Learning How to Learn
Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects

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Below are the top discussions from Reddit that mention this online Coursera course from McMaster University.

This course gives you easy access to the invaluable learning techniques used by experts in art, music, literature, math, science, sports, and many other disciplines.

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Next cohort starts June 8. Accessible for free. Completion certificates are offered.

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Taught by
Dr. Barbara Oakley
Ramón y Cajal Distinguished Scholar of Global Digital Learning, McMaster University
and 1 more instructor

Offered by
McMaster University

Reddit Posts and Comments

16 posts • 1416 mentions • top 22 shown below

r/GetMotivated • post
6936 points • meflou
[TEXT] I just finished the online Coursera course "Learning how to learn". I highly recommend it to everyone and I summarized everything I learned from it.

>So I just finished the course https://www.coursera.org/learn/learning-how-to-learn and I can say that it has actually changed the way I perceive my studies. I strongly recommend it to anyone willing to put some efforts to change the way you learn.

>If you are like me, and you got tired of all the click-bait rubbish that surrounds the productivity articles and advices you will find on the internet, then this is the course for you, and it is the last course you need.

>Almost every single video of the course references a bunch of scientific papers. It is almost entirely based on scientific researches. It introduces you lightly to the concept of how the brain function, how memory works, why procrastination happens, and so many other related subjects that include practical tips on how to learn more efficiently.

> In addition to all the lectures, the course features a lot of interviews with highly prolific scientists and some notable people like Nelson Dellis, the four-time USA Memory Champion.

> Without further ado, here are all the notes I wrote down while taking the course, organized in a chronological order that follows the course structure.

 
> Edit: As some of you have pointed out, the book A mind for numbers is the book that the MOOC was based on. Dr, Barbara Oakley, the author of the book, is a woman who started learning mathematics at the age of 26, and is now a professor of engineering at the university of Oakland.

 
 
 


Week 1: What is Learning?


 
Brain Facts:

  • Cells of the nervous system are called neurons. Information from one neuron flows to another neuron across a synapse. Human brain has a million billion synapses.

  • Your brain creates synapses whenever you learn something new. Sleeping helps "update" your brain cells. Literally.

 
Why do we procrastinate (scientifically):

Problem:

Learning a new thing or doing something you would rather not do can be stressing. This can cause anxiety at first. This activates the area associated with pain in the brain.

Your brain looks for a way to stop that negative feeling by switching your attention to something else more pleasant.

Solution:

The trick is to just start. Researchers discovered that not long after people start actually working out what they didn’t like, that neuro-discomfort disappeared.

Remember that the better you get at something, the more enjoyable it can become.

Consider using the pomodoro technique.

 
Learning hard and abstract things:

The more abstract something is, the more important it is to practice to create and strengthen neural connections to bring the abstract ideas to reality for you.

Ex: You should practice a lot with the math vocabulary to understand it and recall it easier. [∫∞e^x dx, k!(n−k)!]

 
Summary of what I learnt:

  1. There are two modes of thinking:

    1. Focused mode: Concentrating on things that are usually familiar.

    2. Diffused mode: A relaxed mode of thinking "your thoughts are free to wander".

  2. When you don’t desire doing/learning something, go through it and just start. The discomfort goes away and, in the long term, this will lead to satisfaction.

  3. When you learn something new, make sure to take time to rest, then come back to it and recall what you learnt.

    1. This is very important. Don’t cram information in one day. This leads to inefficient learning. It’s like building a wall without letting it dry.

    2. Revisiting and practicing what you learn is important. Research shows that spaced repetition (repeating things after few days) is the best way to build and strengthen the synaptic connections.

  4. Sleep is very important. It clears the metabolic toxins from the brain after a day of "brain use". It is best to sleep directly after learning new things.

  5. It was shown that exercising and/or being in a rich social environment helps your brain produce new neurons. Don’t lock yourself in your room. Stay active and spare time for exercise (including general physical activities) and friends daily.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Week 2: Chunking


 

Chunks:

Pieces of information, neuroscientifically speaking, bond together through use and meaning. They can get bigger and more complex, but at the same time, they are single easy to access items that can fit into the slot of the working memory.

  • Chunking is the act of grouping concepts into compact packages of information that are easier for the mind to access.

  • Example: If you understand and practice a math formula. You no longer will need to focus much to solve it like you did the first time. That’s because your "formula chunk" got so abstracted into your brain that it can only take one slot of your working memory to solve it.

 
Turn off distractions. You want to use all the four slots of your working memory when studying. Learning will be inefficient if some of those slots are connected to something else.

 
You have to solve the problem yourself. Just because you see it, or even understand it, doesn't mean that you will be able to solve it (Illusion of competence). It is always easier to look at the material, even if you think it’s easy, then doing it yourself.

 
It gets easier. When you think that a chapter or a book has too much information and that there’s no way to go through them all; just focus on whatever section you’re studying. You’ll find that once you put that first concept in your mental library, the following one will be easier.

This concept is called Transfer; a chunk you have mastered in one area can often help you much more easily learn other chunks of information in different areas.

 
Master the major idea and then start getting deeper. However, make sure not to get stuck in some details before having a general idea. Practice to help yourself gain mastery and sense of the big picture context. Try taking a "picture walk" before you dig through the material, this means, look briefly at the pictures, chapter titles, formulas used… before diving into details.

 
Recall mentally without looking at the material. This is proven more effective than to simply rereading. Reread only after you try to recall and write down what was in the material.

Consider recalling when you are in different places to become independent of the cues from any giving location. This will help you when taking a test in the class.

 
Test yourself to make sure you are actually learning and not fooling yourself into learning. Mistakes are a good thing. They allow you to catch illusions of competence.

 
Don’t always trust your initial intuition. Einstellung problem (a German word for Mindset). An idea or a neural pattern you developed might prevent a new better idea from being found. Sometimes your initial intuition on what you need to be doing is misleading.You’ve to unlearn old ideas and approaches as you are learning new ones.

 
Mix up the problems (Interleaving) from different chapters. This is helpful to create connections between your chunks. It can make your learning a bit more difficult, but it helps you learn more deeply. Interleaving is very important. It is where you leave the world of practice and repetition, and begin thinking more independently.

 
 
 
Don’ts:

  • Highlighting too much and creating maps are often ineffective without recalling.

  • Repeating something you already learnt or know very well is easy. It can bring the illusion of competence; that you’ve mastered the full material when you actually just know the easy stuff. Balance your studies and focus on the more difficult (deliberate practice). This sets the difference between a good student and a great student.

  • A big mistake is to blindly start working on an exercise without reading the textbook or attending the class. This is a recipe of sinking. It’s like randomly allowing a thought to pop off in the focus mode without paying attention to where the solution truly lies.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Week 3: Procrastination and Memory


 

Procrastination:

  • The routine, habitual responses your brain falls into when you try to do something hard or unpleasant. Focusing only on making the present moment feels better.

