If you’re a full-time Entrepreneur like I am then you know that finding the smartest ways to maximize the outcome of your learning hours is hugely rewarding because for us business owners, optimizing TIME while getting the best out of it is just like finding pure gold. Imagine having the ability to read one whole book in 60 minutes or less and still remember most of the information in it? Or having the ability to learn complex things like if you were learning how to catch a ball?
Awesome. Those are abilities every entrepreneur wants to master because if we improve our learning methods then outsmarting and outworking the competition gets much easier, right? Who wouldn’t want to grow faster while getting a higher level of expertise at the same time?
Everyone. Because the market demands you to be sharp. Your business needs to be sharp. Because if you really care about serving people well enough, if you care about having the best connections and building the best relationships with your customers then you need to stay at the top of your game. Period.
So this is why I’m writing this personal development article.
I want to show you some accelerated learning techniques that can make your competition cry like a little baby who doesn’t get what he wants, which is to beat you in the marketplace because you’re evolving and building yourself damn too fast.
So let’ begin this fast-learning thing.
THE SPEED READING TECHNIQUE
There’s much noise about speed reading but very little actionable information about it online. Speed reading consists in reading rapidly by assimilating several phrases or sentences at once. The goal is to read CHUNK of words or even complete sentences instead of a word-per-word reading style, which is the normal speed most people use for reading. So in practice, speed reading is highly beneficial because it gives the reader the crushing advantage of reading AT LEAST 700 words per minute whereas normal reading speed usually doesn’t surpass the mark of 150-200 words per minute. Powerful.
And yes, without losing text comprehension. Promise.
The simplistic definition of Speed Reading is this:
Now let’s get into the technical side of it.
First of all, there are 3 types of reading process we humans adopt:
- MENTAL READING — This is also called SUB-VOCALIZATION. Here the reader reads a word and speaks it internally, inside his head, when reading to himself. Every word has to be spoken first before he continues to read on to the next word. This is the slowest pace possible a person can have in reading.
- AUDITORY READING — This is a better process, but not a perfect one yet. The auditory reading style consists on the person HEARING the words being read internally, which means the person doesn’t repeat (speak) the word inside his head but still hears it after reading it. The reader reads a word but still hears it internally.
- VISUAL READING — The experts world. Here the reader reads a word and never speak or hear it internally, he only processes it on his brain to understand its meaning and move on. The moment the reader’s eyes hit a specific word, he automatically understands its meaning like if he was seeing an image. Words become images. So you read the word “HOUSE” and instantly the brain understands house, exactly like when you see a picture. That’s visual reading.
So now that’s all clear, the actual technique to teach yourself speed reading is as follows:
- PART 1 — Minimize the number and duration of fixations per line. When you’re reading a line of text, stop focusing on EACH WORD gradually until you completely ease fixation on every word.
- PART 2 — Eliminate reading regression (re-reading). Every word you already read must be forgotten and you can’t get back to it. Compromise understanding first so you can learn the mental rule to not do any regressions, which means, not read again the same sentence or word even if you lost content comprehension. The goal is to fixate this rule in your mind when you enter reading mode because the faster you implement this, the more you can focus on the next critical and final method of speed reading.
- PART 3 — Maximize the number of words you read at once per line. The goal here is to read more words at once until you can read FULL sentences in one or two chunks of words. Put your effort on amplifying your peripheral vision, reading more words in just one fixation. A trick I personally use is fixing your eyes in the middle of 6 to 8 words (but not so much) because that way you peripheral vision does the rest of the job.
Alright, now you learned the technique.
Next, you need to apply the following steps:
LEVEL 1 – Practicing the technique (dominate the skill)
LEVEL 2 – Practicing the technique with more speed (read faster!)
LEVEL 3 – Practicing the technique while boosting comprehension (comprehend faster!)
And just to make things a bit simpler regarding the visualization reading process, here’s how you should focus on the text when reading it:
“[Word1 Word2 Word3 Word4 Word5 Word6] Word1 Word2 Word3 Word4 Word5 Word6″
“Word1 Word2 Word3 Word4 Word5 Word6 Word1 Word2 Word3 Word4 Word5 Word6”
The bold part is CHUNK Nº1.
Next, you go to CHUNK Nº2 (always focusing on the middle to maximize the peripheral vision):
“Word1 Word2 Word3 Word4 Word5 Word6 [Word1 Word2 Word3 Word4 Word5 Word6]”
“Word1 Word2 Word3 Word4 Word5 Word6 Word1 Word2 Word3 Word4 Word5 Word6”
Regarding practice, to optimize and maximize the learning process of this motor skill I recommend you to set goals first, and double or triple your goal while practicing. So, assuming you currently read at a speed of 400 wpm (word-per-minute) and you have a goal of reading at 900 wpm, then aim for at least 1.800 wpm or 2.700 wpm because that way, your brain will learn the MOTOR SKILL faster, which is the what you really need to learn as fast as possible. Because as soon as you use more of your peripheral vision and enhance word recognition while reading, and as soon as you turn this into a normal reading process of yours, the faster you’ll get powerful results.
