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16 Simple Ways to Learn More in Less Time

Learning does not end in the last year of the university – it’s a continuous lifetime process. A famous Italian Renaissance artist Michelangelo said “I am still learning” while being 87 years old.

Most people learn by reading books. According to “INC” the average CEO reads one book a week.

My clients, friends, and followers ask me:

  • Is there a way how I can read more in a shorter time?
  • How to find more time for books?
  • Where to get the inspiration to start learning?

My answer is yes to all three questions. To be honest, I faced the same problem – too many books, too much to read. Because of this I took ten different speed learning courses and extracted the golden nuggets.

In this article, I share the most effective and efficient techniques to improve your reading and learning skill. Don’t waste your time – read in a SMART way.

16 ways to multiply the number of books you read

Below I list vital facts that will help you increase your speed of learning.

1. Align Your Purpose with the Type of Books Your Read

It’s very easy to get distracted while reading the type of books you are not interested in.

Ask yourself – what is my purpose of reading at all?

Do I want to improve my finances? Understand more about the human mind? Improve my business processes? Improve my sales skill?

When your purpose is clear, you will find it inspiring to read the type of books that will support what you do at the moment.

After you clearly defined the purpose of your reading, check the introduction to the book – it will help you to decide whether the book is for you or not.

Focus on the right books. Read quality books – recommendations by credible teachers. There are many recommended articles you can find online.

For instance “Business Insider” article “15 books Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk think everyone should read.”

My personal favorite is Charles Munger’s reading list that you can find here “39 Book Recommendations From Billionaire Charlie Munger that Will Make You Smarter.”

2. Learn to Read Smart

A quick learning skill is also a smart learning skill. Learn how to read smart.

Start with a book A Syntopicon: An Index to The Great Ideas. This book covers 102 resourceful ideas of all times. In the end, Syntopicon would require over 400,000 man-hours of reading and cost over two million dollars if you buy every book that is summarized in Syntopicon. After reading this one, you will have an excellent summary of the structure of the world.

Also, most of nowadays self-help books are published because of the advertising purposes. Many of these books include 1 great idea that you will take away.

However, no publisher will ever publish one idea on a single page. That’s why some authors add a lot of fluff around, stories that support the content etc. So be smart when you read self-help books and extract that, which is most important.

You can finish this type of book in 10-15 minutes.

There is also a brilliant app Blinkist – they offer powerful 15 minutes summaries of more than 2000 books.

 

3. Plan your Reading and Set Intention

At the beginning of every month, set a conscious intention to the number of books you are going to read.

It is even better if you can specify what books you will read. Write down names.

In January, I wrote 16 books in my intention journal. I completed all 16 books.

Parkinson’s law states: work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. You will complete whatever number you set if it’s realistic.

Also, plan your reading time. When is the best time for you to read? Assign one slot in the morning (I do 45 minutes every morning). Then after lunch. Finally – in the evening.

Find the most efficient time for yourself through constant experiments.

You can include your reading time in your Morning Ritual.

If you struggle to start reading, I suggest you write 50 benefits how reading will impact your personal and professional life.

 

4. Use Shortcuts and Summaries of Books

It is one of my most favorite tips! Philosophy and personal development became a trendy topic. That’s why there is a number of people who help others by creating shortcuts.

You can find many different websites that offer summaries of the books. Save your time by reading reviews. Check out this article for “Top 20 websites, channels and apps have the best book summaries on the internet.”

My favorite is Philosophers Notes channel on Youtube. Brian Johnson educates his followers by creating summaries of books that he explains in 15 minutes or less.

He has a high number of summaries, so you can “read” his summaries when you exercise, walk or make food at home.

For example, one of my recommended books you can “read” in less than 20 minutes. While walking, or cooking, or exercising!

Thanks, Brian for saving time!