  • Unlike procrastination which is easy to fall into, Willpower is hard to come by. It uses a lot of neural resources and you shouldn’t waste it on fending off procrastination except when really necessary. You actually don’t need to.

  • The long-term effect of Procrastination can be dangerous. Putting your studies off leads to studying becoming even more painful. Procrastination is a habit that affects many areas of your life, if you improve in this area, many positive changes will unfold.

  • Procrastination shares features with addiction. At first, it leads you to think that if you study too early you’ll forget the material. Then, when the class is ahead of you, it leads you to think that you are inadequate or that the subject is too hard.

  • You want to avoid cramming which doesn’t build solid neural structures, by putting the same amount into your learning, and spacing it over a long period by starting earlier.

 
First time learning something:

  • The first time you do something the deluge of information coming at you would make the job seem almost impossibly difficult. But, once you've chunked it, it will be simple.

  • At first, it's really hard, later it's easy. It becomes like a habit. Ex: Driving for the first time.

 
Habits:

  • Neuro-scientifically speaking, chunking is related to habit.

  • Habit is an energy saver. You don’t need to focus when performing different habitual tasks.

  • Habits can be good or bad, brief or long.

 
Habits Parts:

  1. The cue: The trigger that launches you into zombie mode (habitual routine).

    1. Recognize what launches you in zombie procrastination mode:

      1. Location. Time. Feelings. Reaction to people or events…
    2. Consider shutting your phone/internet for brief periods of time to prevent most cues.

  2. The routine: Routine you do in reaction to the cue.

    1. You only need to use your willpower to change your reaction to the cues.

    2. Actively focus on rewiring your old habits.

      1. You need a plan. You need some willpower.
  3. The reward: Habits exist because they reward us.

    1. Give yourself bigger rewards for bigger achievements. But after you finish them.

      1. Ex: If I study for 4 hours today, I’ll watch a movie, guilt free, at night.
    2. Habits are powerful because they create neurological cravings. It helps to add a new reward if you want to overcome your previous cravings.

    3. Only once your brain starts expecting a reward will the important rewiring takes place that will allow you to create new habits.

  4. The belief: To change your habits, you need to change your underlying belief.

    1. Ex: You might feel like you’ll never be able to change the habit of studying late. This is not true. You can actually rewire your brain

    2. Joining a student community helps, either online or in real life.

    3. Trust your system. You have to feel happy and worry-free when you are resting.

 
Weekly/Daily list:

  • Researchers showed that writing your daily list the evening before helps you accomplish them the next day. If you don’t write them down, they will take the valuable slots of memory.

  • Plan your finishing time, this is as important as planning your working time.

  • Work in the most important and most disliked task first, even if it’s only one pomodoro.

  • Take notes about what works and what doesn’t.

  • Have a backup plan for when you will still procrastinate.

 
Focus on Process:

You should realize that it’s perfectly normal to start a learning session with a negative feeling even if you like the subject. It’s how you handle those feelings that matters.

Solution: Focus on the process, not the product. The product is what triggers the pain that causes you to procrastinate. Instead of saying "I will solve this task today", put your best effort for a period of time continuously over the days.

 
Memory:

  • Use your visual memory to remember things.

    • Ex: Link a memorable picture to a formula.
  • Images help you encapsulate a very hard to remember concept by tapping into visual areas with enhanced memory abilities.

  • The more neural hooks you can build by evoking the senses the easier it will be for you to recall the concept.

  • Keep repeating what you want to learn so that the metabolic toxins won’t suck away the neural patterns related to that memory. Spaced repetition is the key.

  • Flashcards help. Consider using Anki.

  • Handwriting helps you deeply convert what you are trying to learn into neural memory structures.

 
Memory Techniques:

  • Create meaningful groups and abbreviations.

  • To remember numbers, associate them to memorable events.

  • Create mnemonic phrases from first letters of the words you want to remember.

  • Memory Palace Technique: Use a familiar place (like the blueprint of your house) and associate visual images of things you want to remember with physical places.

    • This is not easy. You’ll be very slow at first. But with practice, you’ll get better.

    • The more you practice your "memory muscle" the easier you’ll remember.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Week 4: Renaissance Learning and Unlocking Your Potential


 

You should know:

  • Exercising is by far more effective than any drug to help you learn better. It helps new neurons survive.

  • Learning doesn't always progress linearly and logically. Inevitably your brain will hit a knowledge-collapse sometimes. This usually means your brain is restructuring its understanding, building a more solid foundation.

  • You learn complex concepts by trying to make sense out of the information you perceive. Not by having someone else telling it to you.

 
Metaphors

  • Metaphors and analogies are very helpful, not only to memorize, but to also understand different concepts.

  • It is often helpful to pretend that you are the concept you’re trying to understand.

 
Intelligence:

  • Intelligence does matter. Being smart usually equate to having a large working memory (more than just four slots).

  • However, a super working memory can hold its thoughts so tightly that new thoughts won’t easily find a way into the brain. Such a tightly controlled attention could use an occasional breath of ADHD. You attention shifts even if you don’t want it to shift.

  • Deliberate practice is what helps the average brain lift into the realm of those naturally gifted. Practicing certain mental patterns deepens your mind.

  • Brilliant scientist like Ramón y Cajal, the father of neuroscience, or Charles Darwin, were not exceptionally gifted. The key to their success was perseverance, taking responsibility for their learning and changing their thoughts.

  • Take pride in the qualities you excel at. Tune people out if they try to demean your efforts.

 
Right hemisphere:

  • Helps us put our work into the big picture perspective and does reality checks.

  • When you go through a homework or test questions and don’t go back to check your work, you’re acting like a person who’s refusing to use parts of his brain.

 
Left hemisphere:

  • Interprets the world for us but with a tendency for rigidity, dogmatism and egocentricity.

  • May lead to overconfidence. Ex: believing dismissively that your answers are corrects.

 
Best practices:

  • Always step back and recheck to takes advantages of abilities of both-hemispheres interactions.

  • Brainstorm and find focused people to analyze your work with.

    • Your errors are sometimes easier to be found by others.

    • Explaining yourself to others helps you understand more.

    • Studying in a team helps you catch what you missed, or what you can’t see.

  • Don’t fool yourself. Don’t blindly believe in your intellectual abilities. Having a team can bring those projections down.

 
Test Checklist:

  • Did you make a serious effort to understand the text? If you had a study guide, did you go through it?

  • Did you attempt to outline every homework problem solution?

  • Did you understand all your homework problems’ solutions? If not, did you ask for explanations?

  • Did you work with classmates on homework problems? checked your solutions?

  • Did you consult your instructor/teacher when you had a problem with something?

  • Did you sleep well the night before the test?

 
Test Taking Technique: Hard Start - Jump to easy: (Try this strategy with homework problems first)

  1. Take a quick look at the test when it’s handed to you to get a sense of what it involves.

  2. Start with the hardest problem. Pull yourself out if you get stuck for over 2 minutes. Starting with a hard problem loads your focused mode first and then switches attention away from it. This allows the diffused mode to start its work.

