5 Ways to Become a Better Learner

Written by Salina Jivani

Maybe you’re looking to acquire a new skill or polishing up an existing one. In either case, you know that, soon, you’ll be thrust into a virtual or actual classroom…and it’s been a while since you’ve been in a formal learning environment. It’s enough to give anyone the jitters. And understandably so. After all, you’re there to succeed, but you want to make sure you’re making the most of this opportunity and not falling flat on your face.

The fact that you’re anxious is an indicator that you’ll work hard to succeed, but follow these additional easy tips to achieve the most from your learning endeavors.

Understand the benefit

If you’ve voluntarily signed up for a course, it might be easier to identify its value or benefit, but if you’re strong armed into attending a work-related training, you may be attending begrudgingly and, therefore, be more reluctant to pinpoint an advantage to your participating. In either case, make sure you discover the underlying benefit of the classes or trainings. Think about what you’ll gain from them, how they’ll help set you above your peers or how they’ll give you a clear advantage that you’d otherwise miss out on. Understanding the value of your education or training will make it that much more priceless to you, enabling you to soak in information with a receptive, open and eager mind.

Set goals

Once you understand the training’s objectives, be sure to set specific goals for yourself. Think about what you want to acquire as a result of the training or what particular skills or knowledge you want to obtain as a result of your participation. Outlining these goals at the onset of the course will help you subconsciously work toward achieving them as you progress. But to make sure you’re on track, take notes and jot down milestones as you inch closer to your learning goals–and be sure to mark them as complete once they’re achieved.

Ask questions

Many people hesitate to ask questions, but doing so will only hinder your learning and understanding of concepts—which means you won’t be able to optimize your educational experience. If you’re anxious to speak up, take a deep breath, gather your thoughts and figure out exactly what it is you need clarity on, then ask away. It’s likely someone else has the same or a similar question but is having trouble gathering the nerve to ask.

Develop your skills and knowledge

Perhaps the most important component of all during your training is to acquire new knowledge or skill. But more importantly, be confident you’re clear on how you’ll be able to apply what you’re learning in a work setting or in the real world. Making the connection between learning the skill and how it will play out in actuality is perhaps the most vital piece of all.

Put it to practice

Finally, get to work on using what you’ve learned. Doing this ASAP is important for a few reasons. First, you don’t want to forget what you know while it’s still fresh in your mind—which is what will likely happen if you wait too long to use your newly acquired skills.

Second, you’ll be eager to know how effectively you’re able to extend your new expertise to the real world. And what better way to find out than to get hands on? Plus, putting things into practice will likely allow you to better connect the dots and have a deeper understanding of your newfound skill or knowledge, allowing you to perform it with improved confidence and assurance over time.

A word for the wise: it never hurts to have a trusted, experienced professional on hand (maybe a fellow buddy or colleague) in case you encounter any questions or hurdles along the way and require a trained eye to help you through.

Alongside these learning tips, I leave you a tid-bit of encouragment with a quote from Anthony J. D’Angelo: “Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.”

3 Surprising Ways Reading Helps You Become More Intelligent

Written by Salina Jivani of “The Great Word Nerd” blog

065d8cf84455aba96b64b7254937b3dbWho doesn’t want to boost their IQ a few notches? It’s a competitive world out there and with that healthy dose of competition comes a quest for self-improvement and advancement. After all, it’s the intelligent people who can more easily snag the higher-paying jobs and expect to land themselves on the career-path of their dreams. This search for building intelligence has given spark to apps like Luminosity and Quiz Up. Because with intelligence comes more money, luxury and prestige. But you don’t have to indulge in exhausting, mind-numbing activities to sharpen your mind and gain the knowledge you seek. There’s a simpler way to do that: read. Don’t believe it? Read for yourself (see how we did that?). Here are three ways squeezing in that book time will help you become a cleverer more intelligent you.

Promotes analytical skills

Reading every day increases analytical abilities and helps develops logic. Routine readers are able to better pick apart stories, piece together components, deduce and induce logic and make stronger educated guesses than those who don’t read regularly. The more you read, the more you’re able to develop logic, connect the dots, increase comprehension and establish reasoning. And because you’re able to comprehend and piece together facts better than those who don’t read, you’re also able to understand more than them.

9075accaf5b517d33613a6d66edf60a0

Improves focus

In our technology-driven world, cell phones, laptops and iPads are all the rave—and constantly vying for our attention. As a result, attention spans are shorter than ever before. But focus is integral and one way to develop that focus is by reading. Unlike our technology-driven gadgets, reading requires keen attention, without which you wouldn’t be able to comprehend whatever it is you’re perusing. And, as is the case with any other exercise, the more often you read, the better you’ll become at maintaining that focus.

Keeps your mind stimulated

Just like your body needs exercise to remain in shape and healthy, the same is true of your brain. Reading stretches your thinking and comprehension muscles as your mind works at deciphering words, both familiar and unfamiliar, based on context. In short, reading puts your mind to work, which done frequently enough can help sharpen it, allowing it to work like a well-oiled machine.

The list above is in no way a complete overview of the benefits a regular reading routine can offer. But just in case you’re curious, among its many others are: vocabulary expansion, better communication skills, improved writing and greater empathy for others. Think of it as an all-in-one vitamin for your brain and take advantage of any spare moment you have to skim through a news article or flip open a book. Your mind will reward you later.