This is part 2 of 3 of the article “How to learn new things fast!” if you haven’t read part 1 yet you can find it here.
In Part 1 I described some underlying factors as to why most people don’t really have any clear method when it comes to learning new things and why the way of trial and error is so ineffective. I also went through the absolutely crucial first step when it comes to learning: having a strong foundation to stand upon.
The next step when you have a solid foundation is to build an outer shell, erect the walls of your house so to say. I definitely recommend you to have an approach where you focus on getting an overview before you start with the details. It’s quite common that people are eager to start learning and jump directly into studying a specific detail, without having any reference to connect it to.
This is a very inefficient way. It is like trying to install a window before there is a wall to place it on. No matter how beautiful the window you have built, without a wall, it will fall to the ground and shatter as soon as you shift your focus and let it go. It will of course be easier to build your next window but it will take much more time and struggle to do it in this order.
In order to remember things the brain is using connections, new things have to be connected to something you already
know in order for you to be able to find it. This is why you have to build a shell first. Reading articles and summaries on Wikipedia, Google things or watching clips on YouTube are just a few examples on fast ways to quickly create a structure.
If you’re having some books on the topic that you want to study, don’t approach these in the same way as you read a novel. Start by reading the summary and then continue by thoroughly go through the table of contents. This will create a map in your head that you, later on, can attach the details you are going to learn to.
If you want to be efficient you should never read a non-fiction book one page after another. Feel free to jump around and use it as a reference book, highlight, and underline things you find interesting.
The main idea at this stage is though still to make you an overview of the subject as a whole and how it’s connected to other things you already know. If you encounter some parts that seem important that you don’t fully understand, take a step back and fill these holes in your foundation before moving forward.
3 Details and decorations
When you have learned this basic overview of the topic you’re studying, i.e. erected all walls and put the roof on place, it’s time to enter your house and decorate it.
In other words, when you have a basic understanding of how the different parts that are included are connected to each other, and you know enough to be able to give someone else a brief summary, it’s time to go into the details. This is where you learn specific techniques and methods on a more advanced level.
As I mentioned before, many people start with this part right away. This results in that, even though they might learn the specific details quite well, it’s difficult to connect them together. By first creating a structure it’s much easier to order things that belong together. For example in the house analogy, it’s much more obvious why and in what order you should use a WC and a sink if they are placed in a bathroom than if you encounter them while walking in a garden.
In the same way as erecting the walls and putting the roof in place on a real house can seem to be a relatively quick process for experienced builders, it’s the foundation and the details inside that take most of the time.
However, when it comes to learning things, the foundation is something you carry with you all the time and making small improvements. Compared to a real house you can reuse this foundation over and over again, only making it stronger.
What’s going to take the most time is to learn the details. You will also get the feeling that building the structure goes rather quickly while learning specific techniques can sometimes feel like not progressing at all.
I really hope you liked this second part of the article on what I’ve found to be absolutely how to learn new things fast. In the final part, I will go through probably the most important step of all. Without this final piece, everything you’ve learned with these previous steps will be totally in vain.
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