Just so you know what powerful results mean, here’s a simple metric:
(1 PAGE PER 10 SECONDS)
That’s how fast you need to try to be to master the motor side of this skill.
Great. Then get to work.
Next fast-learning technique.
THE SKILL DECONSTRUCTION TECHNIQUE
Real experts know that the path to exceed at something faster than others is to simply deconstruct all steps of a game-changing technique, breaking a skill down into small, learnable pieces in order to be able to master it in way less time than an average person. However, the problem why people can’t accomplish this is quite simple: People GET LOST and don’t know where to start from as soon as the deconstruction process begins in their minds, making them confused. But why? Simple. Because there’s too much new information to pay attention to, too many unknown subskills to focus on and no “map” that tells what to learn first to master that specific skill.
Is like telling someone: “Hey, go learn french”.
Then the person gets lost and asks you back: “How can I learn french?”
Normal outcome right? I bet you have heard such a question before.
People get confused when they face a new skill they need to learn because they don’t know where to start from and how to deconstruct the skill in such ways that it makes it look like adding 2+2. Therefore, as a result, they usually rely on courses or choose to take classes to learn what they need because they simply can’t deconstruct the skill itself, having the necessity to listen to a mentor or a teacher who can show them “the path” to master that specific skill.
But if you know how to DECONSTRUCT the skill, then this happens:
Alright, but let’s cut to the chase. Pay attention here.
You have TWO different skill categories in your brain (scientifically speaking):
- COGNITIVE SKILL — A Cognitive Skill are those core skills your brain uses to think, read, learn, remember, reason and pay attention to something. These skills require critical thinking and always summon brain power to accomplish the task with the skill in-demand. A few basic examples of cognitive skills are: Computer Programming, Playing Chess, Learning a New Language etc.
- MOTOR SKILL — A Motor Skill are those skills that your brain uses to tell the body what to do, meaning, all physical movements. Here, brain power is not very much required of course, but it needs a certain level of energy to execute a task. A few basic examples of motor skills are: Swimming, Riding a Bike, Dancing, Weight Lifting etc.
The reason why I explained both learning types above is because there are practice techniques that can speed up even more the fast-learning process for EACH learning type in your brain, making the general fast-learning process I’ll show you next a double-win. So, by just varying the practice methods for each skill category you can help the brain understand the desired skill faster. These two points are what in essence allows us to save an enormous amount of time when you’re learning something. No wonder we call it “fast-learning” process.
So to summarize it, in order to learn faster a skill, you need to execute:
Now let’s dive in on each doable step to make things really clear.
Here’s the skeleton to learn how to do ACCELERATED LEARNING:
- PART 1: DECIDE WHAT SKILL YOU WANT TO LEARN AND WHY, ALONG WITH ITS PERFORMANCE LEVEL — First of all, you must decide WHAT skill you want to learn, WHY you want to learn it and the performance level you expect to achieve on that particular skill. The “what” part of this step one seems useless and silly but once you put together with the “why” part, it becomes a truly logical, time-saver step. For instance, if you started thinking about learning Italian just to be able to make an order at a restaurant in Italy or just to be able to ask for directions on the street, then LEAAAARNING THE ITALIAN LANGUAGE seems too much, right? You just need to learn a few sentences/words to be able to take care of yourself when dragging yourself in Italy (this is a VERY simple example). Aside from that, you must consider the real necessity of learning the skill as well. Why? Because for example, an alternative solution could be taking a friend with you who speaks Italian to deal with these issues for you, so why waste a part of your limited hours on Earth to learn something you won’t actually use later on in life? This is why you should ask yourself the first two questions of step one. Because you don’t want to put yourself in a time-waster situation, investing hours plus effort on a skill you don’t necessarily need to learn. Well, once both those questions are well-answered and you realize that you DO need to learn the skill, then you must set the desired performance level you expect to achieve after going through the whole fast-learning process. This is key so you can plan ahead and prepare the best learning routine and material from the beginning. Want an example? Alright. If you would like to learn how to swim just to be able to compete in a Triathlon Championship, then you’ll need to master swimming at a higher degree other than “just enough not to drown”. Got it? So learning how to swim won’t be enough because you’ll have to learn how to swim with more EFFICIENCY in order to achieve your final goal, thus, creating the necessity to deconstruct the skill from the champion’s perspective so you can reach the same level. Get it? There’s swimming for survival and there’s swimming for beating the competition and you can bet both are entirely different if your goal is winning a Championship. That’s why the performance level counts. Because in order to feel that sense of accomplishment, set more realistic goals when diving in your fast-learning journey. Decide WHAT you want to learn, WHY you want to learn it and the desired performance level you aspire to achieve. That’s step one for accelerated learning of a skill.
