Posts tagged Learning
Level Up Your Process to Learn Better, Faster (Learning Overview Part 1)

Over the past few months, I’ve put some time into improving how I learn, and I’d like to share some of that in a series on “metalearning” (learning how to learn). While there are many things I want to cover, from mental models to specific tools, the underlying logic will be to look at learning as a process. Taking a process focus has several benefits - let’s walk through some of the biggest to kick off this series.

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Some of the Things I Learned in 2017

One of the most important habits I have been building over the past couple years has been to be more deliberate in my reflection. So I wanted to close out this year with an inventory of what I’ve learned, both to solidify it and to figure out where I might spend my efforts next year. To figure out how to structure such a list, I turned to my daily practice modeled on the one suggested by James Altucher, but with a few additions. These are the areas of my life I have defined as important enough that I need to learn and grow in them every day, so it makes sense to reflect on them here at year end. This list is certainly not exhaustive, but hopefully captures some of the most important lessons.

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An Expanded Definition of Reading

We tend to think of “reading” as the time we have a book in front of our face, but when you stop to ask why you are reading, a number of other activities suggest themselves as part of the bigger enterprise. If you are reading to learn, simply passing your eyes over the words will only get you a fraction of what’s there. I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how to make reading as effective as possible, and below I share my current thinking.

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Learning Through Storytelling

Stories are not only a great way to communicate information, they are also a powerful tool for learning it. People remember information better when it comes in the form of a story. In fact, we are so good at putting stuff together into stories that we often get things wrong with it. Fortunately, you can take advantage of our natural tendencies to learn better. Besides making your process more fun, there are three main ways stories can help you learn: forcing careful thought, assisting recall, and providing deliberate practice.

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Journaling as Thinking

Journaling doesn’t just mean recording your life for when you become super famous, you can accomplish a lot of different things by journaling. Sure, you absolutely can create a record for yourself and your family (and future biographers). You might instead want to get the neurotic and depressed thoughts out of your head and onto paper so that you can get on with business. Or perhaps you want to reinforce habits, like being grateful or generating ideas. These are great things to do, and I regularly practice all of them, but today I want to focus on journaling to understand and internalize complex material. In other words, using journaling as a tool for thinking and learning. For these purposes, journaling helps in three main ways: improving recall, figuring stuff out, and improving your chances of making connections.

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What I Learned at Forefront 2017

Last weekend I attended a conference called Forefront in Chicago, and I had a great time. I met a ton of great people and learned a lot. So, I wanted to record what I learned here, both so that I could keep it fresh, and also to share some of the great material with a wider audience. I learned how great it is to connect with people that are weird the same way you are, how to be happier, how better to hold myself and my clients accountable, and the value of belonging to a supportive community when trying to accomplish anything challenging. If anything I mention below sparks an interest, please follow some of the links and learn more about it, or even better, reach out so we can discuss. 

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Depth Before Breadth - Why You Should Learn One Thing at a Time

Many of us have a hard time limiting our effort to one field at a time - there’s so much interesting stuff out there and it’s more available than ever. All of this stuff can lure us into paying hidden costs when we try to learn everything all at once - costs that prevent us from getting the benefits breadth is supposed to bring. On the other hand, if you pursue depth, while you will only focus on one field at a time before moving onto the next, you will get much more out of each field, with a more robust breadth down the road. 

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The 70/20/10 Model for Skill Development

If you spend any time around corporate learning and development types, you will likely run into the “70/20/10 Rule”. Today we’re going to talk about what it is and what it isn’t, some important cautions in making use of it, why it can be a useful heuristic, and what each component of the ratio is and how it applies to learning valuable skills. If you’re not familiar, I hope you find it a new and useful tool, and if you are, I hope to shed some new light on the subject.

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