Self-study: how to study effectively

Self-learning is a process of self-acquisition and assimilation of knowledge. Educational literature, online courses, video tutorials, and publications can serve as sources of information.

This approach requires high concentration, self-discipline, and the ability to motivate yourself. It is also necessary to use various techniques that simplify and speed up memorization.

Features of self-learning

Self-learning is a set of processes that a person performs to gain new knowledge.

People who regularly engage in self-education and self-learning can choose from the many tools and methods for the most optimal options and conduct experiments that help achieve the best results.

Animals and people can learn well the knowledge that was obtained in the form of a game.

Games can use techniques that develop various skills: memory, the ability to analyze situations, mathematical abilities, etc.

Usually, self-taught people focus their efforts on one or more topics, aiming to reach a certain level of knowledge. It is necessary to have responsibility and perseverance in order to be able to competently organize a self-study program. You will need the ability to plan your time and strictly follow the plan.

The ability to self-learn and self-educate is an important skill in the modern world. You need to understand new information constantly to remain a competent specialist in your field. If you want to succeed in your career, you must keep up with the latest in your field and learn how to put it into practice.

American scientists even came up with a special term that can be used to denote how quickly knowledge loses its relevance: the half-life of competence.

In light of the need to constantly be aware of new methods and technologies, the question arises: how can one learn to assimilate large amounts of information quickly? Many self-learning algorithms can effectively solve this problem.

First, you need to decide on the goal you want to achieve due to training. List the skills you want to develop and indicate their level. This step must be completed because it affects your motivation. If a person needs to understand what he wants to achieve after graduation and what it will give him, then his desire to learn will not last long. The goal you set for yourself should be specific and achievable.

Sources of information for self-study

Self-learning technology is great for acquiring new knowledge. It has long been known that a person who makes a lot of effort to obtain information and get acquainted with it perceives the material better and remembers it. Self-education systems precisely presuppose a person’s independent activity in acquiring new knowledge and skills.

More recently, obtaining the necessary information only from printed sources or with the help of the media in the form of radio and television programs is possible. It took a lot of time to find the necessary data. With the development of the Internet, everything has become much easier. Now you can get answers to your questions in just a few clicks.

Thanks to this, self-learning has become accessible to the general public and does not take much time.

Self-study: how to study effectively

The simplest search engine is already a self-learning tool in itself. You just need to type keywords into it, and you will get a lot of information on the subject of your interest.

In addition, it became possible to use audiobooks. They allow you to use your time rationally when performing routine tasks. For example, you can be stuck in traffic on your way to work and learn English simultaneously. For people with disabilities, audiobooks are also a great option.

It is much easier for a blind person to obtain information this way than printed sources. For people with hearing problems, videos with subtitles have been created.

However, printed sources still have yet to lose their relevance. People are offered a lot of tutorials and educational literature in which knowledge on the issue of interest is systematized and presented in a form that is easy to understand. World literature also offers readers many new books that provide important and interesting information.

Paper editions are also popular because many people are used to them and perceive the text better in this format. In addition, books are more reliable storage media than their electronic counterparts, which can break down or lose data at any time due to a system error.

Nevertheless, electronic media can accommodate a much larger amount of information than paper ones. If you need to have several sources on hand simultaneously, then using an e-book is more convenient and easier than carrying several heavy volumes.

Now people can enrich their knowledge in the shortest possible time. Famous personalities who have achieved success in life conduct educational training and seminars where they share their experience.

In social networks, there are many groups in which people with the same interests gather. You can easily broaden your horizons by simply chatting with like-minded people.

In addition, you can find many webinars and various training courses in various areas on the Internet. Be careful when purchasing such content. Only some people who position themselves as knowledgeable and successful are. Read consumer reviews and pay attention to the availability of the author’s support when buying a course.

The main principles of self-study

Proper use of memory

To achieve self-learning goals, you must learn to memorize a large amount of information. The most popular methods for this are:

The card technique is very popular. At the same time, on one side of the card is a question, and on the other is the answer. You will quickly memorize the necessary information by creating several cards and pulling them out in random order. This method has gained the most popularity in studying foreign languages but is also effective in other areas. You can combine its use with that of other auxiliary programs.

Self-study: how to study effectively

But reading information from abstracts and other literary sources is unlikely to have a lasting effect. Better try to get acquainted with the data and then consolidate the knowledge gained as follows:

  • Retell in your own words what you remember.
  • Tell the interlocutor about the studied topic and answer his questions.
  • Conduct experiments based on the material studied or apply it in practice in another way.

In addition, you can wait to try to understand and remember a large amount of information. Don’t overload your brain. It needs time to rest so that the knowledge gained can be assimilated and transformed into long-term memories. Therefore, breaking the training plan into several small lessons is best.

