, a short sentence summing up your day, a diary entry, or an article.

Memorising lists of vocabulary can be quite challenging and very boring. A great way to build vocabulary is to learn vocabulary that is relevant to your life and things around you. You could start off by writing your “to do” lists and shopping lists in the language that you are studying. Practice by giving commands to your dog, labeling household items, and playing memory games.

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

Social media platforms are another excellent way of interacting with native speakers, as users are able to interact with each other over the internet.

Web blogs are one of the many forms of social media, and provide a platform in which people can express issues related to their lives and different viewpoints that they may have. Blogs address a wide range of topics and are used in many different ways, which makes this platform an excellent means to practice your language of choice.

Practice, practice, practice

Try not to leave long gaps between courses or take a semester off, as you will forget your language at an alarming rate. If you are planning to go on holiday, take some exercises with you so that you can do these throughout your trip.Consider booking your next trip to the country where the language you are learning is spoken.

If you are serious about learning the language and getting direct pleasure from what you have learnt, you need to go where that language is spoken. Above all, you need to enjoy learning the foreign language and never stop having fun while learning.

Continue Reading

Company Posts

“Free” Online Courses Versus Interactive Classroom Courses

The Internet is currently abuzz with advertisements for “free” online language courses and online education.

Wits Language School




While developments in technology have undoubtedly created opportunities for more people to access education, the question still remains as to whether it is actually possible to learn a language solely with the use of an online platform. Whilst there are numerous advantages to using online platforms, there are equally as many disadvantages.

Benefits of face-to-face language learning

Online platforms are limited in their capacity to support group discussions, as well as the engagement with language facilitators and tutors. Many platforms are also unable to cope with the thousands of students that try to join online discussions. Language learners benefit greatly from human interaction within a classroom. Mark Edmundson (2012), an English professor at the University of Virginia, argued that online education creates a “monologue and not a real dialogue” in the learning environment.

Classroom environments allow learners to express their opinions, participate in debates, and engage in face-to-face interaction with classmates and their instructor.

Related: Ongoing Learning For Leaders

Language facilitators are responsible for explaining material, answering questions and guiding learning based on students’ needs and language levels in real time. From an online perspective, this resource becomes diluted, as often there exists back and forth communication between the student and the facilitator over an extended period of time. Within a classroom environment, learners are immersed in the language and encouraged to speak. Learning takes place in a pro-active way with a balance of learner-facilitator interaction and group work. Language learners receive undivided attention from the facilitator, and the pace and content of the tuition is thus tailored to the learner accordingly.

Two of the benefits of online courses are that they offer flexibility and convenient accessibility; however, they also require a greater amount of self-discipline, reading and time-management skills. Online courses tend to make it easier to procrastinate and they create a sense of isolation. These elements are not conducive to successful language learning. Motivation levels are likely to decrease when using online platforms, as learners have no real external influences to help keep them motivated and inspired.

The quality and accreditation of online language courses is also a concern to most learners, as many online courses lack valid accreditation and certification. It is crucial to enrol in a course that provides legitimate information and that is accredited with a relevant board or organisation. A course that does not provide valid accreditation will serve no purpose or advantage to the learner.

Wits Language School was established in 1997 and forms part of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over the last 19 years, the school has built a reputation for providing high-quality language services and short learning programmes in a dynamic and international learning environment. Wits Language School endorses interactive teaching styles, uses up-to-date teaching methods, and employs experienced and highly qualified teachers who are mother-tongue speakers to assist all participants in their quest to learn a second language.

Related: Why You Should Keep Learning

Online learning should be considered a supplement and extension, rather than a replacement, to traditional classroom learning.

Moreover,  Wits Plus, the Centre for Part-Time Studies at the University of Witwatersrand, offers selected undergraduate degrees, as well as a wide range of short certificate courses. Evening classes make all qualifications accessible to working people and busy entrepreneurs. Wits Plus also offers a range of online short courses that enable you to study wherever you are. Certificates of Competence are awarded to successful participants for both certificate and online short courses


Continue Reading

Company Posts

Successful Adulting: Why Studying Isn’t So Scary

How to cope with studying as an adult.

Monash South Africa




Balancing the various priorities that fill your day is one of the greatest differences between studying as an adult and studying when you have just finished school. Students who have just finished school often only have their studies to focus on, whereas adults with full-time work commitments and/or a family to take care of have more on their plates.

While this is not to say that all new students having finished school do not have these priorities — more and more do these days — they also seem to have more support from the family unit. Adult students need to start their degrees with clear strategies to succeed.

Here are a few tips.

1. Make a time and a place that you can dedicate to your studies

This should allow you to work without interruption. Having your family understand and respect these boundaries is very important and critical to you doing well. If you have defined time to work, you can spend time freely with them once you are done.

Related: Struggle To Stay On Task At The Office? A New Study Says You’re Not The Only One

2. Find balance between the various aspects of your life

The best way to do this is to not fill too many hours with unnecessary work. Work or studying can easily expand to fill any amount of time you allow, and so you have to manage this so that you have enough time to work, study, relax, and do all the other things that are important to you, all the while remembering that time on task is important to your successful future.

3. If you do not understand, you should ask questions

Don’t be shy! As lecturers, we appreciate questions and enquiring minds. Understanding something now may mean the difference between passing or failing in future, so ask questions sooner rather than later.

4. Form a small study group with others

There is nothing more motivating than being on the same path as others. Everyone has different skill sets and abilities, and members of your study group will help you gain a new perspective on your work.

5. Find a mentor that you can learn good habits from and whose input you value

It takes a lot of courage to find a good mentor, but this relationship will benefit you in years to come. The key is to find someone who is in a place in life that you admire, either from a personal or professional perspective.

Related: 7 Strategies For Development As An Entrepreneur

6. Don’t fall behind with your studies and make sure you keep up to date

Take time to check that your notes are updated, in order and make sense. The best way to do this is to use some time after lessons each day to go over that day’s work to be sure you have the work well summarised and in a form that you can use for revision. Another impactful way to check your understanding of a topic is to find a friend in the class who needs help, and help them. You cannot explain the work if you don’t understand it. If you are not brave enough to do this, then draw a face on an orange or an apple and explain the work to the fruit!

Pulling it all together

Starting and completing a degree as an adult student is not as overwhelming as it may appear at first. The key is to break it down into small, manageable steps. By putting positive, constructive habits in place and surrounding yourself with a support system, you will not only obtain your degree, but enjoy the process of learning and growing.

If you’re ready to take the next step and fast forward your career, learn more about Monash South Africa’s MSA Executive education programme at

Continue Reading



Recent Posts

Follow Us

We respect your privacy. 
* indicates required.


FREE E-BOOK: How to Build an Entrepreneurial Mindset

Sign up now for Entrepreneur's Daily Newsletters to Download​​