How to Learn Way Faster Using Learning Loops

Today, we’re going to discuss how to learn faster using learning loops


Choose something that matters.


Start by picking a field of study that you’re genuinely interested and emotionally invested in. Make sure to pick a topic that you actually feel matters and you believe the world will benefit from having someone learn. This makes a huge difference in how fast you learn any given subject, and it will help you persevere through times of failure which are inevitable. You can learn faster using this technique in fields that you’re not interested in, but having an emotional investment on your side makes a huge difference in how fast you learn [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. 


Integrate the new with the old.


Learning best occurs when we integrate new information with old information [1, 2, 4]. It’s important to take new concepts that you learn and relate it to other things that you already know and value. I want you to start by writing down the reason you determined this area of study was important in Step 1, and draw a big rectangle around it. This rectangle contains what you already know and value about the subject. But, even more than that, it will serve as a constant reminder and motivator of what you’re striving towards. 

For example, writing is a way to transfer knowledge to others. Knowledge leads to learning and learning to a change in behaviour. When you change someone’s behaviour, you can change the world. I want to learn to write so I can educate, change minds, and, ultimately, change the world. 


Construct an actionable checklist.


Take the rectangle that you already drew, and connect it to a new rectangle that contains the skill that you want to learn. Now, determine all of the sub-skills that make up that one. For example, let’s say we wanted to learn how to write an interesting book. The sub-skills may include character design, themes, locations, major events, writing style, organization, sentence structure, grammar, and so on. There are often multiple ways you can break down a skill. Break them down in the way that makes the most sense to you, and break each skill down as far as you can. 

In Step 2, you built up the skill to its unique meaning in your own life. That step grounded the skill in a strong motivation. In Step 3, you broke the subject down to its smallest pieces. This makes the topic more approachable. Now, take these sub-skills and create actionable checklists that help you master them. For example, you can have a checklist that helps you run through your story and make sure that your grammar is good. 


Make a prediction using your checklists. 


As soon as you have a semi-functioning checklist, make a prediction with it and test it. For example, “this checklist will help me produce a good short story.” 


Test your prediction and get feedback. 


There are various forms of testing your prediction such as using The Feynman Technique, as mentioned in a previous video, which you can watch by clicking the card in the top right of your screen. You can write a practice test. You can try and sell a product as part of your business, or you can gauge metrics on social media. If you want to learn how to write well, try writing a short story using your checklist and publish it in public, or give it to one of your friends to read. Check if the predicted outcome, according to your checklist, matched the actual outcome. If not, you have some work to do. 


Refine your checklist and try again.


If you picked a topic that you were actually interested in, you will be invested in the outcomes that arise from your checklist. The feedback will actually mean something to you and that is what will motivate you to refine it, fill in missing gaps of knowledge, learn faster, more efficiently, and more effectively. As your checklist becomes more refined, you will be able to integrate new knowledge in it faster and faster, and it will become more powerful at producing your intended outcomes. Try to get feedback that is as specific as possible, so you know what changes need to be made to your checklist. 


Conclusion


These steps form a learning loop. Pick a topic that really matters to you. Construct a checklist around that topic that is designed to produce results. Make a prediction based on your checklist. Test that prediction by doing something or creating something, and get specific feedback that helps you update your checklist. Rinse and repeat. 

You want to test your checklist as often as possible and in as many various situations as you can to really strengthen your understanding of the topic. An example would be to solve as many different practice questions as you can in preparation for an exam. 

But, even more than that, you want to subject your list to failure as often as you can. As you refine your list after each failure, it will grow more robust and be more useful. In fact, the more times you run through this learning loop, the faster you’ll learn, and the better your list will get.

If you want to check out some more learning tips, be sure to check out my productivity and learning playlist by clicking the card in the top right of the video



Sources

1. Ambrose, Susan A., et al. How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching. Jossey-Bass, 2010.

2. Brown, Peter C., et al. Make It Stick: the Science of Successful Learning. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2014.

3. Panksepp, Jaak, and Lucy Biven. The Archaeology of Mind: Neuroevolutionary Origins of Human Emotion. W. W. Norton & Company, 2012.

4. Kandel, Eric R, et al. Principles of Neural Science. The McGraw-Hill Company, 2013.

5. Tyng, Chai M et al. “The Influences of Emotion on Learning and Memory” Frontiers in psychology vol. 8 1454. 24 Aug. 2017, doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01454

6. Yonelinas, Andrew P and Maureen Ritchey. “The slow forgetting of emotional episodic memories: an emotional binding account” Trends in cognitive sciences vol. 19,5 (2015): 259-67.