So much to learn...so much information...so little time! Information has never been more accessible. Learning has never been so easy. BUT...there is so MUCH information out there. We are besieged by learning opportunities...awash in a sea of data, facts, and details assaulting our senses and leading to learning frustration rather than learning fulfillment. Try these tips, tools, and techniques to make the most of learning.
1. Examine Your Information Diet As You Would Examine Your Nutritional Habits.
Establish categories of information needs/interests based on the various roles in your life...professional information needs, personal informational needs, and just-for-the-fun-of-it information needs.
2. Inventory Your Current Information Sources.
Make a list of the television shows you watch on a regular basis, the books you read, the newspapers and magazines you subscribe to or purchase, the radio stations or tapes you listen to during drive time, the seminars you attend, the people who supply information to you in your daily life. Match these sources to the categories of information needs you established. Which of the information sources best meets your professional, personal and recreational information needs? Increase and improve these sources.
3. Determine Your Preferred Method Of Learning.
Are you visual, auditory, or sensory in your information processing? Visuals usually learn best by reading a book, magazine or periodical. Auditory people learn best by listening to tapes and attending teleclasses. Sensory people need person to person interaction to learn. Maybe you are a combination of two of these information styles.... or lucky you...maybe you enjoy and benefit from almost any learning experience. It is important: however, to recognize your best information processing style so that when you need to learn something quickly you can seek out the information in your preferred learning style.
4. Keep An Ongoing List Of Terms You Don't Understand And Subjects You Would Like/Need To Learn More About.
Make it a point to learn the meaning of new terms weekly and use them as often as possible. Seek out those who are experts in subject interest areas and ask them a lot of questions...questions that cannot be answered with yes or no!
5. Let Go Of The Perception That Classes Must Take Place In Brick And Mortar Institutions During the Day With Homework At Night.
Explore diverse, leading edge learning avenues. Check out the classes offered by websites such as teleclass.com and teleu.com. Teleclasses are offered over a telephone "bridge" accomodating 30-150 people. You sit at your own kitchen table in your jammies, if you wish, with a cup of tea or a glass of vino, and learn from leading experts in a wide variety of fields while interacting with other lifelong learners from all over the world! Look into on-line learning and increase your on-line learning effectiveness by bookmarking websites that meet your learning needs and offer the most return for your time.
6. Take Advantage Of "Wait-Time Learning."
We all spend a great deal of time waiting...in the grocery line, at the doctor's or dentist's office, in ticket lines, and in traffic jams. Grab a magazine off the rack while you are waiting in the grocery line and scan it for items of interest. Maintain a ready supply of audio tapes in the car to take advantage of drive time. Always have reading material in your handbag or briefcase. Wait-time learning can meet your recreational, professional, or personal information needs and turn this otherwise down time into productive learning time.
7. Improve Learning Skills By Improving Listening Skills.
Don't assume because you pop an audio tape in the car during drive time or attend a lecture on a topic of interest that you are learning. There are a lot of distractions out there and the mind has a tendency to wander easily. Encourage a positive learning environment by consciously eliminating as many distractions as possible. Take notes. Ask questions. Later a good test of your understanding is to try to explain what you just learned or read to your mother or to a ten year old.
8. Avoid The Tendency to "pretend to know."
Never nod your head in understanding when you don't really understand at all. Practice saying, "Please clarify that for me" and "I'm not really sure I understand what you are saying."
9. Pick A Successful Person And Learn Everything You Can About Them Personally and Professionally.
Think about how much you could learn if you could spend 30 minutes a day with Barbara Walters, Sam Walton, Bill Gates, Ted Turner, one of our former Presidents or State Leaders. You can. Through their biographies or autobiographies, you can learn what made them successful and you can profit by their trial and error rather your own. Commit yourself to the 30/10 Rule for 30 days. Spend 30 minutes each and every day learning something new from a Master Of Success and then spend another 10 minutes deciding how to apply what you learned to your own life.
10. Use It Or Lose It!
Research shows that we forget 25% of what we hear in 24 hours, 50% in 48 hours, and by the end of 30 days we are down to less than 5% information retention unless we USE what we learn. Relate new ideas and information to something you already know and use. When you find a connection to link and USE new information on a regular basis, productivity and retention increase.
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