Laws of training

Accelerated learning is somewhat similar to athletic training. We learn new things, train specific groups of skills, and then we need to transfer the generic learning skills to very particular tasks we handle. For today, I have chosen articles here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Does accelerated learning apply to what I do?

This is a very common question I get, from people of every possible profession. The general answer is always yes, and then comes the creative part: let us see how. While my official education is in electric engineering, I held a lot of positions that told me valuable skills in many disciplines. Each time I had to learn a new thing I eventually found out that I needed to learn differently, yet some things never change.

PAO visualizations can be used for everything, do not think it is just for numbers, also you can use single digit visualizations. Mind maps work very well with things that change a lot, like programming and engineering stuff. Mental palaces work best with things that are very strictly ordered, like laws, standards, and protocols. Animations are best for stories case studies, legal precedents etc. People tend to start with one method, and with enough motivation eventually, master all three.

I did not yet find an idea so abstract that no visualization could be applied. Typically good visualizations feel like “very cool, almost there, but not very accurate”, which is OK. Keep the visualizations simple. Quite often the right visualization for you will seem too obvious, like a proverb or a slogan, which is OK. Do make sure to create dense visualizations: something you failed to visualize you will fall to remember.

Here are some commonly questioned disciplines:

  1. Any programming or engineering tasks. Memorization and prereading extremely useful. Simply search this site for the term “program”, e.g. http://www.keytostudy.com/?s=program. Typically the training itself is with techcrunch or equivalent, quite different from how you would practice the skill in real life, which is still OK.
  2. Any legal or accounting or medical information. The challenge here is selecting the memory structure that works for you and allows to weave stories (animations) withing the rules (mindmaps or mental palaces) and numbers (PAO visualizations). The main practice here is fast memorization.
  3. Business information and journalism. Here the focus is on reading speed and this is the most classic scenario for the accelerated learning.
    1. Reading speed is VERY important for me!

      This is a common claim of every student. I agree that reading speed helps, but is it so important?
      Here are some ideas from my own experience:

      1. Comprehension beats retention, retention beats speed. I read fast and remember a lot, but these skills are secondary. Comprehension is the most important aspect. If I really understand why things got the way they are how they work, I can always fill up the blanks. Most of the time, this professional intuition is more important than particular information, which can usually be found in Google. For creative tasks, the memory does play a huge part – we do not come up with new ideas unless they are based on some things we remember. Without deep comprehension and memory based on both reading and experience, we might be unable to solve many tasks. The speed with which we do solve tasks is secondary to the pass or fail situations.
      2. Hurry up slowly. When we try to finish our task as soon as we can, quite often we end up working slower. Organized work is very important. If we leave loose ends, we will need to take care of them. Doing something once is usually better than trying to do it three times till it succeeds. When people get new skills, they want to try them in complex situations, which is risky. It is best to build up confidence in simple situations first. Another important aspect is self-talk. When we try to hurry we cannot focus on what we do, since we try to reason the time we spent and the time left to completion. It is best simply to focus on the mission and reevaluate situation after each milestone.
      3. Hands on vs reading. Some people try to read their way into programming, trading, coaching, and management. Unfortunately, the complex skills cannot be acquired simply by reading. We do need to read a bit first simply to understand what we are about to face, but then we need to use hands-on approach. And we will fail a couple of times. We fail less if the new skills we acquire are similar to skills we already mastered. The next common error is quite the opposite: after acquiring some hands-on dexterity we stop reading. There are accelerated changes in all areas of human activity. It is crucial to read on the subjects we want to master, otherwise, our mastery gets outdated very soon. And once we discover some new idea, we do need to try it hands on. Ideally, this cycle of reading followed by hands-on implementation followed by more reading should be quite fast. We should also add some inefficient steps to try out some of our own ideas and see them fail, before focusing on the state-of-the-art results: to build intuition.
      4. Psychological vs technical barrier. Visualization is a great tool to tackle not only learning challenges but also psychological limitations. Quite often we do not do things because they look scary and complex. Alternatively, we may be distracted by huge numbers of details that are readily available, instead of looking for deeper insights. Many barriers we face are technical and need to be overcome by hard work, yet other barriers are just in our minds. The work with our psychological barrier should be as meticulous and accurate as the way we deal with technical limitations, only this understanding is somewhat hard to swallow. We publish and will publish many articles on this issue.
      5. Never stop learning. The turtle and the rabit story is very characteristic. People who get great results first quite often get bored, overconfident, destructed, or otherwise not passionate about their success. The slow starters quite often end up with better results, because they make fewer mistakes (watching others make theirs), and because they persevere with their target.