  3. Turn next to an easy problem. Solves what you can, then move back to a hard one. This allows the different part of your brain to work simultaneously on different thoughts.

 
Taking Test Tips:

  • Being Stressed before a test is normal. The body puts ups out chemicals when it’s under stress. How you interpret the body reaction to those chemicals makes all the difference.

    • Shift your thinking from "I am afraid of this test" to “I am excited to do my best”.
  • If you are stressed during a test, turn your attention to breathing. Relax, put your hand on your stomach and slowly draw some deep breaths. This will calm you down.

  • Relax your brain on the last day before a test. Have a quick final look at the materials. Feeling guilty the last day is a natural reaction even if you prepared well. So relax.

  • Good worry motivates you. Bad worry wastes your energy.

  • Double check your answers. Look away, shift your attention, and then recheck.

 
 

 


 

As pointed out early on, make sure to check the book A mind for numbers if you wish to explore what was discussed here at a deeper level.

This summary is also on Google Docs. Your contributions are welcome.

r/AskReddit • comment
1180 points • combatTraginis

They have a course for this, one of the popular ones. learning how to learn

r/productivity • post
1055 points • Pianoismyforte
Quick reminder: "Learning How to Learn" is an amazing class

You can find it here.

Basically this class will help you understand how the brain works in service to learning subjects more quickly.

The benefits to productivity won't come quickly, but if you've got a curious mind and are looking for a short hobby that will make life a bit easier, I'd absolutely recommend it.

r/science • comment
636 points • Zhu_Drake

If you're interested in applying this information practically, there is a free course online from McMaster University & University of San Diego. They cover this topic of exercise improving brain function (memory in particular).

r/IAmA • post
3485 points • NoImNotJustAsian
I am a self taught app developer, who learned through coding a little bit everyday for the last three years. Today I am launching my first application to help others do the same. AMA

Hi my name is Shing So and I have been following a No Zero Days mentality for the last three years and have taught myself how to develop phone apps. Proof

Background

Three years ago I ran into a reddit post about a system called No Zero Days. The idea was to do something everyday, no matter the size, towards your goal. No having much direction or knowledge, I decided that I wanted to learn how to code. When I first started I bought a online course and tackled one video lesson a day. Starting off, I learned very slowly. I took several beginner coding courses as I wasn't picking up a lot of the key concepts. Eventually I went towards application development and began coding, 1-2 hours, on simple applications everyday.

A big leap forward in my learning journey came from another reddit post, which talked about Learning How to Learn. Learning How To Learn gave insight on why I procrastinated so much. After applying several of the methods learned for learning, I was understanding material much quicker. Through applying these learning methods, I learned how to use AWS and deployed my own servers so I could utilize a backend for my apps. Learning How to Learn is a free course on which you can find here.

What have I learned?

The most important lesson that I have learned through my journey is that difficult problems and concepts generally take more than one look to solve or understand. A tendency that I used to have was to give up at the first sign of difficultly. Its scary when something doesn't click in your head and you have to face the idea that maybe you never under figure it out.

There were many times when I was developing an application where I would run into a problem I thought was impossible for me to solve. I would be dealing with the same problem for weeks, not making any progress towards a solution. Although there were many times I doubted my own ability to solve a problem, there wasn't a single time were a didn't eventually find a solution.

Another lesson is that habits work better than motivation. Motivation is very good at burst of actions but don't really help when times get difficult. Achieving goals and getting good at something requires consistent action and a long term commitment. Habits take between three month to a year to form depending on what you are to do. I believe that building good habits is the best investment you can make.

Also when starting something new, it's best to take slow small steps. It's more important to form long term habits than to go hard and eventually give up.

Whats the app?

The application I am launching today is called Steps - Action Inspires. It's a social media application crossed between a habit tracker. You set Todos, which is an action you plan to do consistently throughout the week. Whenever you complete a Todo, it shows up on your followers feeds. Your media feed is comprised of actions of the people you follow.

Tracking your progress is crucial when you attempting something new and challenging . A huge motivating factor for me was seeing the growth and improvement I was making. I believe that by seeing what others are doing towards their goals and the effort it takes to become successful is inspirational and provides additional motivation

Moving Forward

As coding everyday is a strong habit of mine, I will continue to work on coding and improving Steps everyday. There are still many aspects which will be improved on such as design. You can follow me on my app, my username is im_so_shing. I'll definitely follow you back as I am excited to see the progress and actions people will take.

I've made a simple website to showcase the application at stepsactioninspires.com and if you would like to start your Steps today you can download it on IOS (apple store page) and Android (google play page)

r/cscareerquestions • post
1740 points • PrepperoniPrepza
Graduated with a 2.4 GPA 1 year ago. After studying my ass off, I now have offers from 3 of the Big X. Here’s how I did it, and perhaps how you could too. Detailed stats included.

When I graduated a year ago, I failed all my interviews with the Big X even after grinding through about 200 leetcode questions. So I decided to try something different with my new wave of studying a couple of months later while I was working as a software engineer at one of the companies I did get an offer from (enterprise software company).

I started out by doing some research on how to effectively learn, and found a relatively well known and free online course called Learning How to Learn. The course is rather short and only took me about 8 hours to go through, but what I learned from it was a huge help.

After completing the course, I decided to use this free promo code for interviewcake that I got from a hackathon and went through about half of the problems on that website (did about 20 problems). Most of them problems were ones I’ve already seen on leetcode, so it was more of a warm up / review. One thing new thing I did was to write down each problem I did in a google sheets document along with the date I solved the problem (linked in the bottom). I would then review the problems I did for the past week to make sure I didn’t forget how to do them. This was a tip I picked up from the online course -- the power of recalling + spaced repetition.

Next, I grabbed a copy of Elements of Programming Interviews in Python (if you’re going to buy it, make sure to check their website to see how to get the latest version and also use their free command line judging tool to check your answers). I also learned python specifically for interviewing because of how concise the language is, meaning you could write your code much faster, which I think played a notable role in my interviews. I started going through EPI’s study guide mentioned in one of their intro chapters that had a list of recommended problems. I decided to go with EPI because I’ve already gone through 200 leetcode questions, but I wanted to read the more in depth explanations that EPI had and learn how the book explains the solutions to problems so that I could pull off something similar when explaining / solving problems in interviews. I ended up solving about 2/3s of the problems that were in the study guide.

By this point, I felt ready to start interviewing. At least for the little guys. So I started mass applying to companies that I was only mildly interested in, saving my top choices like the Big X for last, as I would be more prepared for those interviews after prepping more with both the practice problems and with actual interviews with the companies I am less interested in.