- PART 2: DECONSTRUCT THE SKILL INTO EASY-TO-LEARN SUBSKILLS — Here is where the fun actually begins. Look, all you have to do is really asking the right questions for mastering this step. Let’s take Computer Programming for instance. What are its subskills? Well, slicing it into small, core pieces, we have: (1) The Programming Environment, (2) The Computer’s Logic, (3) The Language Particularities. Those 3 areas are what you need to learn in order to actually turn a piece of code into a runnable program and at a minimum level. So what you first need to do is quite simple: Ask yourself regarding AREA nº1 (Programming Environment) – “Do I know how to use that programming tool? What’s necessary to configure it? And where do I actually write a piece of code inside of it so I can turn my lines of code into a program?”. That’s step one for this subskill, which is mastering the programming environment just enough so you can execute your newbie lines of code. Ok, so after you got that covered then move on to the next question: AREA nº2 (Computer’s Logic) – “Do I know how computers check and validate my piece of code? How does it ‘understands’ my program? What are the computer’s actual steps to transform written lines of code I wrote into a runnable program?”. That’s step two. Learning how the communication mechanics between your program and the computer happens in practice. Next, you finish with the last question: AREA nº3 (Language Particularities) – “What programming language is the best option to learn computer programming? What are its coding particularities and benefits? What’s easier to do in that specific programming language? What’s harder? How do I install it?”. That’s step three, which is learning what programming language suits best for your specific case and how can you code a program with it, so you can understand the language’s syntax and its programming resources.
- PART 3: RESEARCH THE SKILL JUST ENOUGH TO START PRACTICING IT — After learning all the substeps from PART TWO, you need to do your homework and put everything together to learn HOW to actually do it and start practicing. You must pick the exact learning barriers that are blocking you from practicing the skill, learn them all, and get to work as soon as possible. The goal is to obtain the minimum amount necessary of knowledge possible in order to be able to practice the skill itself.
- PART 4: ELIMINATE EVERY LEARNING BARRIER BEFORE PRACTICING A SKILL — Once you have done your research, you need to prepare the learning environment. You must optimize the physical space you use to study and practice the skill in such a way that no distractions nor limitations are possible when you’re in a learning session. For instance, if you need SILENCE to learn how to program then cut off any sounds or noises by picking a silent spot as your learning spot. Remove anything that has the power to create learning-blocks on your mind. For example, if procrastination is an issue as well, then make the necessary learning tools as close to you as possible and avoid having procrastination devices near you, such as a TV or something similar when is time to get to work and practice. Get it? You need to isolate yourself in order to optimize your learning hours.
- PART 5: COMMIT TO PRACTICE THE SKILL FOR AT LEAST 20 HOURS — The final and most important step: PRACTICE the skill for 20 hours. So, if you take a 30-day learning sprint, then 20 hours will be around 40 minutes per day, which is the minimum amount of time necessary your mind needs to be concentrated on learning that particular skill.
Let’s recap all steps so you can store this framework in your brain with more ease:
PART 1 — Decide WHAT skill you want to learn, WHY, and the PERFORMANCE level
PART 2 — DECONSTRUCT THE SKILL into easy-to-learn subskills
PART 3 — RESEARCH THE SKILL just enough to start practicing it
PART 4 — ELIMINATE EVERY LEARNING BARRIER before practicing a skill
PART 5 — COMMIT TO PRACTICE the skill for at least 20 hours
Alright? I told you it was quite simple.
Ok, now let’s talk about the OTHER optimization approach I said before: The cognitive/motor skill learning techniques you can merge with this process above to power up all of this.
Here’s the next move.
THE COGNITIVE/MOTOR SKILL LEARNING TECHNIQUES
Once you started practicing a skill you want to master, having ways to consolidate your learning experiences and maximize skill retention in your brain is the next smartest step to take towards learning optimization. What I’m about to give you next is how to execute certain techniques that can make our brains request more brain power so it can store the new information we want to learn, faster.
Here’s the next piece of gold.
THE CONSOLIDATION TECHNIQUE — This technique is highly effective when you practice it within a couple of hours BEFORE going to sleep. Yes, before my friend. Research suggests that sleep actually helps learning and memory BEFORE and AFTER a learning experience has happened because it can enhance a person’s attention levels. So AFTER a good night sleep (or a nap) you can make the learning process easier for you. But this particular point is no news since we (normal mortals) usually acknowledge it eventually.
But the CATCH comes next.
