How do I create an interest in learning new things?

Make it personal and turn it into a habit.

Start with the basics: figure out your why, narrow down your what, create a ritual around the where and when, and master your how.

Ask your WHY.

Find out what is your purpose and goal to learn a new thing. When you make this connection, you’re more likely to stay motivated to keep learning. Why is that important? Because you should always make sure you’re learning something because you want to, and not because someone else thinks it is important. It is your personal development you should be focused on, not the development of anyone else. To narrow down your why, ask yourself the following:

  • Why is learning about this topic important to me?
  • Is this something I was interested in even when I was young?
  • Am I looking to become an expert in a certain field?
  • Do I want to use this knowledge to better my education or career?
  • Am I looking to develop a skill I will need to live a higher quality of life?

Narrow down the WHAT.

When you find out your why, narrow down what you’re learning. Make sure you identify one field, area, or subject matter so that your learning becomes more focused and targeted. Why is this relevant in the long run? Because you don’t run the risk of getting distracted and also demotivated because you want to achieve too much at the same time. This doesn’t mean you can’t learn more new things; it just means you should target one area at a time so that your habit of learning is easier to grow.

Create a ritual around the WHERE and WHEN.

Don’t wait for nighttime to begin learning something entirely new. If your goal is to absorb new information more effectively, especially if that information is dense, unfamiliar, and includes concepts that will require your analytical mind to take over, read the new material early in the day.

  • Why is it important to learn new things early? Because that’s when your analytical brain is more likely to perform the most complex tasks (in the case of learning new things, these tasks can be reading, comprehension, application, repetition).
  • When should you study? Your brain’s peak performance time is around 2-4 hours after you wake up. So, for example, if you wake up at 6, your peak times for review are between 8 and 10 a.m. To maximize your focus time, extend studying until midday to cover the most important concepts by lunchtime.
  • Where should you study? Create a peaceful and calm space to sit and work undisturbed. It could be your bedroom or a quiet corner at home. But if you live in a noisy environment, you might need to get creative. Try investing in a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones to block out noise, or get a pair of soft silicone ear plugs like these so that you can study in silence. Music can help you improve your focus: it can be classical music (Mozart, Chopin, Bach), a playlist of chillout tunes, or sounds of nature.

Master your HOW.

Now that you’ve dedicated the time and space to learn something new, think how you can best optimize the time to get the most out of your learning experience. If you think that you should be sitting in one place reading for hours, that’s the wrong approach. Why? Because you’re more likely to lose focus and your motivation, not to mention you’ll get tired fast. Here’s how to study better:

  • Use a timer to divide up your study sessions into 30–60 minute increments that will allow your brain to focus in a more targeted and effective way. If you don’t have a lot of time, though, try the Pomodoro technique: study only in 25 minute increments, with a 5 minute break.
  • When you’ve completed one study session, get up and do something completely unrelated to work to give your brain a chance to rest. The benefit? You take advantage of the Zeigarnik effect: it’s a concept developed in psychology that suggests that students who take breaks during which they perform unrelated activities (studying other unrelated subjects, reading a book, working out or performing other physical activities, for example) will remember material better than students who go through longer study sessions without taking a break. So go ahead: get some fresh air, make yourself a sandwich, write a short list of other things you need to do later in the day, make yourself a cup of coffee or tea.

 

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