Also often practiced is the “learning in a spiral” method, in which the student regularly returns to topics already covered, each time delving into them and gaining additional knowledge. This is a powerful method because repetition provides better retention of the learned material and allows you to understand more complex issues.

American engineering professor and scientist Barbara Oakley promotes lifelong learning and says: During self-study, there may come a period when the new material will seem incomprehensible to you. However, you have already familiarized yourself with the information for its perception. Don’t be afraid of this. This is a natural human brain reaction triggered when large amounts of data are received.

It takes time for the information to organize itself in mind. This period will take some time, but you will notice that you can move forward again.

In his book, Think Like a Mathematician, How to solve any problem faster and more efficiently,” she gives even more tips that help you achieve your self-learning goals through various methods. The publication tells about the little-known capabilities of the brain and provides exercises for its development.

And the last tip: when you learn something new, try to draw analogies with already known material or connect the information received with some metaphors. This will help your brain remember new data faster.

Concentration control, return of self-control

It takes a lot of work to force yourself to start solving large and complex problems. The brain understands that it will not be possible to deal quickly with the problem, and it tries to find various arguments to postpone work. In this case, it is necessary to break a large task into several smaller ones. If you see a significant result from work, it will become much easier for you to start doing it. Setting the correct deadlines and formulating tasks for each stage is important.

With the manifestations of laziness and the desire to postpone work, time management techniques will help to cope. For example, the Pomodoro Technique suggests forcing yourself to focus on an unpleasant task for at least 20 minutes and then taking a break. You can build the work as follows: devote half an hour to work and rest for 10 minutes.

Self-study: how to study effectively

After three such cycles, you should take a big break and return to the task. The essence of the technique is that it helps manage your attention. Learning not to be distracted by external factors during work is important. Sometimes you want to have a bite to eat or answer an incoming message. But you need to follow the Pomodoro technique to do this.

Short periods of work allow you not to infringe on yourself. You understand that nothing terrible will happen, for example, if you look through the messages during a break because 10-15 minutes is unlikely to change anything.

Reduce distractions

For self-learning to produce results, you need to use the maximum resources of the brain. It is better to eliminate temptations in advance than waste time and energy suppressing your desires. It is worth opening the news feed once, and, most likely, you will be stuck in the social network for a long time. To prevent this, you can delete or move the apps to a separate folder so they’re out of sight.

Here are some more tips to help you reduce distractions:

  • Turn off notifications on your computer and mobile apps. Of course, this only applies to sites where it is important to receive up-to-date information. Temporarily block those resources that are intended for entertainment.
  • Turn off the sound of notifications for Telegram channels and VKontakte groups.
  • Determine the time at which you will check mail and instant messengers. You don’t need to monitor them all the time. Enough two or three times a day.
  • Install a program that blocks distracting sites while you work and study. For example, use “Stay Focused.

Analyze your activity and determine the time of day when you are most receptive to new information. Try to plan for this period the solutions to the most difficult tasks. All people are different, and someone experiences a surge of energy in the early morning. In contrast, someone else, on the contrary, is completely incapable of working at this time but is ready to sit on it all night long.

Organize rest and provide yourself with healthy sleep.

It has long been known that the average person should sleep for 8 hours every night. Healthy sleep helps the brain recover, create new neural connections, and eliminate unnecessary ones. When you sleep, all the information received during the day is processed. New material is assimilated, and memory improves. No wonder they say that if you want to remember something, you need to familiarize yourself with this information before going to bed.

The duration of sleep affects the general condition of a person. Chronic lack of sleep leads to weakening memory and decreased concentration, weakness, and poor health. You need to get enough sleep to feel good both physically and mentally.

Self-study: how to study effectively

If you need to remember any information, try to read it before going to bed, and after waking up, repeat the material. If, in the evening, you experience severe fatigue and a desire to sleep, then postpone things for the morning. When the body feels the need for sleep, it signals that we need to recuperate. There must be more sense in studying or working at such a time. It is best to postpone things and continue them after the rest.

A fitness bracelet is a useful gadget for analyzing sleep quality. It can identify indicators such as the duration of REM and non-REM sleep, the total duration of rest, sleep quality assessment, and others. After analyzing this information, you can change the rest mode to make it more productive.

Seven steps to effective self-learning

Step 1: Assign a value to knowledge

The basis of self-learning is goal-setting. It’s easier to learn something if you see the point in it. You need to understand why you need it. You can draw an analogy with the Rorschach test: we are shown blurry spots and asked what we see on them. After setting the task, the brain begins to comprehend the picture and create the most appropriate neural connections in this situation.