 

5. Start with Classic Books or Legends

For those who are about to start reading and don’t know where to start, here are my Top 10 favorite books that I would recommend you to read at least once in a lifetime:

  1. A Syntopicon: An Index to The Great Ideas
  2. Napoleon Hill – Think and Grow Rich
  3. Dr John Demartini – The Values Factor
  4. Dale Carnegie – How to Win Friends and Influence People
  5. Vishen Lakhiani – The Code of Extraordinary Mind
  6. Robert Cialdini – Persuasion
  7. Dr John Demartini – The Gratitude Effect
  8. Maxwell Maltz – Psycho-Cybernetics
  9. Tim Ferris – 4 Hour Workweek
  10. Will Durant – The Story of Civilization

And of course, among the top recommendation, I advise you to download my free e-book on stress management. It will be worth your time!

6. Use the “memory palace” technique

In an article on INC.com about 5 Super Efficient Ways to Learn More in Less Time one of the tips is to use a method called “memory palace” technique.

The technique dates back to the ancient Romans and Greeks and encourages students to link certain locations with specific items. For example, things like windows on a building are associated with names of presidents. You can liken it to having a filing cabinet in your head.

It really is important to not only read things but also to be able to understand and retain information in order to effectively learn it, and a method such as this which enhances one’s memory can definitely help with the process of learning.

7. Learn Fast while Teaching Others

So you may ask yourself, “How does this apply to reading books or learning faster?”

Well, when you learn something and then ‘gift’ that knowledge to someone else you almost seem to understand it and hold onto the information better.

For instance, if you read a really interesting article or story and you then meet someone and tell them about this information you have just received it almost becomes even more interesting or more informative as you are speaking the words.

Repetition in whichever form is a powerful learning tool and so re-telling something to someone is a definite way to learn something faster and with more clarity.

8. Leverage Your Skill Quickly by Learning on Online Platforms

A lot of people say that they cannot learn more or learn further because they cannot access accredited courses for various reasons.

What if you could get access to these courses for free or at hugely discounted rates? Well, you can if you do your research.

In a study, published by Harvard and MIT, researchers found that during the year of 2012-2016, EdX online study platform attracted over 2.4 million unique users who participated in one or more MITx or HarvardX open online courses. 245,000 learner certificates were issued upon completing a course.

This article, “200 universities just launched 600 free online courses. Here’s the full list“, is a definite must-read for you. It lists the participating universities, what they offer and more.

There are so many opportunities to learn every day. With the World Wide Web at our fingertips there really is no excuse not to gain as much knowledge as you possibly can; whenever, wherever!

9. Start Learning like a Champ

“We all have a good memory; the problem is no one taught us how to use it,” says four-time USA Memory Champion Nelson Dellis.

That’s quite a big statement to make but yet it is so true, we just need to tap into that potential, and here are some tips to help you along the way:

  1. Make it exciting – When something evokes joy and happiness it is definitely more likely to stick and be much more enjoyable learning.
  2. Link things – Imagine linking pictures in your mind which are relevant to what you are learning. It is almost like a narrative going through your brain of what you are learning. Again, far more interesting and fun and therefore easier to learn and retain.
  3. Get ready for information – Being wholly focused on one thing is not an easy task in this day and age where distraction is everywhere, but focusing on one thing and being ready to accept what you are about to read, hear, learn, will be a huge benefit when trying to learn more in less time.
  4. Daily Practice – No one can learn to do anything in just one day, so daily ‘training’ if you will, to learn and retain information and to do it quickly and efficiently will take daily practice. Nelson Dellis recommends various sites which can help with this; MemoCamp, MemRise, Art of Memory of which the latter Dellis is a co-founder.

Utilizing one or all of these tips is sure to help you become a champ at memorizing and learning more.

 

10. Use the Latest Speed Learning Technology and Apps

Technology is everywhere and ever evolving, so why not use an app to help you read and learn faster?

This Science Alert article “These Two Apps Can Help You Learn to Read Faster” speaks of the Award-Winning Speed Reading Bundle which can help optimize your reading skills by tripling your reading speed.

Some of the tools and techniques in this course will teach you how to comprehend what you read better, and better comprehension means better understanding and faster learning.

11. Learn by Taking Great Risks – and Never Be Afraid to Fail

You may have heard the story of one of the greatest inventors – Thomas Edison.

