In my constant search to find ways to increase my skills, I enrolled in a course called “Learning How to Learn”, from the University of San Diego, through Coursera. The course teaches how we should study and what habits are best suited to increase our learning, all this according to the latest discoveries that have been made around the functioning of our brain.
Now that March arrives and both school and university students resume their studies, it seemed to me that this information could interest more than one.
Do you want to train your brain? Train your body
Something that really caught my attention is neurogenesis. A process through which our brain creates new neurons. A few decades ago it was believed that new neurons are not generated throughout life. Today we know that this process also happens in adults and guess when it happens …
When we play sports! Apparently, the body and the mind are more connected than we thought. In 2011, a study was carried out, subjecting 120 elderly people to exercise, with two pleasant consequences, a greater volume of the hippocampus and better cognitive skills!
8 keys to studying effectively
A study in small bites
What is more effective? Study 5 hours a day or 30 minutes a day for 10 days? It is better a little each day, just the opposite of what many usually do, studying intensely the day before the exam. The reason is that the brain needs it’s time to process the information.
Becoming an expert in some activity is not something that happens suddenly, it is a process that involves small signs of progress, which must be made over time step by step and the foundations of knowledge must be solid.
When you try to learn all of a sudden in a desperate marathon, knowledge cannot fix in the brain and learning is forgotten more quickly. To learn it is necessary to repeat the concepts, process them and go training day by day.
When a concept has been studied repeatedly and has been mastered, the brain stores all the information together in a “block”, thus being able to access this block more quickly later. Therefore it recommends to repeat deliberately and review until it seems obvious what we want to master.
When a person manages to master an activity, his brain is full of blocks, ready to use. What leaves your resources available to acquire more and new information, do not strive to process the information that is already stored in blocks.
Identify and eliminate the distracters
An enemy of learning is procrastination, doing anything to avoid working (see the mail, chat, etc.). One way to avoid this happening and to work more concentrated is quite simple: use a stopwatch, remove things that distract us from our reach and work focused only on the activity we have to perform for a period of 25 minutes, and then have a small break
In order to remove the distracters, you have to identify them! Additionally, it helps to know that our vision of how unpleasant it would be to immediately begin the task we are evading is oversized.
Our brain tricks us into taking the path of immediate guilty satisfaction, instead of doing what is important. Once we started working, the discomfort that we were supposed to have to work disappears quickly.
Learn when to stop and rest
Put an end time to work. Leaving a space to rest and replenish energy for the next day. Once we exceed the amount of time and daily effort, we begin to decrease our performance, in addition, to accumulate fatigue for the following work sessions.
Do not deceive yourself by thinking that working more than ours is to be more efficient. Probably if you work a smaller amount of time and rests you will be much more efficient!
On the other hand, you should avoid sleeping less than necessary. Sleeping is important because during sleep the brain works to continue functioning properly. Sleeping little translates into less concentration, memory and of course, greater inefficiency. Not to mention that it is during the dream that knowledge is fixed.
8 keys to studying effectively
Use your most productive time (and master your other activities)
Start the day working on the most important goal you wants to achieve and as early as possible, avoiding that the unforeseen events of the day make that the most important things that had to be done are not carried out.
Not all hours of the day allow the same level of productivity, so the idea is to dedicate the most productive hours to the most important tasks and schedule the rest of your responsibilities for another time.
To help you with this, use an agenda to avoid wasting resources remembering the things you have to do. When something writes down, you save the resources that you would spend remembering it and the permanent distraction that means to be thinking about that.
If something takes less than two minutes, do it now! This prevents you from spending precious intellectual resources on being aware of what you have postponed. Just try to make those “quick bits” all at once, so they are not constantly interrupting you.
Party for the difficult
Study deliberately what is most difficult. As mentioned in the course, it is what makes the difference between a good student and an excellent student. Many times by instinct we do the opposite. We avoid that part that complicates us and we work on what is easier for us. Losing the opportunity to practice in the area that we most need.
Ask yourself questions after studying, is one of the most effective ways to achieve greater retention. For example, once you read a page, mentally review the things that retain.
Analyze your experiences for medical studies
Finally, in one of the references of the course, I found a golden advice, the rule of 30 seconds: When you live an important experience, from which you want to keep details, draw conclusions and learn, give yourself 30 seconds to write down the most relevant aspects of it and do not deceive yourself thinking that you already know what is important, do the exercise of analyzing it and you can get more out of your experiences (more blocks for your brain!).
8 keys to studying effectively
WHY RUSSIA IS A TOP MEDICINE STUDY DESTINATION
Russia has provided world-class medical education at reasonable rates to students from the world over, especially from India.