As a result, we see not just blots but silhouettes of people or animal figures on the card. Even in childhood, looking at the clouds, we learned this method of perceiving what we saw.

American professor Chris Halleman experimented with his students. He asked the students to write a short essay on how they could use their knowledge of statistics in their everyday lives. The study’s results showed that when people could realize the value of the information they received and the possibilities of using it to their advantage, their motivation for learning increases dramatically.

Students who established a connection between the material being studied and their needs improved their grades and became more actively interested in the subject.

Awareness of value helps to avoid mindless learning that produces poor results.

The American psychologist Helen Langer also experimented. She divided the students into two groups and asked them to read the same paragraph from the textbook. At the same time, the first group of students had to study the material, and the second group had to find useful information that they could use in their lives.

When analyzing the results, it became clear that students from the second group learned and remembered the material much better because they comprehended and analyzed the text. When students were asked to write a short essay about what they had read, the first group of subjects showed lower results than the second.

If you tell yourself that it is important to learn something, then the brain does not realize the value of receiving information and will not work to its full potential.

What to do: It is important to ask yourself a few questions before starting self-study. You must understand how learning the material will improve your life.

Step 2: Looking for like-minded people

Motivation is very important for high results. One of the channels for obtaining it is the support of relatives and friends. In addition, it is important to find people trained in the same way as you. You can discuss difficult situations and get advice from a circle of like-minded people. Also, no one canceled the effect of the competition. If you compete with other members of the group, then this will lead to higher results.

What to do: find interested people. You can join a professional community, involve your friends or relatives in teaching, or create a group dedicated to the subject of study.

Step 3: Remembering Similar Facts

In school, a lot depends on whether you learned a given lesson. You need to memorize the necessary information. But not all students have a good memory, and not all teachers can teach how to make this process simple and meaningful.

For the best assimilation of knowledge, you need to use associations. When new information is received, our brain creates mental templates and attaches the received data to existing ones. It is easier to remember something when we clearly associate it.

Psychologist Steven Chu experiments with his students from time to time. He divides the students into two groups and gives them the same text to study. Then he gives the students assignments. The first group should count how often the letter “g” occurs in the passage, and the second group should read the text and think about how pleasant it is for them.

At the end of the time allotted for the task, the text is taken away, and students are asked to write the remembered words. Students from the second group perform seven times better than those from the first.

What to do: draw analogies between the information you receive and the known facts. Watch movies, read books, and study other materials on a topic of interest to build a sustainable knowledge chain.

Step 4: Actively work with the information.

It is useful to develop such a self-learning skill as self-explanation. Learn to draw your conclusions based on what you have learned.

In How to Learn to Learn, Ulrich Boser describes this technique in detail. Psychologist Brian Ross experimented. He started attending programming courses without knowing anything about computers or how they worked. In the learning process, he constantly analyzed the information received and asked himself questions about applying new knowledge in practice and their connection with the material already covered. By the end of the course, he had achieved excellent results, overtaking many students.

What to do: retell the acquired knowledge aloud or to your loved ones; do exercises, and arrange self-surveys. To do this, you can use the card system.

Step 5: Remove all distractions.

Scientists from Stanford University conducted experiments and proved that people prone to multitasking perceive information worse.

Scientists from the National Institutes of Health and Medical Research have found that our brains cannot perform more than two tasks simultaneously. A person has only two frontal lobes, so if he tries to do three or more things simultaneously, he will not be able to get a quality result.

What to do:

  • Plan your time.
  • Minimize distractions.
  • Turn off gadgets and notifications.
  • Ask loved ones not to disturb you while studying.

Step 6: Going from A to B

Learning should be systematic, not chaotic. You need to set goals and make a specific plan. The entire course must be broken down into easy-to-understand lessons. Following the system will help organize and fix the knowledge gained in long-term memory.

Art Gresser, an experienced psychologist, once conducted an interesting experiment. He gathered the subjects in his laboratory and talked about the operation of household mechanisms, such as a toaster or a bread machine. After that, he showed options for their failure. It turned out that people who understood how the device works in its normal state better understood the causes of failure and methods for its elimination.

Obviously, for the best assimilation of new information, you need to create a knowledge base and learn to understand the logic in the area in which you are studying. It is important to memorize individual facts rather than to be able to establish a connection between them.

What to do: get basic knowledge of the subject and then move on to a deeper study of the issue.

Step 7: Taking breaks

To maintain the utmost concentration of attention, you need to take small breaks during your work. Ideal for this is the use of the “Pomodoro” technique, which was mentioned above.

Make a schedule for work and rest, use Pomodoro timers, and take breaks after a certain period, including entertainment and a warm-up.