Edison’s teachers claimed he was “too stupid to learn anything.” <- it’s a significant proof that you should never listen to anyone’s judgment. The only acceptable critique – if it’s constructive and from a trusted and a credible person.

Nonetheless, Edison was fired from his first two jobs for being “non-productive.” His first employers seem forgot to add: non-productive in the area that he was completely not interested and disengaged.

As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. Here is what he said:

So, to say: take risks and don’t be afraid to FAIL. Thomas Edison is a brilliant example of what breakthrough you can achieve while learning from your own mistakes.

“Forbes” believes that that failure is inevitable for self-made millionaires. As long as you learn from your mistakes, you can take constructive steps to reach greater and greater levels of success. Here you can find 7 steps you need to take to learn from your own mistakes.

An information designer Anna.vc presented the risk-taking learning adventure in this infographic:

It’s impossible to not make a mistake. One day sooner or later you will.

Even the worst mistake will turn out positively. Most people pursue success and try to avoid the cruel learning path.

The higher the level you want to reach, the higher risks you will need to take. If you will be afraid to make a mistake – you will hold yourself back.

12. Figure Out your Learning Style

Studies have shown that we all have different learning styles. What are learning styles? Well, they are a group of common ways in which people learn. The infographic below shows the 7 Learning Styles 

The Seven Learning Styles

  • Visual (spatial): You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
  • Aural (auditory-musical): You prefer using sound and music.
  • Verbal (linguistic): You prefer using words, both in speech and writing.
  • Physical (kinesthetic): You prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch.
  • Logical (mathematical): You prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.
  • Social (interpersonal): You prefer to learn in groups or with other people.
  • Solitary (intrapersonal): You prefer to work alone and use self-study.

Our learning style will definitely determine the way we gain and how we can retain information.  When looking at speed learning, the more aware we are of our learning style the easier it will be to learn things quickly.

I always struggled to remember what my teacher said in lessons. Because of this issue, I started exploring the learning styles when I was 12 years old. I found out that my learning style is solitary visual – I prefer to study alone and remember visual information. I found out that aligning text with mental pictures is the best way to learn for me.

Do you know what your learning style is? If you go to the learning styles inventory you can take a test which will give you an idea of what style of learning will produce optimum results for you and allow you to learn fast and learn well.

13. Feed Your Learning Tool

Your brain, one of the most important parts of your body, and just like you eat good, fresh healthy food and exercise your body so to should you do the same for your brain, your learning tool.

Some good ways to boost brain power and inevitably your ability to learn more and learn faster is to fuel it with good, healthy, nutritious foods.

Think blueberries, for antioxidants, colourful vegetables, and oily fish. I would say the oily fish is the most beneficial because after all about 60% of our brain is made up of fat and needs to be nourished to keep it functioning at full throttle.

Guess what? Even though we talking mainly healthy fruits and veg, you can still have your chocolate and eat it too – as long as it is dark and at least 60% cocoa content.

So now, what about exercise? how do you exercise your brain?

Memory games, reading books, learning new things; whenever you do those things you are exercising your brain. You can also look to the wonderful World Wide Web and try brain training programs.

Something like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory and learn faster.

 

14. Find the Most Useful Knowledge Hacks

This article “Hacking Knowledge: 74 Tips on How to Learn Faster, Deeper, and Better” lists 74 very interesting ways to learn faster.

 

Some are a no-brainer and some seem fairly obvious, but some you will be amazed by and you will also find you are doing some of these things already not even realising how it is actually assisting you in your pursuit of gaining knowledge, speedily.

Below you will find 7 of the most interesting and possibly most effective hacks:

Take a Walk – A change of scenery is known to relieve tension which in return will give you a clearer mind and therefore you will be more productive. Even taking a hike somewhere quiet but beautiful could release some locked away ideas.

Listen to music – This is a great one, learn while listening to music. It is again stated that if you listen to music while learning something you are able to recall the information if you replay the song in your head. I don’t know about you but that sounds like a really great way to learn.

Use Task Flow MappingTask Flow Mapping is essentially you listing and organizing your thoughts or course of action for the day. The result of such action is that you are prepared to complete your tasks and in essence, “learn to learn”.