Sleeping like a baby for a couple of hours before OR AFTER getting to learning mode helps in memory consolidation, which is one of the key processes the brain has to do every time it is learning brand new information. Therefore, if you also sleep right AFTER a learning session you’ll maximize the process making your brain store all necessary information faster, thus, boosting your progress in learning that motor skill.
Sleeping before a learning session clears your head and maximize information absorption.
Sleeping after a learning session helps the brain consolidate information faster.
Do you need to do both? Not quite. But if you want to learn some motor skill faster then have a great regenerating nap so you can feel great and have a clear mind state before entering the learning session, and then sleep after the session has finished for consolidation. Sure, doing this verge near the impossible if you have learning sessions of 20 mins, but if you invest almost the whole day on learning that motor skill then you can bet that your brain will absorb all the information a lot better if you sleep afterward.
Alright? Then go get some sleep.
OK, now let’s change back to cognitive mode and learn how to hack it.
THE FLASH CARD TECHNIQUE — Keep showing yourself a card with the information you need to remember on one side, and rapidly flip the card hiding again the information. Make this a fast cycle by constantly showing and hiding the information card in order to make your eyes always pay attention to the card itself and therefore, pay closer attention to the information.
So, assuming you’re learning chess and you have already deconstructed its core basic skills (like the moves every piece has), you can use images like the one below in the cad to learn all piece moves faster:
So imagining you have at hand images from all chess pieces showing each particular move on each of them. Now, using the flash card technique, all you have to do is dedicate a few minutes flashing the cards to yourself per piece until you memorize the move of each piece.
That’s learning by repetition.
A powerful memorization tool our brain uses to store information faster. So if you practice this process for around 10 to 15 minutes for each piece of information, you’ll learn quicker what you want. And a key part of doing this is to never overload the card with too much data either. Try to summarize all you need to learn in a few core sentences, words or images before using this technique. Slice things up. Make it small, smart and sharp. For learning new languages, for instance, you can put a few words (5 is a good number) and its translations side by side and then keep flashing yourself the card over and over to learn certain words faster.
THE MENTAL VIDEO TECHNIQUE — Also called “Visualization & Association technique” by most people but since I so original I prefer to make things simpler and call it a “mental video” technique. Well, regarding this other resource, the easiest example I can give you is this: have you found yourself afraid of doing something because you used to play that terrible “small movie” inside your head BEFORE actually doing what you needed to do? Yes? Did it prevent you from taking the desired action? Probably yes, right? That’s because you stepped into a fear-based realm, didn’t you?
This is how powerful your visualization process really is.
So here in this technique, you’ll use the Visualization & Association technique for a completely different purpose: Skill reinforcement. Period. You’ll play a small video inside your head on which you’ll be practicing the skill over and over again, imagining yourself executing it with precision bit by bit, thinking on each step the skill requires for executing the full learning experience. So instead of using it to sabotage yourself you’ll now use it to master new things by projecting your current “you” to a place where you have already mastered the skill.
And don’t think this is just “advice”. There’s obviously science behind it.
Because for learning purposes, visualizing the information and associating it to imagery is a lot more powerful since we learn much better through visuals, which is a hard, undeniable fact. We as humans process 90% of the data we receive in our brains visually. That’s how the human brain works.
And since the brain process images 60.000 faster than text, it is no surprise that we’ll likely memorize visual data much more than any other kind of data (like chunks of text for instance). The human memory works with imagery. So if you project your learning experience into a sequential image session (a small video) and create associations in your head, the skill gets a lot easier to learn.
So envision yourself practicing the skill, ok?
THE MIND MAP TECHNIQUE —Well, you already know that the human brain learns better through imagery. Great. This is exactly why a Mind Map is a powerful technique you can use to reinforce learning as well because it is a….MENTAL……MAP. What it does, in essence, is summarizing EVERYTHING into ONE single image and gathering all key information that your brain needs to maximize comprehension and help information absorption. Therefore, by placing all core data on this one image, it gets much easier for the brain to memorize what you’re trying to learn.
So here’s how this technique looks in practice:
So if learning English grammar was part of your final goal or the goal itself, then a great example of a Mind Map would be this one above where you have all the specific information gathered with the sole purpose to make your brain assimilate almost everything that has been taught at once. That’s why a Mind Map can solve many learning issues. Because it reinforces your learning experience by presenting only the really important details by giving you a practical “shortcut” that sums up hours of one or more learning sessions in just a single image. Genius. The brain gets happy. Therefore, you also get happy with your new skill.
That’s why you should use mind maps to boost information absorption.
If you learn how to learn faster you’ll put your competition on their heels. And although my approach to all these accelerated learning techniques is essentially for entrepreneurial purposes, you can see that it can surely be used for your personal life as well if you like.
Anyway, have fun learning fast my friend.