I got a massive number of rejections (see the second to last paragraph for stats). But every once in a while, I did get an interview too and I made sure to utilize them. I should mention that with one year of experience, I was applying to mostly entry level positions, but if a company didn’t list any entry level ones, I applied to more senior positions, whether or not I qualified for them. I did get a few interviews for those senior positions btw. I had about 2 or 3 interviews a week for a couple of weeks from this.

After doing about a dozen interviews, I started feeling more confident and was ready to start applying to my top choices. This is where I started using leetcode again. I got the leetcode premium subscription for a month to practice tagged questions for specific companies I was interviewing for.

Finally, it was time for the Big X interviews. I took two weeks off from work and scheduled all of my Big X interviews to take place in these two weeks. There were several leetcode questions of varying difficulties that were presented, some I recall from EPI as well, but also a go od number of questions that I’ve never heard of. Nevertheless, after being exposed to so many problems and working through them, you’ll start to get a feel of how to approach most problems. I definitely didn’t ace every single interview. There were several interviews where there was plenty of room to improve my solutions, even some that I didn’t finish coding up the solution for. But I made sure to explain every detail of my thought process. Try to keep talking. Vocalize everything you are writing on the whiteboard. Draw examples. I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of these tips, but ultimately, the most important factor was just to practice enough to the point where you can tackle almost any problem thrown at you. Do a lot of different type of problems. Review them, and thoroughly understand them.

Here are all the problems I worked on for this wave of studying, which I reviewed via recalling, religiously. Problems prefixed like “14.4 <problem name>” are from EPI chapter 14 problem 4 (mapping depends on book version). Problems prefixed like “128. <problem name>” are from leetcode. The others are from various sources, such as interview cake.

In the end, I received 5 offers (3 from the Big X), and about 100 rejections (individual companies, if it was just applications then more like 300 rejections), including the companies I never heard back from. I did a total 11 onsites and 23 technical phone screens where I had to code. I also tracked every minute I spent studying and for this study wave, I spent 130 hours. For the previous wave about a year ago where I was primarily grinding leetcode, I spent 275 hours.

Feel free to ask me any questions you have and I will try to get back to everyone, at least eventually. Hope this helps!

r/productivity • post
417 points • Rainymood_XI
I can highly recommend the online Coursera course "Learning how to learn"

https://www.coursera.org/learn/learning-how-to-learn

It's a 4 week course backed by science and explained by a woman who started learning mathemathics at 26 (!!), and is now a professor of engineering at the university of Oakland.

It contains a lot of practical tips and while most of the tips you already know (sleep well, exercise, etc.) I feel like there is a lot of new stuff as well that you can use to hack your life and be more productive!

I finished the course in 2 weeks and took some extensive notes and I feel like I really learned some new stuff to use during my PhD studies :). The advice is applicable for high school all the way up to PhD!

r/EngineeringStudents • post
1063 points • Pianoismyforte
Take the time to learn how to learn

When I was in high school, I never really challenged myself. Now this isn’t a bid to say “look at me, I’m smart”, because I wasn’t particularly smart. My parents had high standards, and I would work just hard enough to get grades that would keep them off my back.

The downstream effects of this were terrible. I was lazy in college, got grades “good enough” to stay in school, and my extracurricular activities consisted of playing way too many video games and occasionally drinking and partying with friends.

I found that I had started coasting in life: I was doing well enough to feed myself and put a roof over my head, but my guitar was collecting dust, my lack of financial planning was sabotaging my future, and my my scrawny frame and lack of self-care wasn’t turning any heads.

Cut forward a decade and I’ve been studying every productivity method under the sun for the gamified task/habit tracker I’m building. In other words, these days it is my job to learn, test and improve everything productivity. When I reflect on all I learned, I realized that I wish I had these resources when I was in college, so I thought I would share the best I've found with you:

  • First, learn how to learn. It turns out that learning is a skill itself; a skill that, when practiced, can make you more efficient at learning anything. Coursera has a fantastic class called “Learning How to Learn” that teaches how the brain learns efficiently, how to better remember what you learn, and how to avoid procrastination and “fake learning”.
  • Second, your mindset is essential. Being kind to yourself is imperative to your success. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to be kind to yourself, especially when you fail or fall off the bandwagon. The more you are mean to yourself, the more you build a habit of avoiding important things in your life. Here’s an example of how this works: when I would avoid working out, I would often think things like "I can't be disciplined enough to workout consistently, what's wrong with me?". Instead of those thoughts, I changed my narrative to "It's OK that I missed a workout, everyone skips a workout day sometimes. All that matters if that I will get better if I keep trying", or "It's alright that I'm not doing the optimal workout program, if I show up and workout that's great".
  • Third, add emotional journaling. This 3 minute activity had a huge impact on my mood and willingness to learn when I wanted to. All you do is sit, observe your feelings, and try and label them as accurately as possible. This works because it allows you to understand your emotions. When you understand your emotions, you can take more control over your life: instead of your emotions leading your actions, you can lead them. Pacifica is a great app that makes it easy to start and stick with emotional journaling.
  • Fourth, get a task/habit tracker. It’s hard to see just how much you accomplish day-to-day until you start tracking what you do. It is also hard to keep yourself focused when you carry everything you have to do in your head. But to make using a tracker really effective, you need to take the time to congratulate yourself for you successes.

A point about congratulating yourself on your successes: there are many ways to do this, and you should try multiple strategies until you find one that works for you. One strategy is to take a moment whenever you cross off an item and consider how hard you had to work to earn it. If you like video games another is to use a gamified task/habit tracker. I currently use the one I’m building because I love the feeling of getting rewards in a video game.

If you'd like to try it out, you can do so here.

Tl;dr: I've studied and testing tons of productivity methods. I wish I had the resources I have now when I needed to study, so I thought I'd share the best of them with you.

r/ADHD • post
239 points • quinoa2013
Coursera "Learning how to learn" Amazing FREE class covers how to study, procrastination, memory... everything.

I signed up for this class a few months ago and did not have time to do it. Recently my job took a turn for toughness - an unending series of very complex technical writing assignments - and I turned to this class for help. I have engineering degrees, a business degree, relevant work experience and I do Khan Academy for fun. This class covers "study" topics I have never had exposure to before, but breaks it down in small, accessible bites. It is very applicable to the situation of too much work, a high degree of complexity, and not knowing how it can even be finished. Ways to avoid procrastination is a big topic. This class has rocked my world. I listen via the coursera app on Iphone, no need to see the slides. The last 2 weeks are the best.

If you are in this subreddit, you need to take the class. Begins November 2

Did I mention free?

https://www.coursera.org/learn/learning-how-to-learn

r/getdisciplined • post
199 points • throw-thine-away
[NeedAdvice] I can't escape the vicious cycle of getting into a slump before starting 'fresh', rinse and repeat

I think this post is likely going to be similar to a lot of other posts asking for advice on this sub, and I apologize in advance for that. Venting about this will do me some good.