5 Self-Taught Programming Tips

Tip 1. When taking a course on the basics of programming, use sites that allow you to run code line by line directly in the browser, such as one compiler or replied.

Their use will allow you to move on to practice immediately after familiarizing yourself with the theory. You will not need to be distracted by settings you have not yet gone through.

Tip 2. Be sure to complete the tasks that are offered after the course. This practice will allow knowledge to be better consolidated. Make a summary of the solution to the problem. Describe in detail the algorithm you used and how it was implemented. After completing a few of these tasks, you will notice that the speed of your work has increased, and it has become easier to complete tasks.

Tip 3: Create an account in a note-taking app. You will enter all relevant information on the topic into it: abstracts, notes, examples, etc. It is convenient to use applications such as Evernote or Notion, which have mobile and browser versions.

It will be convenient for you to store information in one place. This will make it easier to find the topic you are looking for. In addition, you can learn new questions while waiting, for example, in line or on a trip.

Tip 4. Plan your time for at least 45 minutes for one lesson. This mandatory minimum allows you to thoughtfully study the theory, pass the test, and reflect on the practical problem. Make sketches for solving the problem, and then organize a break. During it, you can relax or switch to something else. Later, using the previous notes, return to the solution of the practical problem.

Tip 5. Output everything to the console! Understanding the meaning of expressions and variables when solving practical problems is important. This will allow you to understand how the code is being executed.

How much time should I allocate for self-study?

If you devote maximum time and effort to any business, you will soon lose enthusiasm and burn out.

It is important to understand that even if you devote all your free time to development and self-study, this does not guarantee that you will quickly achieve success.

It will take a long time for the manager to notice and appreciate your successes. In addition, there are situations in which the authorities only increase the load on the employee who has acquired new skills but, at the same time, do not promote or change the salary.

If you have moved to work in a new field, you should undoubtedly engage in self-study to not look less competent against the background of experienced colleagues.

If you want career growth and aspire to a leadership position, you must further develop your leadership skills and learn people management skills.

If you are not considering promotion yet but want to earn a reputation as a competent employee, setting aside a few hours a week to update your knowledge is enough.

During this time, you can do the following:

  • Read the news in your field to understand current trends and directions for professional development.
  • To study the innovations of competitors of the enterprise.
  • Analyze the vacancies in this area.
  • Make a list of materials to study.
  • Take the time to become acquainted with interesting information.

If you follow our advice, your importance to employers will grow. You can easily find a job that suits your level. No employer wants to lose a competent employee who constantly strives to gain new knowledge and wants to develop in the chosen field to improve his work.

Ways to increase the effectiveness of self-learning

How can I increase the effectiveness of self-learning?

Build an understanding of value and purpose.

Ask yourself a few questions to help you decide on the concept of learning:

  • Why do I want to invest time and energy in education? It is necessary to identify your motivation and understand the value of learning.
  • What do I want to learn? Formulate specific goals to be achieved. Based on them, it will be easier to build a task plan.
  • Can I study, and how can I organize this process? Analyze your learning skills, explore different methods, and choose the best one.

Determine the area of current knowledge and needs.

To understand what tasks you need to set for yourself in self-study, go through the following steps:

  • Analyze your business processes and identify the most pressing issues.
  • Make a list of your skills and knowledge and determine their importance.
  • Analyze the study of what information is necessary to improve the quality of work.
  • Formulate a list of knowledge you want after completing the course.

Choose your learning style.

British psychologists Peter Honey and Alan Mumford have developed a simple test to help you determine your learning style. People’s psyche is arranged in different ways, and for the best perception of information by them, different methods must be used. For example, activists prefer to immediately start putting what they have learned into practice and learn from their mistakes. Thinkers first study the experiences of others.

So how do you make the learning process as efficient as possible?

Reception 1: Business: time; study: an hour!

Make a daily routine and allocate a specific time for studying the material. In this case, it is necessary to consider the body’s biorhythms, but still, the morning hours are considered the best for the assimilation of information.

Technique 2: Learning—in life!

It is necessary to combine passive and active learning. It is important not only to study the material and understand it but also to apply the acquired knowledge in practice. Discussing information and solving problems will help the assimilation of knowledge.

Technique 3: Evaluate the results and rejoice in success!

Review what you have learned and try to devote some time to it. Remember to praise yourself for your successes and achievements.

How do you consolidate knowledge in practice?

Psychologist David Kolb has created an optimal model for adult learning. It includes four stages:

  • Practical experience At this stage, the problem area is identified.
  • Reflection. The causes of problems are analyzed, and the main one is identified.
  • Idea. Various decisions and their consequences are considered. The best option is selected.
  • Action: the application of the chosen solution in practice.

Using our tips, you can develop self-study skills and achieve good results in mastering new knowledge.

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