Before my practicalpremed days I used to be an almost fanatical gym rat. My gym trips would consume hours at a time and whenever I was out of the gym, I bet you could find me devouring books, magazines, or fitness blogs for new workout methods. I would make workouts for a group of friends and we’d head to the gym and carry out these odd-looking workouts. We’d always get funny looks, but the thing was that these regimens produced results. My friends hailed it as BBR (body by Ryan). While I’m not here to inflate my already large ego, I am here to point out that a key principle I applied to workouts efficiency can be applied to study routines.
Complacency with a workout routine leads to a steady decline in efficiency over time. The body has a funny tendency of adapting to workouts over time in order to minimize the muscle building efficiency. In the same way, carrying out the same study routine again and again will lead to a pretty ineffective way of actually learning. Let’s face it, studying the same way, in the same environment, with the same people will lead to a steady decline in focus as time progresses. If you did the same workout again and again of course it would be a pretty terrible way of exercising, but somehow a large number of students have at most one or two studying routines. I’ve written earlier about how spatial separation did wonders for my focus (and gpa). The underlying reason for this increase in focus was that I broke my terribly inefficient studying habits/routine. The human mind is inclined to take the path of least resistance and the same study routine repeated 100′s of times will be nowhere as great as it was the 4th or 5th time.
Why You Should Learn in Weird Ways
Expose your learning to an uncomfortable environment. Understanding new concepts and ideas is a complex process that involves active stimulation of the brain. If you find yourself having a particularly hard time memorizing or conceptualizing a topic maybe you should focus on how you are learning rather than what you learning. Do you find yourself glossing over reading material without actually taking things in? Make the material into flash-cards. Unable to focus on online notes? Print out the file, shut of your computer, and read the notes in a park. Can’t grasp a new concept? Try lecturing the concept out loud in a logical manner with coherent sentences. I’ll be honest with you, people are going to question what you are doing because the default way of learning is confined to the walls of the library or attached to your desk while reading material over again and again. It may seem weird to actively learn in new ways, but what seems weird to me is anybody’s willingness to spend all day at the library and bemoan why they didn’t do well on the test.
Escape your routine, hack your learning, and break out of your productivity rut.
Do you have any “weird” ways of learning? Let me know in the comments!