When it comes to improving knowledge and performance, we all want the best of the best.
But in order to be our most productive and effective selves we need to optimize our brains — not through drugs or supplements — but by employing a number of scientifically tested techniques that have been tried and proven to improve one’s ability to learn, remember, think and focus.
Here is a list of the 9 best brain hack methods to learn faster:
The Pomodoro Technique
Created by developer and entrepreneur Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, Pomodoro is a time management method where you break down your work into 25 minutes intervals (called “pomodoros” or tomato/tomato) with breaks between them for 5 or 15 minutes.
The idea is to use the 20 minutes of work plus 5/10 minutes break to clear your head and stay fresh.
The Pomodoro Technique works on the basis of intermittent reinforcements, which is a psychological term for rewards given after a specific behavior.
It helps you stay concentrated during short time spans by rewarding with short breaks (that can also help you recharge) and achieving a sense of accomplishment for completing your tasks.
The Distributed Practice Effect
If there is one thing that the more we know the less we remember, it’s called “the distributed practice effect.”
It basically states that if you distribute your learning sessions over time with gaps in between them, you will end up remembering more compared to learning it all at once.
The reason behind this effect is that your memory performance has a strong dependency on the overlap between the new learning material and what you already know.
Distributed practice overcomes this problem because it forces you to make connections with knowledge or skills acquired in previous sessions, before moving on to learn new concepts.
This increases retention of knowledge and, according to some studies, it can help improve the overall learning results.
The Spacing Effect
Another way to learn more is to space out your study sessions instead of cramming everything together if you want optimal recall shortly after your last review session.
Even though cramming can be effective in certain cases (like when doing a last-minute review before a test), your long term memory will benefit from using the spacing effect where you study or practice a new skill or piece of knowledge at least twice a day over a longer period.
The more the better, but even an extra 20 minutes can be beneficial.
The One Minute Rule
In order to get things done faster, one of the most common pieces of advice you’ll hear is to break large tasks into smaller ones.
In his book “The One Minute To-Do List”, New York Times bestselling author Mark Forster explains that a task or activity should never last longer than one minute if you want to get it done efficiently and effectively, with no time wasting.
The idea is that it often takes up to one minute for the brain to start focusing on a new task after you finish what you are currently doing.
This means that if you take small steps towards your goal instead of large ones, chances are that you’ll find yourself being more effective and productive because your mind will have less time to wander off.
The Eisenhower Matrix
The Eisenhower matrix, also known as the Urgent-Important matrix, is a time management matrix that helps you understand which tasks are important but not urgent (that means they can wait), which tasks are both important and urgent, and which tasks are unimportant but urgent.
This way you’ll be able to prioritize your important tasks based on your end goals, instead of getting lost in the urgent ones that come up.
The 20/10 Rule
As you probably know, humans can only concentrate for about 20 minutes at a time (that’s why pomodoros are 25 minutes long), after which our focus starts to dwindle until we start thinking about what we will have for lunch or how much we dislike this task.
In order to use your time as efficiently as possible, The 20/10 Rule suggests breaking up the work into two different periods of 20 minutes each, with a 10 minute break in between them.
You can also use The 50/10 Rule instead if you want to take a longer break, but the whole thing should remain under 50 total minutes of work and 20 total minutes of rest.
The 30/30 Rule
Another way to work on a task without feeling overwhelmed by the entire process is to set a timer for 30 minutes and use every second of it productively.
If you get distracted, put your hands on your head or tap your pencil in order to make sure you refocus on what you started doing.
After the 30 minutes is up, put a checkmark on a piece of paper or give yourself a pat on the back or some other small reward.
Teach someone else
Teaching somebody else what you’re trying to learn is a great way to solidify your own knowledge and understanding.
According to a study published in the journal Cognition and Instruction, students who explain concepts to others tend to remember those ideas better than those who simply read about them from a textbook.
In addition, teaching someone else might not only give you an opportunity to learn more, but it might also provide the chance to get valuable feedback on your new skills, which can help you improve them even further.
The 10 Minute Rule
If you find that there are just way too many distractions around while trying to study or work on something important and require a lot of focus, try using The 10 Minute Rule to stay accountable.
The idea goes as follows: if you can’t focus on anything for more than ten minutes, then you know you need some sort of change that will help you find peace and quiet (turn off your internet connection or close the door, for example).
The whole point of this rule is to be used as a last resort, not as a regular way of dealing with distractions. If you find yourself using it too much, take it as a sign that something is wrong and try to change your environment or work habits accordingly.
A lot of people think that multitasking is a good way to work more efficiently.
Unfortunately, the majority of scientific studies suggest that this thought couldn’t be further from the truth. If you want to be as productive as possible and get more done in much less time, try sticking to one task at a time.
In order to do that, you can use the Pomodoro technique, The Eisenhower matrix, The 20/10 rule or one of the other time management tricks mentioned above.
If you find yourself struggling with motivation and focus, try to find something fun about what you’re doing so you’ll stay motivated throughout the entire task.
If everything else fails, start small – try to work for just ten minutes, then you can gradually increase the time.