I bumbled my way academically through elementary, middle, and high school and through artificial grade-boosting, among other factors, I never did all that bad. But I had never once truly sat down and studied for something for several hours, and my ability to finish homework in any timely manner eroded as well. People saw me as fairly driven (I would start and join a lot of clubs and I somehow maintained the appearance of doing alright in classes) so I guess I deluded myself into thinking I was.

I'm now in my sophomore year of college and on the brink of flunking out. Should this occur and should I have to move back in with my parents, most of my friendships and commitments (my job and a club I run on campus being two that instantly spring to mind), will fall through in spectacular fashion. No amount of horrid grades seem to get through to me. I always reach out to people at the beginning of a class, thinking if we work together, then I will have some form of accountability. Later they, say, ask me for help with an assignment, and I ignore the message until the due date passes and apologize for never having seen the message, when in reality I am so disgustingly far behind on the material that I don't even want to attempt the assignment. I have some know-how. I've read a good amount of posts on this sub for example and have implemented many of the techniques suggested. I've also read and implemented a few self-help books (shoutout to David Allen's "Getting Things Done"). And it works! Kinda.

I am actually pretty good about any non-academic tasks, even if they require a good amount of discipline. It's when we get to my college classes that the 'Vicious Cycle' I mentioned in the title manifests itself. I start strong, fail something, despair, fall into a slump, tell myself that my lofty aspirations won't come true if I stay like this, start strong again, and so on. I almost always have a terrifying amount of things to catch up on, which deters me from doing them and exacerbates the problem. And I know firsthand that my not doing well in classes turns me from an outgoing person to a social recluse, and kills my motivation to continue side-projects in which people are depending on my help.

There's a lot more on this that I wish to say but am not sure how to phrase (also I have to go to work soon and really just want to submit this ahaha). Regardless, I feel much better after writing this. I'm currently attempting to get back on track after missing a crucial deadline yesterday that may or may not have sealed my fate to fail out of university. I promise to try hard to prevent the worst from happening and work my way up from there. I'm just so afraid of the consequences, and it is that fear (coupled with crippling laziness) that has brought me so close to them.

Any advice or thoughts would be fantastic. Thanks so much to all of you for helping make this sub what it is, so people in situations like mine can seek help!

EDIT: So many comments while I was asleep :D I'm sincerely grateful for all this feedback and I refuse to let it be wasted on me. For any of you looking for the Learning How To Learn course /u/CStYle002 mentioned, /u/leboredengineer pointed to Coursera, and I believe this is the course in question.

r/GetStudying • post
139 points • samofny
"Learning How to Learn" has become the most popular course on Coursera
r/Nootropics • comment
132 points • wolvawolva

This class is supposedly amazing https://www.coursera.org/learn/learning-how-to-learn

r/GetStudying • post
252 points • DefunctWalrus
I made a summary of the "Learning how to learn" course on coursera.

Obviously, the course goes into far more detail, so I recommend taking it. It only took me a couple hours.

https://www.coursera.org/learn/learning-how-to-learn

&#x200B;

Here we go:

  1. Use both diffuse and focused thinking.
  2. Use the pomodoro method to reduce procrastination.
  3. Repetition and practice are key.
  4. Use chunking; remove distractions when working, ensure understanding of the key concept of the chunk, establish the context of when the chunk should be used.
  5. Use physical exercise to access diffuse thinking.
  6. Never multitask, because focusing on more than one thing is almost impossible.
  7. Don't reread the textbook/notes, use active recall.
  8. Surround yourself with productive and stimulating people.
  9. Being passionate and persistent is more important than being smart.
  10. Illusion of confidence: when you think you know/understand something when you are reading about it, but when the resource you are using is taken away, you don't.
  11. Procrastination is a habit. Habits are made of routines in response to cues which produce rewards, and reinforced by beliefs. By changing these factors, procrastination can be reduced, as the habit fades.
  12. Focus on the process, not the product. Break the task down into parts and work your way through these over time rather than attempting to tackle all of it at once.
  13. Break your day and week down into tasks and set a specific time for studying, e.g. 9-5, and stick to this. Do the hardest task first.
  14. Humans evolved to have better visual and spatial memory than semantic/conceptual memory, so use mental images to remember things.
  15. Shorter but regular study over time is more effective than trying to study something in a single longer session.
  16. Simplify material into meaningful groups to make learning easier: use abbreviations, use mnemonics, associate words/numbers with feelings or personal events, and use the memory palace technique.
  17. Create metaphors or analogies to help remember concepts.
  18. Take responsibility for your own learning.
  19. Catch blind spots and errors by rechecking work and working with others.
  20. Sleep is essential to retaining learnt information, so make sure you get plenty.
  21. During tests, tackle the hardest questions first, but switch to an easier one and come back to them if you get stuck; keep the momentum going.
  22. The way you think about stress affects your performance. Switch your thinking from "i'm afraid" to "this stress will make me more motivated."
  23. If you are excessively stressed, focus on your breathing and put a hand on your stomach, feeling the rise and fall to calm yourself.
  24. Before doing an important test, make sure you have a plan B for if the test doesn't go well. This will make your less anxious, improving focus.
  25. The day before a test, keep study relatively light to ensure mental energy is preserved for the test.

r/getdisciplined • comment
117 points • kippengaas

Is it this one? https://www.coursera.org/learn/learning-how-to-learn

r/languagelearning • post
315 points • Pianoismyforte
Take the time to learn how to learn

When I was in high school, I never really challenged myself. Now this isn’t a bid to say “look at me, I’m smart”, because I wasn’t particularly smart. My parents had high standards, and I would work just hard enough to get grades that would keep them off my back.

The downstream effects of this were terrible. I was lazy in college, got grades “good enough” to stay in school, and my extracurricular activities consisted of playing way too many video games and occasionally drinking and partying with friends.

This bad habit extended into my desire to learn Dutch (I have family in the Netherlands). I would collect resources on it, make a mediocre plan, and give it a shot for a couple weeks. But inevitably I would fall off the wagon; the results of my efforts a growing collection of dusty books, apps, and notebooks.

Over time I realized this "get excited, start something, then drop off" was a trend that applied to all aspects of my life, and that needed to change.

Cut forward a decade and I’ve been studying every productivity method under the sun for the gamified task/habit tracker I’m building. It took years and years of doing this, but I eventually fixed this behavior, and I wanted to share the best resources with all of you:

  • First, learn how to learn. It turns out that learning is a skill itself; a skill that, when practiced, can make you more efficient at learning anything. Coursera has a fantastic class called “Learning How to Learn” that teaches how the brain learns efficiently, how to better remember what you learn, and how to avoid procrastination or “fake learning”.
  • Second, your mindset is essential. I’ve seen most people fail because they aren’t willing to be kind to themselves when they inevitably make mistakes. Here’s an example of how this works: when I would avoid studying Dutch, I would often think things like "I can't be disciplined enough to study consistently, what's wrong with me?". Instead of those thoughts, I changed my narrative to "It's OK that I missed a studying today, everyone skips a day sometimes. All that matters if that I will get better if I keep trying", or "It's alright that I'm not doing the optimal learning program, if I show up and work on it that's great".
  • Third, add emotional journaling. This 3 minute activity had a huge impact on my mood and willingness to learn when I wanted to. All you do is sit, observe your feelings, and try and label them as accurately as possible. This works because it allows you to understand your emotions, so instead of your emotions lead your actions, you can lead them. Pacifica is a great app that makes it easy to start and stick with emotional journaling.
  • Fourth, get a task/habit tracker. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to track what you do. It’s hard to see just how much you accomplish day-to-day until you start tracking what you do. It is also hard to keep yourself focused when you carry everything you have to do in your head. Also, many of the things people want to learn in this subreddit need to become habits, so making sure your task tracker can remind you of your habits is incredibly useful. But to make using a tracker really effective, you need to take the time to congratulate yourself for you successes.

