The Best Strategies for Learning New Skills Fast
The ability to learn new skills is one of the most desirable attributes that recruiters look for in candidates. The why is obvious—it’s the how that trips us up. How can candidates develop this practice (learning skills is a skill unto itself!) and apply it in business settings?
To answer that, we’ve collected our top strategies for learning new skills that any candidate can use.
Remember the Pareto Principle
Developed by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, this principle is more commonly known as the “80/20” rule: 20 percent of a system’s inputs produce 80 percent of the results. This concept applies to all areas of business but is particularly relevant for learning new skills.
When trying to learn, focus on the ideas and methods that will produce the best ROI for your time. Are you a visual learner? Try using flashcards. Are you auditory? Podcasts may be a better use of your time. The idea is to do your research and focus your efforts to produce the best results with the least amount of effort.
Most of us like to think of ourselves as effective multitaskers, but in truth, we’re not as good at it as we think. Research conducted by Stanford found that doing multiple tasks at once is far less productive than doing them one at a time—and the better we think we are at multitasking, the less productive we actually are.
If you’re trying to take in new information, focus on one thing at a time. Turn off your phone, email alerts, and desktop notifications. The more attention you give to each specific task, the better your overall retention will be.
Write Notes By Hand
Yep, according to research by Princeton and UCLA, you’ll learn better by ditching your laptop and taking hand-written notes on paper. The researchers found that when we type, we tend to transcribe lectures verbatim. But when we take notes, we process and reframe the information in our own words as we write. Their findings showed that students who took hand-written notes were better at answering conceptual questions than their digital counterparts.
Set SMART Goals
The best way to learn is to be specific in your goals and disciplined in your practice. To that end, you can improve your long-term learning by creating SMART goals for yourself:
“Learn a new language this year” is a poor goal.
“Learn 30 new vocabulary words each month for the next 3 months” is better.
You’ve likely heard of SMART goals in the past, so we won’t dwell too much on it. Just remember that the more specific and concrete you make each goal, the more likely it is you’ll succeed.
Pure Repetition Is Your Friend
Repetition is the crux of all learning. Don’t practice until you get it right—practice until you can’t get it wrong. Enough said.
Teach Someone Else
Teaching somebody else is a fantastic way to reinforce new concepts in your head. Every time we explain a concept to someone, we reinforce the ideas in our own minds and improve our own understanding and recall. Plus, if you’re able to take a concept, explain it in your own words and bring a complete newbie up to speed, you can rest assured that you understand the concept well.
These basic strategies will push your learning capabilities to the next level—your next step is to take what you’ve learned and apply the principles for the benefit of your business. If you’re interested in learning more about applying these learning strategies to your operation, contact Urgenci for a business assessment!