Diana Enache

How to learn smarter: tried and tested strategies for learning efficiently

About three years ago I started a deep transformative process to discover my purpose, my mission and what to do on a daily basis to fulfil them.
While exploring this territory, I began reading, watching and listening to resources that shed light on the brain’s inner workings, its mechanisms and human behaviour.
I discovered the nervous system, neurochemicals, brain regions and networks, memory, attention, habits, goals, motivation, productivity, procrastination, sleep, and much more. 
As I absorbed knowledge, I embarked on personal experiments and experienced shifts in my mindset, beliefs, behaviours, and habits. 
During this journey, I discovered that one topic stood above the rest on my list of favourite things to integrate.
That one topic is learning – specifically, learning how to learn.
It struck me that despite many years spent learning in school, highschool and university, I was never taught how to learn effectively. This, in my view, is a big miss of the educational system. 

My quest for understanding the act of learning led me to explore concepts like neuroplasticity, attention and focus, memory, optimal sleep and rest, exercise’s impact on learning, and the intricate process of learning itself. 
The more I found, the more fascinated I became.
As I connected the dots between these elements and the process of learning, I made a decision: I would become my own experimental subject. I started new habits and observed their impact on my learning journey and life.

Here’s how my routine unfolds and what it looks like now:

☀️I view sunlight in the morning when I wake up for about 10 minutes. Whether it’s bright, windy, cloudy, or even if it’s raining or snowing, I stick to this routine.
🍵I savour my tea an hour to an hour and a half after waking up, allowing my mind to gradually transition into full wakefulness without caffeine.
👀Intentional focus became a cornerstone. For that I do a 60-second concentration exercise, to create a cone of attention on what I’m about to learn. I do this before coaching and training sessions too.
🕒Learning sessions are typically around an hour and a half. If they’re longer, I break them down into smaller chunks.  Even during moments of initial restlessness, I persist, knowing I can direct my attention intentionally. I choose to stay in the learning zone.
🤓My perspective on mistakes shifted deliberately, as I understood their importance in the process of learning. I now see them as integral to the learning process (most of the time) and as a chance for growth.
💭I tell myself things like “effort is good for learning”, “I like what I’m doing and it’s good for me”, so I attach dopamine to the topic I’m learning about even if it’s a hard one.
😌Throughout the day, I practise non sleep deep rest, yoga nidra and meditation sessions of 10-20 minutes.
📝I revisit the material multiple times after the initial read, listen, or viewing of the material to solidify understanding. Before going through my notes, I make an effort to recall the information and then check my notes.
🍪Occasional rewards became part of the equation. They’re either tasty food or fun experiences. Sometimes I buy myself books…nerdy, I know.
💻I stop looking at screens (phone, tv, laptop) after 10:30 pm. Sleep hygiene has become a priority for me as I understood its role in optimising learning before and after study sessions.

While I’m still refining my approach to incorporate more physical exercise throughout the week and micro-rests within my learning sessions, the impact of these changes over the past few years has been remarkable.
I’ve gained the ability to learn multiple types of complex information (from technical, product related aspects, to psychological and neuroscience concepts) and I’m truly enjoying the act of learning. 
A natural interest in the topics certainly helps. However, I’ve come to realise that learning itself has become a habit, a hobby, elevating my curiosity for life to new heights.

How do you think a new learning routine could change your life? Let me know in the comments.

If you’re not sure if coaching is right for you, take some time to go through these questions and send me a message, so we can set up a virtual coffee chat.

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