Learn how to learn

By | 29/08/2017

Notes taken from the Coursera course Lean how to learn
Focus mode – focused in a subject. no distractions
Diffuse mode – not focused in a subject. jumping from one thing to another – creating new neuronal paths

Spend less time but more focused

Diffuse mode situations:

  • Moment just before sleeping
  • Doing sports
  • Changing to another subject to return later

Thinking during walks


  • The information is processed and the brain makes an upgrade
  • Cleans the brain of toxines
  • Going to focus mode before sleeping to dream about what you want to learn


Techniques to avoid procrastination:

  • Turn off distractions
  • Set a timer of 25 minutes to focus on the task
  • Get a “reward” after that 25 minutes
  • Focus on the process (working method), not on the product (task)

Tools: Marinara extension for Chrome


  • the cue – event that triggers the procrastination — based on the location, time, how you feel or a reaction
  • the routine
  • the reward
  • the belief

to change an habit, you have to change the reaction to a cue.

weekly list + daily list the day before!
set quitting time!

most dislike task first time in the morning. at least one pomodoro

Find the projects and the way that motivates you.


Long term memory

  • Immense storage
  • Practice is needed in order to be able to locate the memories
  • Repeating through the days better than doing that in one evening

Working memory

  • We have 4 chunks of working memory where we can store and work on information

To create chunks:

  • focus
  • understand and duplicate (not enough with listening)
  • context
  • practice

Chunking on too many subjects will cause trouble

Practice on difficult items, not only the easy items.

Einstellung – solution not found or blocked because a pre knowledge blocks new ideas

Recall and recall in other environments

Visual and Spacial memory systems

  • Visual images representing key items
  • Meaningful groups like associate numbers to years
  • Memory palace to remember list of things – imagine where they would be in a known location (house, university, etc)

To memorize things:

  • use cards – handwritting
  • try to recall the contents
  • review them over the days, maybe just a few minutes, or maybe also before going to sleep

Various subjects

30 seconds habit – after a meeting, lecture, or experience, take 30 seconds to write down the most important points
Pay attention to when music is ok or not
Take responsibility for your own learning
Review things after taking a breath to get a bigger picture prespective
Teach what you have learn to others

Team Work
resources of the team, learn from others
other team members provide other views that can act as your difuse mode.
Team work needs to work, no delays, no conversation changes, etc

Taking tests

Do not work too hard the day before the exam

– Make the following checklist to know you are ready for the test – create your own

Did you make a serious effort to understand the text?
Did you work with classmates on homework problems?
Did you attempt to outline every homework problem solution?
Did you participate actively in homework group discussions?
Did you consult with your instructor?
Did you understand all of your homework problem solutions?
Did you ask in class for explanations of homework problem solutions that weren’t clear to you?
A study guide?
Did you attempt to outline lots of problems solutions quickly?
Did you go over the study guide and problems with classmates and quiz one another?
A review session?
Did you get a reasonable night sleep before the test?

Hard start – Jump to easy: Start with the hard problems (read and try to solve them) and then jump to the easy ones – that activates the diffuse mode over the hard problems

Relaxing tips:
Relaxing breath (stomach, not breast) – try it several days before the exam
Relax consciously the tongue
Have a plan B in case the test doesn’t go well – it helps to relax