A point about congratulating yourself on your successes: there are many ways to do this, and you should try multiple strategies until you find one that works for you. One strategy is to take a moment whenever you cross off an item and consider how hard you had to work to earn it. If you like video games another is to use a gamified task/habit tracker. I currently use the one I’m building because I love the feeling of getting rewards in a video game.

If you'd like to try it out, you can do so here.

Tl;dr: Learning can be a difficult, draining process. I used to be terrible at it, no matter how much I wanted to do it. After spending a decade learning how to learn, I wanted to share the best resources I found with the community.

r/learnpython • post
282 points • Pianoismyforte
Take the time to learn how to learn

When I was in high school, I never really challenged myself. Now this isn’t a bid to say “look at me, I’m smart”, because I wasn’t particularly smart. My parents had high standards, and I would work just hard enough to get grades that would keep them off my back.

The downstream effects of this were terrible. I was lazy in college, got grades “good enough” to stay in school, and my extracurricular activities consisted of playing way too many video games and occasionally drinking and partying with friends.

I found that I had started coasting in life: I was doing well enough to feed myself and put a roof over my head, but my guitar was collecting dust, my lack of financial planning was sabotaging my future, and my my scrawny frame and lack of self-care wasn’t turning any heads.

Cut forward a decade and I’ve been studying every productivity method under the sun for the gamified task/habit tracker I’m building. In other words, these days it is my job to learn, test and improve everything productivity. When I reflect on all I learned, I realized that I wish I had these resources when I was learning to program, so I thought I would share the best I've found with you:

  • First, learn how to learn. It turns out that learning is a skill itself; a skill that, when practiced, can make you more efficient at learning anything. Coursera has a fantastic class called “Learning How to Learn” that teaches how the brain learns efficiently, how to better remember what you learn, and how to avoid procrastination and “fake learning”.
  • Second, your mindset is essential. Being kind to yourself is imperative to your success. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to be kind to yourself, especially when you fail or fall off the bandwagon. The more you are mean to yourself, the more you build a habit of avoiding important things in your life. Here’s an example of how this works: when I would avoid working out, I would often think things like "I can't be disciplined enough to workout consistently, what's wrong with me?". Instead of those thoughts, I changed my narrative to "It's OK that I missed a workout, everyone skips a workout day sometimes. All that matters if that I will get better if I keep trying", or "It's alright that I'm not doing the optimal workout program, if I show up and workout that's great".
  • Third, add emotional journaling. This 3 minute activity had a huge impact on my mood and willingness to learn when I wanted to. All you do is sit, observe your feelings, and try and label them as accurately as possible. This works because it allows you to understand your emotions. When you understand your emotions, you can take more control over your life: instead of your emotions leading your actions, you can lead them. Pacifica is a great app that makes it easy to start and stick with emotional journaling.
  • Fourth, get a task/habit tracker. It’s hard to see just how much learning you accomplish day-to-day until you start tracking what you do. It is also hard to keep yourself focused when you carry everything you have to do in your head. But to make using a tracker really effective, you need to take the time to congratulate yourself for you successes.

A point about congratulating yourself on your successes: there are many ways to do this, and you should try multiple strategies until you find one that works for you. One strategy is to take a moment whenever you cross off an item and consider how hard you had to work to earn it. If you like video games another is to use a gamified task/habit tracker. I currently use the one I’m building because I love the feeling of getting rewards in a video game.

If you'd like to try it out, you can do so here.

Tl;dr: I've studied and testing tons of productivity methods. I wish I had the resources I have now when I needed to study, so I thought I'd share the best of them with you.

r/IWantToLearn • comment
70 points • Payanda

  • take the Coursera course on Learning to Learn by listening at double speed.

Apply what you learn there to new information.

https://www.coursera.org/learn/learning-how-to-learn/

r/AskReddit • comment
137 points • tswijk

How did you end up with the link to the French version?

https://www.coursera.org/learn/learning-how-to-learn

r/ADHD • post
130 points • glaneuse
Learning how to learn

I just found this great little course called "Learning How To Learn" and it's pretty useful! It shows how different learning processes look from a cognitive science perspective, using really accessible language and colourful analogies. I'm really enjoying it, thought I'd share!

Here's the short TED Talk: Learning How to Learn

And here's the [Expanded course on Coursera] (https://www.coursera.org/learn/learning-how-to-learn).

Topics covered:

  • Forming effective study habits
  • Why + how we procrastinate, why + how it's addictive
  • How to use different modes of the brain to solve different problems
  • How to absorb new information and retain old information

It talks about "training your brain" in a way I find really concrete and useful - I hate "self-help" stuff that's fruity and philosophical, and this is just the opposite. Hope this helps!

r/getdisciplined • comment
58 points • parapett

this course has been popular on coursera for some time "Learning how to learn" https://www.coursera.org/learn/learning-how-to-learn.

Looks like they are starting another enrollment today, you can watch the videos for free

r/GetStudying • post
51 points • vasiliypupkeen
Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects
r/GetStudying • post
201 points • meflou
I just finished the online Coursera course "Learning how to learn". I highly recommend it to everyone and I summarized everything I learned from it.

I originally wrote this guide in r/GetMotivated (link) and some people suggested that I should post it here. This is not a short post and you should take your time as you go through it.

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A quick background:

Since I wrote the post I received dozens of messages from teachers asking for permission to hand it to their students (of course you are welcome to do so), from students who identified as lifelong procrastinators and who were making the first step toward change, and in general from different people fighting against different kinds of mental setbacks.
The Coursera forum exploded with Redditors coming along to take the course after they saw the post. All this made me really happy to see that my very simple post might have had a positive impact on someone else's life. The instructor also emailed expressing her joy that the information was shared with a large audience.

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The questions I got the most: Do I have to pay for the course? Should I go for the certificate? Is it worth it?...

To which I honestly say: The certificate is not very important, what you learn is. The entire course material can be audited for free. However, if you took the course and thought it was useful, and you had some money to spare, paying for the course is the best way to show your appreciation to the amazing people who compiled all this information for us. Also, it is a fact that course completion rates increase dramatically when students pay.

