It's essential to learn new skills quickly in today's information economy. Today, you are what you know. If you want to progress forwards in life, you need to learn new skills.
But most adults reset learning. When was the last time you learned something significant in your life? Like a new language? New software? When did you last learn to play a musical instrument? A new sport? Most people do not learn because they fear it's difficult.
Is that you?
Learning need not be that way. Here are five strategies that will help you pick up a new topic faster than ever before.
Repeat something new over and over and you'll develop 'muscle memory' that will help you memorize a new subject. Whatever is a particular set of words or phrases in a foreign language, or cooking a recipe, the secret is to repeat the task over and over several times until it's stuck in your memory.
I recently needed to learn a new programming language for a project I was involved with. The fastest way for me to learn the new language, was to sit down at my computer at the start of the weekend and, write lots of new software, over and over. I spent the whole weekend working in the new language, writing the same software many times. By the end of the weekend, I was confidently fluent in the new language.
3. Listen to music
Playing music in the background is a great way to concentrate on learning. Find songs that boost your mood and help you focus. Mozart is supposedly to temporarily increase your intelligence when you're listening to it. Brian Eno's Music for Airports is another popular album.
Associating new subjects with ones you know is a great way of learning. The most popular application is the use of mnemonics. Find a word or phrase and associate each letter (or initial letter of that word) with the topic you're learning.
For example, the first letters of Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vein spells out the colors of the rainbow in order: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet.
Google 'mnemonics' and you'll find plenty of websites listing mnemonics for a huge range of subjects.
5. Think in pictures
Everyone's mind works in pictures. It's much easier to remember something when you visualize it, rather than trying to remember an abstract word or concept. For example, what is the color of your front door? I bet you had to recall a picture of your front door before you could answer the question. Memorize concepts in pictures and you'll be able to recall them much faster. The more unusual the image, the easier it is to remember.
Here's how. The Spanish word for hair is Pelo, pronounced "pay-lo". It sounds like the English word Halo. So to memorize that Spanish, I think of a bald man with a glowing, hairy halo floating above his head!
I do not speak Spanish. I learn that particular example about five years ago and have never forgotten it since!
6. Watch video tutorials
It's easy to learn from other people, and one of the best ways to do this is by finding how to videos and tutorials. Learning a new piece of software becomes a piece of cake when you can sit in front of your computer, be talked through the process, see exactly what's on their screen as they talk, and then repeat the actions yourself.
You can do the same for playing a musical instrument, learning a foreign language, drawing, making things, learn new concepts, and more. Have a search around, you'll find hundreds of examples online.