Learning Faster by Slowing Down?

The more we learn, the more we can learn new things easily, but why? Thanks to the connections our brain can do!

The more experience we have, the more we can relate to. That’s why science vulgarization and comparison are important in the learning process. Let’s take a famous example.

To teach kids how to count, what do we do? We use things they understand like apples or tomatoes to associate them with numbers, this way kids can visualize what 2 + 2 means.

2 Tomatoes + 2 Tomatoes = 4 Tomatoes!

But to learn and teach new things, we have to be able to make more of this kinds of comparisons. To do this, we need to read, see, communicate with each other and, moreover make mistakes! By making mistakes we give us room to grow by correcting them.

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” Albert Einstein

But remember the first article, in this learning journey we have to deal with someone else, our “Lazy Ass”.

To deal with our Lazy Ass, we first need to understand exactly how to both modes of Thinking and their effects on memory. The “Diffuse” and “Focus” modes presented here.

How “Focus and Diffuse Thinking” modes work?

There is a big difference between these two types of thinking. To better understand them, we will compare our brain to a pinball machine.

Illustration from “Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects” by McMaster University & University of California San Diego

The red ball is our thought that comes in our pinball mind game. When we are focused on something we already mastered, the “thought ball” goes straight to the orange pattern known by our brain and we win the game !

But when we want to reach the green pattern, it’s harder because the blue bumpers that represent our concentration are tighter. Making it more difficult for the “thought ball” to get out of the known orange pattern.

For example, this is what happens when we are in front of a new exercise in mathematics. We get stuck because we can’t succeed to reach the new green pattern, this is our problem.

Here comes the diffuse thinking pinball game which lets us find the solution !

By being more “chill” (Funny but well chosen word) your concentration blue bumpers are more spaced, letting our thought ball reach new areas of our pinball mind game, giving us new ideas for mastering new patterns.

This is what happens while we walk and out of nowhere “EUREKA”.

Us solving the problem

Once we reach the green pattern, we can focus on it to strengthen the connections in our brain. Transforming this green pattern in an orange mastered pattern.

How to Master our Focus Mode to strengthen the connections in our brain?

When we combine some acquired skills together, we create “chucks” of informations more easily accessible in our brain.

We should know at least these 3 techniques to create “chucks”.

The “Pomodoro” technique aims to counter procrastination (pomodoro means tomato in Italian). This technique consists of working with focus for 25 minutes, followed with a break to “chill”. And we repeat this sequence over and over until the work is done.

The “Pomodoro” technique allows us go back and forth between the Focus and the Diffuse thinking mode.

25 minutes to go !

In order to maximize the “Pomodoro” technique, we must to avoid distractions during these 25 min.To do so, we need to add friction to our bad habits such as always looking our smartphone.

Adding friction is easy! We add steps to reach our phone. We put it in the pocket of a bag, placed in a closet away from our workplace instead of keeping it in our pocket. Brain 1 – 0 Lazy Ass.

The second method is the “Recall”, which aims to create a better long-term memory to master new patterns using habits!

To learn faster, we need to acknowledge that it takes time to master a new skill.

Reading this sentence, you might think it doesn’t make sense. What I mean is that to master something, we need to practice a lot. But the more time we spend mastering this new skill, the less effort it will take doing it, and the less time we will need to practice it.

For example, to learn the Ukulele, do you think is better spending 3 hours one evening a week or 30 minutes 6 nights a week ?

For sure, 6 x 30 minutes is better to let the information seep in your brain while we sleep. Moreover, since it’s only a 30 minutes habit per night, we have time to learn something more each night !

And the last technique is “Sleep”. You might be surprised to learn that just plain being awake creates toxic products in our brain. How does the brain get rid of these poisons?

It turns out that when we sleep, our brain cells shrink. This causes an increase in the space between our brain cells. It’s like unblocking a stream. Fluid can flow past these cells and wash the toxins out.

Moreover, while sleeping our brain still works and strengthens its connections. So little tip, if you want to learn faster, practice before going to bed. Doing this, you increase your chance of dreaming about it, making it easier to learn while sleeping.

You can learn more you can click on this course:

Finally, for a better overall experience follow the golden rule: have a great bed.

The golden rule

Now that we have the basic principles of learning, we will explore the universe of new of technologies and share new ideas in the following articles.

“Technology is best when it brings people together.” Matt Mullenweg creator of WordPress

Hi everyone! I’m a french Freelance Product Manager, I share useful stories, researches and Tips 👨‍💻 alexandretrigui.com