Binaural Beats – Probably one of the most interesting hacks in this list is using Binaural Beats. Essentially Binaural Beats are two frequencies played simultaneously to inspire anything from sleeping and restfulness to alertness and concentration. When combined with other exercises it can even stimulate “super learning abilities”.

Write It to Remember It – It would seem that a to-do list really is a good thing after all. Studies have shown that writing something down while learning actually improves your ability to retain that information and have a better understanding of what you are learning too.

Figure Out Why You Want Knowledge – This is a good one because when you know what it is you want to learn and why it is that you want to learn it you will have a clear end in sight, a goal, a vision and ultimately the motivation to learn quickly and efficiently.

What You Know versus What You Don’t – A lot of people put themselves down and say, “I’m dumb”, or “I don’t know how to do that”, but in actual fact, we as humans are often unaware of what we do know and what we don’t know. The key is to find out what you do know and what you do not know, then you fill in the gaps.

15. Learn Like an Entrepreneur

A study conducted by two Professors, John E. Young and Donald L. Sexton, endeavoured to explore the learning ways of an entrepreneur and ultimately whether this affected their business acumen and success in the long run.

Here are some of the points they discovered.

What Motivates Entrepreneurs to Learn? 

The findings were that the things that were the main reasons for entrepreneurs to learn were things that were unplanned.

So, in essence, they were almost forced into learning things via unexpected problems or obstacles within their business which needed attention and then also when they met with new business prospects or opportunities they then started learning new things almost by accident.

From here they then realised that actually learning proactively and because they wanted to make a big difference to their business and how they managed and ran their day to day dealings.

Now how would this translate for you? Well, the best way to look at it is to embrace the learning curve, embrace the need to learn which in turn will motivate you to learn more, learn faster, learn smarter.

Learning From Experience

In my opinion, I believe this is true for everyone, not just an entrepreneur. You can read and gain lots of knowledge for sure, but it is when you put things into practice that you truly begin to learn what it is all about.

A wonderful quote I found was this one from Anton Chekhov – “Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice”.

So take what you learn and apply it, this way you will also discover what actually works for you and what doesn’t.

Learn To Move with the Times

Things are forever changing, evolving, becoming better, so too are business practices, well at least they should so as to ensure keeping ahead of the pack.

In this regard, learning these new things will be beneficial to you and your business going forward.

It is never too late to start training your brain and what better way to train it than to make it think and learn like an entrepreneur or successful business person.

This video may also give some ideas on how to learn like an entrepreneur.

 

16. Rewire Your Brain

 

The school of thought that changes in our brain stop once it is mature are no longer valid.

In fact, scientists have now discovered that our brain continues to undergo changes throughout our lives. New cells grow and they make new connections with other cells. Some cells stop communicating.  Therefore a rewiring of the brain is necessary to keep our ‘learning tool’ strong and active.

The best way to do this? Practice. There that old adage, “Practice makes perfect” rears its head again, and has never been so true as it is now.

The more we practice something the better we become at it where eventually it becomes like a second nature. But this can also mean that the brain becomes lazy in a sense as it now works almost on autopilot, hence the need to continuously gain knowledge.

Read, read and read some more and then put into practice, as far as possible, what you have read.

 

Conclusion

Reading is an essential part of your personal development. However, the text in books doesn’t give any value unless it’s implemented into series of actions.

My honest advice – every time you read and get an idea, write it down and implement right away. The same notion tomorrow may not be as good as it seems today.

Today I gave you useful tips to improve your reading and learning skill.

Your knowledge is a valuable asset in today’s labor market. Read SMART, and you will ensure your competitive advantage.

Hope this helps.

Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Neo Ross

I am an experienced transformational leadership coach and professionally trained human behavior specialist with an international reputation for training leaders and organizations to improve business results with less stress. Over the last 7 years, I had a privilege to help achieve powerful results for more than 2 400 individuals from startup founders to CEOs, business owners, sales teams, celebrities, actors, influencers, and entrepreneurs globally.

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