How to learn new things?

I am very glad I am living in an era of internet and knowledge available at the tip of my fingers. Many of my everyday simple decisions are being taken by phrases like “Hey Alexa! What is … Can I …? ” or “Hey Google! What is … and Can I…?”. We like the luxury of the technology helping us make live life better.

With all the technology available today and information overloaded into tweets, videos and blog posts, I find extreme difficulty in remembering all the information I read, learn something deeply and apply it very well. It appears learning something profoundly requires two broad methodology. These methodologies are not ground-breaking. They are simple, effective and very easy to follow.

Repetition and teaching are two different ways our brain can complete absorb new concepts and imbibe them. There are variety of repetition concepts like recall and spaced repetition.

Recall is when you read something or watch something and immediately close the activity and try to recall what you saw/read and summarize it in head. This helps you to synthesize the content and weed out all the extra details you do not want and store it for later.

Spaced Repetition is a way of recalling the content in much longer time period. There are various research that recommends the frequency of repetition and interval in which you must try to recall to remember the content.

Although recall and spaced repetition are very helpful learning concept, they help you remember things and sometime even cram stuff without understanding the real details and thinking through all the details.

The most powerful way to learn things is to teach someone the concepts or ideas you have learnt. This does not have to be in classroom setting. You can casually discuss things you learnt with your friend who are smart and good at playing devil’s advocate. Discussion of this sort will challenge all the assumptions you implicitly made when you learnt the new concept and will get you back to square one every time someone asks a question you cannot answer with your current understanding. I strongly recommend this approach if you are to truly master something. This way of learning hardly requires you to memorize anything since this requires you to deconstruct everything about the concept and put it back all together with first principle.