10 ways to learn faster and be more creative

11/1/2007; 12:09 PM

How to learn difficult subjects quickly

  • 1. Bombard yourself with information. Don't try to slowly digest material, but immerse yourself in as many sources as possible. Drown yourself in information from different sources like books, internet, professionals, organizations and magazines
  • 2. Grasp the big picture. Get a good general idea of the big picture, a broad general overview of the subject, and how the different topics link together. Don’t get numbed by the details, exceptions and special cases. You'll get to these when you’re specializing in the subject at a greater depth.
  • 3. Identify key concepts and make them yours. Identify with what is being said and make it as if you own the ideas. Talk about the ideas to others, try to explain what you learnt to people who aren't familiar with the subject. This will help you crystallize the ideas in your head, help you retain the information and evaluate your comprehension of the material.
  • 4. Mingle with knowledgeable people in the subject. Mother used to say make friends with people who are better than you. This principle is important to learning quickly.

leonardo_da_vinci.jpg How to deal with too much information

  • 5. Search don't browse. If you're looking for something try to look up exactly what you want and not browse through sites to get to the information. Refining your search criteria and looking for the right source is usually quicker than following links. Start with a hypothesis and try to find evidence to prove it or refute it. This helps you target your searches better and refine the purpose of your search.
  • 6. Link the new information to what you already know. Relate the new information with previous information on the topic, and draw concept maps or mind maps to build a visual knowledge tree of the topic you’re learning about.
  • 7. Choose what to read. Overview the material, read table of contents, scan diagrams, look for keywords, introductions, conclusions and summaries, then decide whether it's worth reading or not.
  • 8. Read with a question in mind. "How can I use this?" "Does this really do what the author claims?" "What if...?" Most of the understanding is in figuring out the motivations, the choices the authors made. Reading AI

How to be creative

  • 9. Creative ideas are usually a combination of other separate ideas, for example a car is an engine + wheels, a coffee machine is a heating element + water dripper. Creativity is like cooking. Getting a number of ingredients and mixing them together in the hope that something useful comes out. Like cooking you should know the rules and then carefully bend them to create something better.
  • 10. Be fearless. Being creative has more to do with being fearless than intelligent. That's one of the reasons why getting a bit tipsy can help you be more creative. (This is the second time I mentioned alcohol as a benefit in a learning context ... mmm interesting).

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