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Alright so this was the post.


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>So I just finished the course https://www.coursera.org/learn/learning-how-to-learn and I can say that it has actually changed the way I perceive my studies. I strongly recommend it to anyone willing to put some efforts to change the way you learn.

>If you are like me, and you got tired of all the click-bait rubbish that surrounds the productivity articles and advices you will find on the internet, then this is the course for you, and it is the last course you need.

>Almost every single video of the course references a bunch of scientific papers. It is almost entirely based on scientific researches. It introduces you lightly to the concept of how the brain function, how memory works, why procrastination happens, and so many other related subjects that include practical tips on how to learn more efficiently.

> In addition to all the lectures, the course features a lot of interviews with highly prolific scientists and some notable people like Nelson Dellis, the four-time USA Memory Champion.

> Without further ado, here are all the notes I wrote down while taking the course, organized in a chronological order that follows the course structure.

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Week 1: What is Learning?


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Brain Facts:

  • Cells of the nervous system are called neurons. Information from one neuron flows to another neuron across a synapse. The human brain has a million billion synapses.

  • Your brain creates synapses whenever you learn something new. Sleeping helps "update" your brain cells. Literally.

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Why do we procrastinate (scientifically):

Problem:

Learning a new thing or doing something you would rather not do can be stressing. This can cause anxiety at first. This activates the area associated with pain in the brain.

Your brain looks for a way to stop that negative feeling by switching your attention to something else more pleasant.

Solution:

The trick is to just start. Researchers discovered that not long after people start actually working out what they didn’t like, that neuro-discomfort disappeared.

Remember that the better you get at something, the more enjoyable it can become.

Consider using the Pomodoro technique.

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Learning hard and abstract things:

The more abstract something is, the more important it is to practice to create and strengthen neural connections to bring the abstract ideas to reality for you.

Ex: You should practice a lot with the math vocabulary to understand it and recall it easier. [∫∞e^x dx, k!(n−k)!]

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Summary of what I learnt:

  1. There are two modes of thinking:

    1. Focused mode: Concentrating on things that are usually familiar.

    2. Diffused mode: A relaxed mode of thinking "your thoughts are free to wander".

  2. When you don’t desire doing/learning something, go through it and just start. The discomfort goes away and, in the long term, this will lead to satisfaction.

  3. When you learn something new, make sure to take the time to rest, then come back to it and recall what you learnt.

    1. This is very important. Don’t cram information in one day. This leads to inefficient learning. It’s like building a wall without letting it dry.

    2. Revisiting and practicing what you learn is important. Research shows that spaced repetition (repeating things after few days) is the best way to build and strengthen the synaptic connections.

  4. Sleep is very important. It clears the metabolic toxins from the brain after a day of "brain use". It is best to sleep directly after learning new things.

  5. It was shown that exercising and/or being in a rich social environment helps your brain produce new neurons. Don’t lock yourself in your room. Stay active and spare time for exercise (including general physical activities) and friends daily.

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Week 2: Chunking


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Chunks:

Pieces of information, neuroscientifically speaking, bond together through use and meaning. They can get bigger and more complex, but at the same time, they are single easy to access items that can fit into the slot of the working memory.

  • Chunking is the act of grouping concepts into compact packages of information that are easier for the mind to access.

  • Example: If you understand and practice a math formula. You no longer will need to focus much to solve it like you did the first time. That’s because your "formula chunk" got so abstracted into your brain that it can only take one slot of your working memory to solve it.

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Turn off distractions. You want to use all the four slots of your working memory when studying. Learning will be inefficient if some of those slots are connected to something else.

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You have to solve the problem yourself. Just because you see it, or even understand it, doesn't mean that you will be able to solve it (Illusion of competence). It is always easier to look at the material, even if you think it’s easy, then doing it yourself.

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It gets easier. When you think that a chapter or a book has too much information and that there’s no way to go through them all; just focus on whatever section you’re studying. You’ll find that once you put that first concept in your mental library, the following one will be easier.

This concept is called Transfer; a chunk you have mastered in one area can often help you much more easily learn other chunks of information in different areas.

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Master the major idea and then start getting deeper. However, make sure not to get stuck in some details before having a general idea. Practice to help yourself gain mastery and sense of the big picture context. Try taking a "picture walk" before you dig through the material, this means, look briefly at the pictures, chapter titles, formulas used… before diving into details.

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Recall mentally without looking at the material. This is proven more effective than to simply rereading. Reread only after you try to recall and write down what was in the material.

Consider recalling when you are in different places to become independent of the cues from any giving location. This will help you when taking a test in the class.

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Test yourself to make sure you are actually learning and not fooling yourself into learning. Mistakes are a good thing. They allow you to catch illusions of competence.

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Don’t always trust your initial intuition. Einstellung problem (a German word for Mindset). An idea or a neural pattern you developed might prevent a new better idea from being found. Sometimes your initial intuition on what you need to be doing is misleading.You’ve to unlearn old ideas and approaches as you are learning new ones.

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Mix up the problems (Interleaving) from different chapters. This is helpful to create connections between your chunks. It can make your learning a bit more difficult, but it helps you learn more deeply. Interleaving is very important. It is where you leave the world of practice and repetition, and begin thinking more independently.

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Don’ts:

  • Highlighting too much and creating maps are often ineffective without recalling.

  • Repeating something you already learnt or know very well is easy. It can bring the illusion of competence; that you’ve mastered the full material when you actually just know the easy stuff. Balance your studies and focus on the more difficult (deliberate practice). This sets the difference between a good student and a great student.

  • A big mistake is to blindly start working on an exercise without reading the textbook or attending the class. This is a recipe of sinking. It’s like randomly allowing a thought to pop off in the focus mode without paying attention to where the solution truly lies.

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Week 3: Procrastination and Memory


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Procrastination:

  • The routine, habitual responses your brain falls into when you try to do something hard or unpleasant. Focusing only on making the present moment feels better.

  • Unlike procrastination which is easy to fall into, Willpower is hard to come by. It uses a lot of neural resources and you shouldn’t waste it on fending off procrastination except when really necessary. You actually don’t need to.

  • The long-term effect of Procrastination can be dangerous. Putting your studies off leads to studying becoming even more painful. Procrastination is a habit that affects many areas of your life, if you improve in this area, many positive changes will unfold.

  • Procrastination shares features with addiction. At first, it leads you to think that if you study too early you’ll forget the material. Then, when the class is ahead of you, it leads you to think that you are inadequate or that the subject is too hard.

  • You want to avoid cramming which doesn’t build solid neural structures, by putting the same amount into your learning and spacing it over a long period by starting earlier.

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First time learning something:

  • The first time you do something the deluge of information coming at you would make the job seem almost impossibly difficult. But, once you've chunked it, it will be simple.

  • At first, it's really hard, later it's easy. It becomes like a habit. Ex: Driving for the first time.

