Today I watched the TED talk about Learning to Learn, the most popular free online course run by Barbara Oakley.

I’m very interested in helping people take action (that’s why I launched our book club) on what they learn so they can change their lives, that’s basically the whole reason I started BookProf and my interest in watching this.

2 Modes of Learning- Focus & Diffuse (relaxed)

Focus is when we are focused and the learning is happening in one area of a topic and in the brain in one area. We are using our resources to pay attention and connecting the dots.

Diffuse is when we are more relaxed and letting the ideas ping around, from one area or topic to another.  This would be when you are spending time being creative, like suggested in Think & Grow Rich, such as taking a walk, writing, sitting quietly, etc.

We normally think we learn the most from the focused mode, being in class, reading a book, etc. But it’s actually in the Diffuse mode where we make connections and come up with new ideas.

This is often where we solve problems. And it’s my favorite place to spend time because I come up with some awesome ideas.

Here’s a quirky thought she mentioned: if you have a bad working memory it only means you are more creative than others.


Procrastination is Physically Painful

Another area discussed in the TED talk was procrastination. Apparently, when we have to do something we don’t want to do we actually feel physical pain in our brains.

And there are only two options: work through it or do something else.

Working through it is the best way because the pain will go away after a bit of time if we do this. The professor suggested using the Pomodoro technique for this because when we spend time focusing, then taking a break to have fun we are strengthening our abilities to focus and have fun.

This made me think of how Mel Robbins talks about courage and confidence being muscles we have to strengthen over time.

Tips for How to Learn

These 3 tips really stuck out to me as I listened:

1. Exercise increases our ability to learn and remember – so make sure you keep your body active.

2. When you want to remember something, look at the page, then look away to see what you recall, this creates hooks that help you remember.

3. Test yourself all the time on what you know/remember. Try testing and thinking of the information in new places.

Finally, this quote really resonated with me:

“Understanding is truly important, but only when combined with practice & repetition in a variety of circumstances can you truly gain master over what you are learning.”

So I’ll ask you to sign up to our book club as we strive to help people take action on what they learn so they can make real progress in their lives.


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