Learning is necessary for our success and personal growth

But we can’t maximize the time we spend learning because our feelings about what we ‘should’ be doing get in the way.

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Let Go of the Learning Baggage

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When our brains equate learning and work

If we are learning for work, then in our brains learning equals work. So we think we have to do it during the day, at our workplace.

We think that walking is not learning. It’s ‘taking a break’. We instinctively believe that reading is learning. Having discussions about what you’ve read, however, is often not considered work, again it’s ‘taking a break’.

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When mastering a subject, our brain has two general modes of thinking: focused and diffuse, both important in the learning process.

The focused mode is what we traditionally associate with learning. But we need time to process what we pick up, to get this new information integrated into our existing knowledge. We need time to make new connections. This is where the diffuse mode comes in.

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Breaks keep us from getting bored

The human brain just wasn’t built for the extended focus we ask of it these days.

The fix for this unfocused condition is simple—all we need is a brief interruption (aka a break) to get back on track.

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The Science of Breaks at Work: Change Your Thinking About Downtime

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Learning is a easy concept but we make it hard

In order to learn, we need to sleep

Learning is hard and takes effort on a personal level. It requires attention and physical energy.

 • When you start learning, you need to pay careful attention to bring that information into your short-term memory. Lack of sleep can make it difficult to pay attention to. Even memory champions can only hold 5-7 pieces of information at a time.

 • When you sleep, short-term memories are moved to a different region in the brain for long-term storage. Your brain then consolidates the information and select what information to forget.

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Learning how to learn is a meta-skill. It is a critical skill for everyone who needs to pick up and master new concepts frequently.

Understanding what is learning and how our memory works will help you understand why certain techniques work and how to use and adapt the techniques to your advantage.

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Learning to Learn

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