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Habits:

  • Neuro-scientifically speaking, chunking is related to habit.

  • Habit is an energy saver. You don’t need to focus when performing different habitual tasks.

  • Habits can be good or bad, brief or long.

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Habits Parts:

  1. The cue: The trigger that launches you into zombie mode (habitual routine).

    1. Recognize what launches you in zombie procrastination mode:

      1. Location. Time. Feelings. Reaction to people or events…
    2. Consider shutting your phone/internet for brief periods of time to prevent most cues.

  2. The routine: Routine you do in reaction to the cue.

    1. You only need to use your willpower to change your reaction to the cues.

    2. Actively focus on rewiring your old habits.

      1. You need a plan. You need some willpower.
  3. The reward: Habits exist because they reward us.

    1. Give yourself bigger rewards for bigger achievements. But after you finish them.

      1. Ex: If I study for 4 hours today, I’ll watch a movie, guilt free, at night.
    2. Habits are powerful because they create neurological cravings. It helps to add a new reward if you want to overcome your previous cravings.

    3. Only once your brain starts expecting a reward will the important rewiring takes place that will allow you to create new habits.

  4. The belief: To change your habits, you need to change your underlying belief.

    1. Ex: You might feel like you’ll never be able to change the habit of studying late. This is not true. You can actually rewire your brain

    2. Joining a student community helps, either online or in real life.

    3. Trust your system. You have to feel happy and worry-free when you are resting.

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Weekly/Daily list:

  • Researchers showed that writing your daily list the evening before helps you accomplish them the next day. If you don’t write them down, they will take the valuable slots of memory.

  • Plan your finishing time, this is as important as planning your working time.

  • Work in the most important and most disliked task first, even if it’s only one Pomodoro.

  • Take notes about what works and what doesn’t.

  • Have a backup plan for when you will still procrastinate.

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Focus on Process:

You should realize that it’s perfectly normal to start a learning session with a negative feeling even if you like the subject. It’s how you handle those feelings that matters.

Solution: Focus on the process, not the product. The product is what triggers the pain that causes you to procrastinate. Instead of saying "I will solve this task today", put your best effort for a period of time continuously over the days.

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Memory:

  • Use your visual memory to remember things.

    • Ex: Link a memorable picture to a formula.
  • Images help you encapsulate a very hard to remember concept by tapping into visual areas with enhanced memory abilities.

  • The more neural hooks you can build by evoking the senses the easier it will be for you to recall the concept.

  • Keep repeating what you want to learn so that the metabolic toxins won’t suck away the neural patterns related to that memory. Spaced repetition is the key.

  • Flashcards help. Consider using Anki.

  • Handwriting helps you deeply convert what you are trying to learn into neural memory structures.

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Memory Techniques:

  • Create meaningful groups and abbreviations.

  • To remember numbers, associate them to memorable events.

  • Create mnemonic phrases from first letters of the words you want to remember.

  • Memory Palace Technique: Use a familiar place (like the blueprint of your house) and associate visual images of things you want to remember with physical places.

    • This is not easy. You’ll be very slow at first. But with practice, you’ll get better.

    • The more you practice your "memory muscle" the easier you’ll remember.

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Week 4: Renaissance Learning and Unlocking Your Potential


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You should know:

  • Exercising is by far more effective than any drug to help you learn better. It helps new neurons survive.

  • Learning doesn't always progress linearly and logically. Inevitably your brain will hit a knowledge-collapse sometimes. This usually means your brain is restructuring its understanding, building a more solid foundation.

  • You learn complex concepts by trying to make sense out of the information you perceive. Not by having someone else telling it to you.

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Metaphors

  • Metaphors and analogies are very helpful, not only to memorize, but to also understand different concepts.

  • It is often helpful to pretend that you are the concept you’re trying to understand.

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Intelligence:

  • Intelligence does matter. Being smart usually equate to having a large working memory (more than just four slots).

  • However, a super working memory can hold its thoughts so tightly that new thoughts won’t easily find a way into the brain. Such a tightly controlled attention could use an occasional breath of ADHD. You attention shifts even if you don’t want it to shift.

  • Deliberate practice is what helps the average brain lift into the realm of those naturally gifted. Practicing certain mental patterns deepens your mind.

  • Brilliant scientist like Ramón y Cajal, the father of neuroscience, or Charles Darwin, were not exceptionally gifted. The key to their success was perseverance, taking responsibility for their learning and changing their thoughts.

  • Take pride in the qualities you excel at. Tune people out if they try to demean your efforts.

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Right hemisphere:

  • Helps us put our work into the big picture perspective and does reality checks.

  • When you go through a homework or test questions and don’t go back to check your work, you’re acting like a person who’s refusing to use parts of his brain.

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Left hemisphere:

  • Interprets the world for us but with a tendency for rigidity, dogmatism, and egocentricity.

  • May lead to overconfidence. Ex: believing dismissively that your answers are corrects.

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Best practices:

  • Always step back and recheck to takes advantages of abilities of both-hemispheres interactions.

  • Brainstorm and find focused people to analyze your work with.

    • Your errors are sometimes easier to be found by others.

    • Explaining yourself to others helps you understand more.

    • Studying in a team helps you catch what you missed, or what you can’t see.

  • Don’t fool yourself. Don’t blindly believe in your intellectual abilities. Having a team can bring those projections down.

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Test Checklist:

  • Did you make a serious effort to understand the text? If you had a study guide, did you go through it?

  • Did you attempt to outline every homework problem solution?

  • Did you understand all your homework problems’ solutions? If not, did you ask for explanations?

  • Did you work with classmates on homework problems? checked your solutions?

  • Did you consult your instructor/teacher when you had a problem with something?

  • Did you sleep well the night before the test?

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Test Taking Technique: Hard Start - Jump to easy: (Try this strategy with homework problems first)

  1. Take a quick look at the test when it’s handed to you to get a sense of what it involves.

  2. Start with the hardest problem. Pull yourself out if you get stuck for over 2 minutes. Starting with a hard problem loads your focused mode first and then switches attention away from it. This allows the diffused mode to start its work.

  3. Turn next to an easy problem. Solves what you can, then move back to a hard one. This allows the different part of your brain to work simultaneously on different thoughts.

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Taking Test Tips:

  • Being Stressed before a test is normal. The body puts ups out chemicals when it’s under stress. How you interpret the body reaction to those chemicals makes all the difference.

    • Shift your thinking from "I am afraid of this test" to “I am excited to do my best”.
  • If you are stressed during a test, turn your attention to breathing. Relax, put your hand on your stomach and slowly draw some deep breaths. This will calm you down.

  • Relax your brain on the last day before a test. Have a quick final look at the materials. Feeling guilty the last day is a natural reaction even if you prepared well. So relax.

  • Good worry motivates you. Bad worry wastes your energy.

  • Double check your answers. Look away, shift your attention, and then recheck.

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This summary is also on Google Docs. Your contributions are welcome.