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The Secret To Learning A New Skill Faster Even If You’re Busy

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Too often in life, time gets in the way. How many times have we told ourselves, “I’m too busy to learn X…” or “I don’t have enough time to do X…”

We get it, it’s easier said than done. But if we want to upgrade our life and advance our career, continuous learning is a vital ingredient in the process. Luckily, there are science-backed strategies and tactics we can use to fit learning a new skill into our busy lifestyles.

Here are the top 3 proven ways to get started:

1. Figure out why you quit learning in the past

If there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that history tends to repeat itself, unless we do something about it. If you’ve ever quit learning or doing something in the past (which most of us have), try to recall the core reason(s) why you stopped.

For example, when it comes to learning a new language, the two biggest reasons why most people never reach fluency is:

  • Lack of time (i.e. commuting, length of language classes, busy schedule)
  • Lack of accountability/motivation (i.e. learning alone, wrong method, no feedback)

By understanding why you quit in the past, you can take actionable measures to ensure you’re setting yourself up for success. If commuting was the problem, you can explore learning a new skill online instead of going to classes. If lack of accountability was the issue, you can find an accountability partner or hire a coach/mentor to help you out.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” –Albert Einstein

2. Learn everyday by doing

There’s two strategies here: breaking down your practice into daily actions and learning through immersion.

According to bestselling author, Malcolm Gladwell, “it takes a minimum of 10,000 hours to master a skill.” While you may not be looking to become world-class at the skill you’re learning, the point of this rule is that it’s a marathon.

It’s easy to burn yourself out if you force yourself to learn more than what your brain has capacity to handle. The more sustainable approach that has been proven is to break down your learning activity into a daily routine, where you can spend as little as 15-30 minutes practicing.

More importantly, we should focus on learning through immersion. A study from the National Training Laboratories Institute shows that:

  • 5% of what they learn when they’ve learned from a lecture (i.e. university/college lectures)
  • 10% of what they learn when they’ve learned from reading (i.e. books, articles)
  • 20% of what they learn from audio-visual (i.e. apps, videos)
  • 30% of what they learn when they see a demonstration
  • 50% of what they learn when engaged in a group discussion.
  • 75% of what they learn when they practice what they learned.
  • 90% of what they learn when they use immediately (or teach others)

 

Image Credit |National Training Laboratories Institute

This means that if you want to learn a foreign language, you should focus on practicing with native speakers. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, offer to speak for free at as many local events as possible.

 

3. Seek professional feedback

When it comes to learning a new skill, there’s rarely a need to reinvent the wheel. No matter what skill you want to acquire, someone else has already learnt it.

All you have to do is model the people who have come before you, and you can avoid the dangerous mistakes that could have cost you years of time to learn the hard way.

In life & business, most of us are comfortable with sticking with “what we know” and “what we know, we don’t know.” But there’s an entire spectrum of the pie that we miss.

It’s the most impactful knowledge we have yet to learn, but it could also be the most dangerous if we choose to ignore it. That’s “what we don’t know, we don’t know.” And this is where mentors or coaches come in, who are there to identify our blind spots and provide us with immediate feedback that is invaluable.

 

Image Credit |Introhive

The world’s top performers have gotten to where they are by having a coach or mentor to guide them along the way, and your approach to learning a skill should be no different.

How will you get started to learn a new skill? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!
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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. amgy

    Jun 1, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    The valuable lesson presented in the form of graphics are highly appreciable.Heartly thanks for sharing these knowledgeable things with us .

  2. Stefanie

    May 10, 2016 at 7:36 am

    Good points. I stopped learning Chinese some years ago, because I focused on developing my business. And that’s okay for me right now, as I notice that I don’t want to spend energy there. I find it important to be very clear on why you want to learn a new skill, how badly you want it, and how you’re going to use it. Loved the graphic about the learning pyramid!
    For learning and developing skills in public speaking and finances, I go to the Toastmasters, and I lead a CashFlow Club. This is a really great way to learn, as it’s continuous and interactive. For personal development, I’m more into reading and listening here on this site, and sharing it with others.

  3. Tim Denning

    May 5, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    This article Shaun really resonated because I am trying to learn a new skill right now – public speaking. It’s funny how much we actually don’t know…lol

  4. Rayon Whittaker

    May 5, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    Sean,

    I totally agree with Jim’s comment. The information and the graphical representations really made the point valid. It didn’t have to be a long article as it hit the nail right on the head. I wasn’t aware of the learning pyramid so it’s a blessing to have read this post.

    Thank You!

    RAYON WHITTAKER.

  5. Jim LaValley

    May 5, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    Sean,

    I love both info graphics! Well written article on a subject that I find extremely important. I am a big believer in ‘teaching to learn.’

    JIM

  6. Nathalie Maneiro

    May 5, 2016 at 11:14 am

    Hola! My english level it isn’t good but this article touched something ínside me. I will try to understand it very well because i am sure that things needs to change.By tbe way I can speak very good spanish.?

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