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Boost Your Motivation to Learn Hard Things | Scott H Young

Common patterns to the problem of motivation

Common patterns to the problem of motivation

There are three common patterns to the problem of motivation:

  • Drive: You don't have a strong enough desire to learn.
  • Anxiety: You have a strong aversion to learning.
  • Distraction: You have something else that draws your attention.

The difficulties we have in learning are not just related to strategy. Sometimes you know what to do, but don't do it.

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Boost Your Motivation to Learn Hard Things | Scott H Young

Boost Your Motivation to Learn Hard Things | Scott H Young

https://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/2020/07/04/boost-motivation/

scotthyoung.com

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Key Ideas

Having a weak drive to learn

Without a drive to learn, it's hard to get going. Weak drives include expectations from family, teachers, or employers. It's the things you have to do, but don't want to do.

You can change this, but you need an inspiring goal to get you started. If your project doesn't excite you, no advice will help.

Problems of anxiety when learning something

Sometimes you are excited to learn, but you still avoid getting started. You may worry about the fear of failure, feedback, or performing. If you expose yourself to the thing you find unpleasant and nothing bad happens, your fear will lessen.

Reframing is often helpful in overcoming this problem. Begin each studying session with the idea that you will find it hard.

Problems of distraction when you're learning

Distraction is not always bad. The problem is when distraction becomes compulsive. Create rules that will prevent toxic distraction.

  • Set time limits and caps on all digital distractions.
  • Work on one project at a time, see it through until the end.
  • Never quit on the uphill. Don't stop when you've just got a question wrong.

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When to Study
When to Study

Studying time is more efficient if it is spread out over many sessions throughout the semester, with a little extra right before the exam.

Cover each piece of info five times from when you fi...

What and How to Study

Testing yourself, so you have to retrieve the information from memory, works much better than repeatedly reviewing the information, or creating a concept map (mind map).

After the first time learning the material, spend the subsequent studying to recalling the information, solving a problem or explaining the idea without glancing at the source.

What Kinds of Practice to Do
For a particular exam, use the following:
  • Mock tests and exams that are identical in style and form.
  • Redo problems from assignments, textbook questions or quizzes.
  • Generate your own questions or writing prompts based on the material.

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Practice loops

Practice loops are useful as a concept to think about learning any skill. A practice loop is an activity or group of activities you repeat over and over again while learning somet...

Loops and drills

Many loops aren’t straightforward repetitions. You may never write the same essay twice. The loop isn't writing a particular essay, but the overall process for writing essays.

In the same way, each thing you learn may have more than one loop. Drills are smaller loops to focus on smaller parts of the bigger loop.

Designing Your Practice Loop

Step one involves figuring out what your loops are. These are the activities you repeat over and over when learning something.

Next, analyze the loop for different parts to see whether you can make improvements. It will result in faster learning.

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The best routine for studying
The best routine for studying

It is often unhelpful to hear that the perfect routine is the one you can stick to to help you reach your goals. As everyone is different in personality, constraints, and preferences, the ideal met...

The ingredient of the perfect studying routine
  1. Instructions can be in the form of lessons, books, or tutoring. They are useful to avoid wasting time with trial-and-error.
  2. Retrieval involves deliberately remembering the knowledge, not just passively reviewing it.
  3. Spacing is repeated reviews, spread out over time. It forms part of a regular routine where you cover old knowledge along with new.
  4. Understanding. The goal of learning is for ideas to make sense. Explain the concept to yourself. When you get stuck, find a textbook or teacher to help you.
  5. Feedback. You don't have to get feedback from other people. When you can get accurate feedback that doesn't need another person, go there first.
Fixing your current studying routine

To perfect your studying routine, look at your current routine, and see what's missing. For example:

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  • You work correctly through a course, but don't space your learning: A ten-minute pop-quiz on previous topics can help you remember and save hours later.