Learning is how we add dimension to our lives, acquiring skills and knowledge, in whatever way we chose to do it. When we learn something new, we may come away feeling accomplished, but the true test of our knowledge is how we then implement it

The key to effective learning is not necessarily about how quickly you digest the information, whether that's through reading, experience, study, or being taught, but how well you retain it, recall it, and utilise it. We’ve all heard of the phrase “every day’s a school day” and this couldn’t be more true in today’s society where digital technologies are changing in the blink of an eye and new opportunities are coming up like never before.

More and more, we’re seeing an increase in the importance of ‘upskilling’. This is when we learn additional skills to allow us to better progress, usually in the workplace. Upskilling is also important for our own personal development, as being able to continually learn and develop your skills is a surefire way to help you achieve your goals.

So, how can we really learn?

Effective learning is pretty much like ‘learning to learn’. In order to capture and process the information in a way we’ll remember in the future, we need to come up with ways of digesting what we’re taught in the first place. Often discussed in the context of schools, “effective learning” is defined as children actively participating in their own learning. Rather than copying what a teacher tells them, research suggests that pupils are more likely to learn better by talking, writing, and reflecting on their newly acquired knowledge.

These same principles can be applied to young people and adults looking to learn more effectively. There are many ways you can become a more effective learner – here are just a few:

1. Ask questions

We can’t be expected to learn if we’re unsure of the context in which we are being taught. Ask questions to understand what you are learning, and more importantly, why you are learning it. Consider applying it to your everyday life so you have something to relate it to and it will quickly become easy to remember.

2. Vary your learning style

Learning in different ways can be a really valuable way to consolidate information. For example, if you like audible learning (such as listening to a podcast), try creating a visual aid to sit alongside it. You could even try teaching it back to a friend or family member! Being able to repeat the information in a variety of ways will help in retaining it long-term.

3. Don’t multitask

Multitasking involves trying to do several things at one time. This can be disruptive, halt productivity and reduce concentration, making it harder to focus and meaning you are less likely to understand the information. Instead, try to focus all your attention on one task at a time. If this seems overwhelming, try the ‘distributed practice’ technique. This involves studying for short periods of time, for example, 50 minutes, and then taking a quick break, say, 10 minutes. This is one of the best ways to learn more effectively.

4. Test your knowledge

Testing your knowledge can be a good way to identify what you know and what you still need to spend more time on. It might seem like a better use of your time to spend every second studying, but research shows that taking tests is an equally effective way of helping you remember what you’ve learned. This way, you’re able to prioritise building your knowledge on areas you might be less confident in, rather than spending time repeatedly learning a subject you have already nailed!

5. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes

We all learn from them. Making mistakes is actually beneficial for learning outcomes. Rather than losing hope because you made a mistake, try to take corrective action. Consider what went wrong and seek feedback on how you can do better next time.

Learning with a coach

If you’re trying to learn more effectively, but feel as though you are still struggling to retain what you’re taught, you could benefit from seeing a life coach.

Coaches can help with a wide range of issues when it comes to learning and our development. Some people find it harder to learn than others. This might be due to having dyslexia or another learning difference, for example. Maybe you just haven't found methods that work for you yet.

Learning does not have to be a challenge. It can be fun and exciting and contribute to our development. Working with a coach to find ways you can learn more effectively can be really helpful in helping to achieve your goals, whether that's passing an exam or developing a new skill. Coaching will give you the confidence you need to focus on what you are capable of if you put your mind to it. After all, knowledge is power.

Ready to work with a coach? You can find a coach today on Life Coach Directory.