A simple method that helps me learn anything

The stairway to learning

Everyone enjoys doing stuffs that are fun. When something is enjoyable, we want to do more of it. The key then is to make anything worth doing fun and enjoyable. The same is true of learning.


People who dread learning hate it mostly because they find learning hard and exhausting. It takes energy, focus and a great deal of patience and time to learn anything. Why would anyone want to subject to such exhaustion when there are many enjoyable alternatives: TV, phone, sleeping or just doing nothing.


But as actors in knowledge economy, we must learn and accumulate knowledge on a continuous basis. We have to continually reinvent and reinforce our intellect. Fail to do that and we begin sinking to the bottom of the pile where we will rust in incompetence. But keep on learning new stuffs, and you remain that bright and shiny tool with innumerable use for everyone around you.


So, the choice is clear. Learn and stay ahead. Way ahead. And I am going to show you how I learnt to learn anything I want but remove the drudgery while bringing in the fun and enjoyable bits to the learning process.


The most important part in learning is that the learning process should be enjoyable and fun. And it becomes instantly enjoyable when you actually learn something. The happiness that comes from knowing and learning something is greater than any drug-induced exaltation. Once you experience that feeling, you will never want to stop.


So, the most important part in learning anything is actually learning what you set out to learn. It is only when you learn that you want to keep on going. Otherwise you will feel defeated and will no longer want to learn.


Another trap that you want to avoid is the illusion of learning when in fact you are going around in circles reaching nowhere. That has been my person experience: cramming a lot of materials in the false sense that I was learning. When I tried to recall what I learnt, nothing.


The following steps have worked extremely well for me; and I have no reason to doubt why they won’t work for you.


The two types of learning: conceptual learning and skills learning

Any learning materials can be divided into two categories: concepts and skills. Concepts are the theories and the abstract like the theory of relativity. In order for you to master any subject, you have to be an efficient conceptual learner.


The other category is skills. These are the methods that you learn and execute, the actionable knowledge. Mathematics is highly method-based knowledge. If you want to master mathematics, you have to master the methods.


But most subjects require an amalgamation of the two types of knowledge. The two are learnt in different ways and this distinction is important.


To learn concepts, make connections

First break down bigger subjects into smaller concepts. All subjects have smaller concepts, and the first step should be to break them down into their conceptual units.


If you are using books to learn, you can get a good overview of your subject and its components by looking at the table of contents and flipping through the pages to look at the sub headings of the chapters. That will give you the signposts to create a mental roadmap of your subjects.


Once you have the mental roadmap, you learn a concept by focusing on one concept at a time. Spend around 30 minutes learning one concept. Use your signpost to hang your concept.


To learn skills, repeat and practice.

The only way to learn skills – any skills – is by actually doing them and practicing them. You cannot learn a skill by reading about it.


Pause, recall and reflect

The most important step, once you learn a skill or a concept, is to pause, recollect what you have learnt and reflect on it to understand it and find any gaps in your learning.


Remember these steps every time you learn any subject. You will see your learning and retention rates go through the roof.