How to cut learning time in half

by Jeff Haden: Bestselling non-fiction ghostwriter, speaker and columnist for Inc.com.
A recent study reveals the scientific secret to cut learning time in half - with just 1 click.

Want to learn faster, retain more information, and improve your memory? You're not alone: While success sometimes can be the result of whom you know, long-term success is almost always based on what you know. That's why most successful people are constant learners.

And that's why most successful people take a research-based approach to learning faster and retaining more. Like by learning several subjects or skills in succession. Or by tapping the power of memory consolidation and reconsolidation. Or, oddly enough, by exercising before they try to learn something new. Or, even more oddly enough, by sleeping their way to better long-term memory and recall.

Now add one more technique to the list: Research shows you can learn just as much by watching a video at twice the normal speed as you will at normal speed.

And, as a bonus, learn even more in the same amount of time you would have spent.

First, the basics. According to a recent study published in Applied Cognitive Psychology, students who watched lecture videos at 1.5x speed retained just as much information over the course of a week as those who watched at normal speed.

The same was true for 2x speed, making - even though millions of people choose it - the 1.5x button an irrelevant choice. (Why spend 45 minutes watching what is normally an hour-long video when you could spend only 30 and still get the same learning outcome?)

That's level one: Click the 2x to learn just as much in half the time.

Then, if you really want to up your learning game, add another 2x viewing just before you will be "tested" on what you learned. In the case of the study, participants who watched the same 2x video again immediately prior to taking a test earned higher scores than those who only watched the video once.

Why? Recency clearly makes a difference, and the repeat viewing also helps promote memory consolidation, the process that stabilises a memory after its initial acquisition.

That's level two: learning significantly more in the same amount of time.

Try it. Say you're one of the 56 million people (and counting) who want to learn more about the power of vulnerability from Brené Brown's classic TED Talk.

Watch the video at 2x speed. (The speed will be uncomfortable at first, but you'll quickly settle in.)

But don't just passively listen. Follow the advice of Jim Kwik and ask yourself three questions:
  • "How can I use this?"
  • "Why must I use this?"
  • "When will I use this?"
Those three questions will improve your recall, because your new knowledge now has a purpose, motivation, and time frame.

Then wait a week and watch the video again at 2x speed.

That way you'll remember even more, and therefore be more likely to use what you know.

And in the same time you would have spent watching the video once, at normal speed.

Can't beat that.

Useful resources:
BlackBird Media
Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about business and technology as he worked his way up in the manufacturing industry from forklift driver to manager of a 250-employee book plant. He has written more than 30 non-fiction books, including four Business and Investing titles that reached #1 on Amazon's bestseller list.
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