      Atheltic approach

      Once we can focus on our target and achieve our mission successfully, only then we focus on doing this really really fast. Here, everything you know about athletic performance may apply.

      1. Focus on preparation, not examination. An athlete focuses on training, where competition as a peak performance, is just one of the steps in the training. A professional athlete focuses not just on one competition, but on a series of events and timing between them.

        If you’ve put in the time and effort to develop your physical, technical, tactical, and mental skills and habits, you will have the capabilities and the belief to perform your best on the day of the competition.

      2. Training should be similar to work. If the skills you need to develop are not trained, or there is a huge gap between the skills trained and the way they need to be applied, this gap needs to be closed as a part of your personal training plan. Once you can speedread, you need to switch to speedreading your materials, and this can be hard. For example, most mathematical texts are good for prereading/rereading or for slow reading with 100% comprehension but are extremely hard for normal speedreading. Adapting the reading tactics to the materials you read is a part of speedreading training, and may be more complex than other tasks. Probably 1/3 of Anna’s 1:1 students come to us for the help with such adaptation.
      3. Training should be applied to all relevant skills. If you try to skip visualization or memorization and go directly for speedreading, your results will be poor. If you do not work on your visual angle, you may read faster than most but will never read very fast. Psychological aspects need to be handled as well as technical. Training routine and implementation tactics are as important as the basic skills we learn.
      4. Grit, responsibility and persistence. Unlike some sports, accelerated learning should not hurt or be tough for you. Therefore there are not as many difficulties to overcome. The training is still very long, so it requires persistence. And if you are not disciplined you may make serious mistakes which may even require full retraining, so you do need to be responsible. Grit is often defined as working hard now to get gratification in the future, and this is definitely a must.
      5. Clear purpose, prime focus, and prime intensity. If you do not read at least 4 hours per week, there is very little reason to learn accelerated learning. In the case of family emergency, or when sick, or simply overwhelmed with tasks, people do not train well. An occasional vacation up to a month is very reasonable. For more than a month vacation, you will need to regain some of your skills before you can continue with training.
      6. Be ready for Prime time. You can never know when you will need all of your learning acumens. Threats and opportunities can be unexpected. Good training routine will build your academic acumen, to handle the most extreme challenges to your knowledge and ability to learn.

      Competition

      Competition is a good way to get better. Students always compete with their peers for better grades, interns for better positions. As we become experts in our field, the competition is global over the best projects and benchmarks. Use this competition as a source of motivation, not the source of anxiety. Help others and choose worthy opponents. Quite often the better the people you compete with, the better you become yourself. In real life business scenarios, the strongest competitors may also be best friends: you are interested in the same things, you have a similar ethical position and you respect each other. If you fail, quite often your worth competition will give you the safety net.

      People who compete are more motivated to train and train harder. Try to find peers interested in accelerated learning and generate a healthy competition.

      Failure

      Reading speed can drop. A long vacation may be required. We may fail to apply old methods to new challenges. Learning can be challenging and we may fail. Here are some thoughts to consider:

      1. You are not alone. The vulnerability is important to try new things and get out of your comfort zone. Do not get stressed about it. If the situation gets too hard, you can always contact me info@keytostudy.com.
      2. Maybe you pushed yourself to your limits. Personally, I believe that it is important to step occasionally out of the comfort zone, but pushing yourself too hard is a recipe for burnout. Pushing yourself to your limits may be risky and stupid, but it is also courageous and deserves respect.
      3. Focus on the learning opportunity. Challenges are opportunities to learn yourself. If you failed, there is a lesson there. If you do not even understand why you failed, maybe you are not prepared in one of the disciplines essential for the task.
      4. Recovery will make you stronger. When we recover from a failure, we get more focused, more cautios and more determined. This can be a good thing.
      5. Happiness is in your control. The results of certain actions may be not in our control. How we tend to react to these results is in our control. Our happiness is in our control, whether we succeed or fail. If the root of our failure is in our beliefs, we can change these beliefs. If we feel unhappy by training or its results, we can also change that.

      Success

      Quite often success is more dangerous than failure since we simply stop training. Once we reach a reasonable goal, it is a good idea to set a higher goal. People who stop training may start regressing. Enjoy the success, get motivated by it. Success is a sign to go on, not to stop and procrastinate.

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