Rapid learning is a skill that can be acquired by anyone. Likewise being highly efficient and productive is also a skill and lifestyle habit that can be learned and integrated into one’s life.
Let’s talk about productivity first before we get into the world of #MetaLearning.
How To Learn Like A Machine
Understanding Efficiency vs. Effectiveness
EffectivenessÂ is getting greater or equal output for a given input.Â Efficiency is having a superior process so that for a given input the output is always exponentially greater.
80% result with 20% work
1. Create a morning ritual (the first 90 minute).
2. Establish a daily routine (daily structure).
3. Establish a weekly routine (weekly short term objective).
4. One postcard size to-do list (to be disposed at the end of day).
5. Keep a pen, dairy and a voice recorder always handy.
6. Do your most important task during your most productive hours (in terms of mental energy and freshness). Do your least important or auto-pilot work during your weakest hours (again speaking in regards to mental energy).
7. Practice Lucid dreaming and practice conscious dreaming to strengthen your visualization skills.
8. Sleep 8-9 hours. This sounds paradoxical but it’s true that sleeping 33% of your time keeps you super productive for the rest 66% of your waking hours.
9. Seek creative solutions to your complex problem in your dreams. Harness the power of your unconscious brain.
10. Master a ritual or routine that helps you to get into the “Flow state” faster. Get into the flow state as often as possible, and aim to stay there for as long as possible.
Meta Learning Explained
As with most things in life (or word), there is no one best thing or way. One technique might works for someone while another may prove helpful to another.
Also, ion our context of methods to learn faster, the best technique will also vary based on the subject at hand. For example, learning music or musical instrument is significantly different from learning investment strategies in the stock market.
The Word ‘Meta’
The word “meta” comes from Greek and it means “beyond” (or after). This is why we have words like Metaphysics (beyond conventional physics). Etc. Meta also means “self-referential”. In Computer Science, metadata means “data about data”. Metacognition means “cognition about cognition”.
Tim Ferriss‘ DiSSS and CaFE is a good method for learning cognitive tasks such as Language learning, Computer Science as well as for physical activities such as Archery and Brazilian Jujitsu.
Tim’s method is external, dismantling and then rebuilding, and effectiveness driven. This is explored in depth in his new book The 4-Hour Chef.
Josh Waitzkin‘s art of learning (meta learning) focuses on integration, transformation and channeling. His method included conscious unlearning (instead of ignoring).
Josh’s method is systematic but creativity driven. Josh explores his ideas in his autobiographical book The Art of Learning.
Best Rapid Learning Tools and Methods
In my own experience, I have learned 5 languages so far and I am currently learning Nepali (my 6th language).
I am a published poet and I’ve worked as a coder and as well as solar panel plasma depositor.
I am a black belt in Shotokan Karate and at the same time a start-up guy. I am a blogger and also work a full-time job. I have traveled to all 50 US States and 32 countries so far (as of 2019). So how am I managing all this within the constraint of the 24 hours that we all have?
I have utilized both DiSSS, CaFE and Josh’s Art of Learning principle. Moreover, what has worked for me is a combination of everything plus my own experiments as outlined below.
I learned SQL and programming from nothing. I learned dancing from not knowing how to move. True that I had a background in martial arts (a form of dance-like art) and true that I studied engineering and took a few computer languages class. But, still, in my own mind, I was a zero. How did I do that?
An Effective Meta Learning Template
DR. BevO, DaD, Me, MoM & our CAT BiTS
This can be further broken down into three layers (top, inner, and outer) of organized learning principles.
Layer 1 (The top layer): DR. BevO
Layer 2 (The inner layer): DaD, Me, MoM & our CAT
Layer 3 (The outer layer): BiTS
The top layer: DR. BevO
Step 1: Deconstruct and Dissect.
This step is all about methodically breaking down a body of knowledge in order to study its internal parts and complex interconnection.
What is the minimum useful unit of knowledge? For a foreign language, it would be a word. For a programming language, it would be a syntax.
Step 2: Reference framework (to not reinvent the wheel)
Pick a reference framework. To learn a new skill, find out what one you already possess and if you have to teach it to someone totally new, how would you structure your classes and why?
For example, if I have to teach someone Martial Arts, I’ll start with the four most common kicks among the top four schools/styles. Learning most common (& effective) four kicks will put you in top 10% of fighters.
SQL or Programming – Most common functions, syntax and/or statements
Learning most common syntax and statements will make you query work 80% of the time.
Find and study the “normal (i.e average)” and the “experts/masters/anomalie
Question 1. What do the average people do?
Question 2. What the experts or master do not do that the average do?
Doing this will help you to determine:
– List for quick reduction
– The goal is to not become a master or mimic a master but to simplify so that you can enter first and then go on to conquer.
Step 3: Bird’s Eye View (View from 30,000 ft)
Look at the extreme and center. Do this to filter out whatever intimidates you. You can always come back to the additional learning materials later. Compress the most important 20% or so into a 30,000 ft map (to be used later).
A bird’s eye view map. This step is related to navigation and to correctly size your problem. This step is also to get a reality check. Once you know what you are up against it is easy to fight it by breaking it down intoÂ smaller conquerable pieces.
Step 4: Order
Order is to sequencing your learning material into modules (linear and later overlapping). In other words, what’s the most effective order for learning these parts that you broke down in step 1 – 3?
The inner layer: DaD, Me, MoM & our CAT
This is the second layer of learning. Here it is all about putting the pieces together. This is the battleground. In layer one, you have done all the planning and you have made your strategies. Now, time for the action. Are you ready?
Step 1: Draw diagrams
Draw as many diagrams as many you can. Connect the dots. Connect the concepts together. Find correlation. Find overlap. Find opportunities for integration. Find the opportunity for improvements. Question and find the gaps.
The more you draw and trash and draw better knowledge diagrams, charts, and maps, the more efficient you will become at the application of your newly acquired knowledge. This will also help you with the next step.
Step 2: Memorization
Memorize the map. Memorize 20%. Memorize the syntax. Memorize the kicks. Memorizing in this step is about rapid memorization.
If some of the things do not make sense, still memorize. Slowly, slowly, you’ll learn to connect the dots. Do not worry about understanding the full theory here, just remember the most basic units of your learning material.
Step 3: Mental Maps
Creating mental maps is going a step further than drawing knowledge charts and diagrams. Mental maps are where you start to connect the dots between what you have understood so far. Mental maps also take advantage of your 30,000 ft view to help you understand what you need to do next to reach your ultimate goal. This map is the map for your beginning to end the journey.
Note, mental maps will keep refining as you get better in the application of what you have learned and when you start to understand what you have bluntly memorized.
Step 4: Cheat sheet (no bigger than one page)
This is to be made by you. Irrespective of how small or big this gets, you alone must create this. Again, as with the whole theory behind this method, you’ll keep refining your cheat sheet.
A cheat sheet is what you have learned. This contains mostly what you have not memorized and the essence of what you have memorized already. You can also prepare CliffsNotes of any books, articles, etc that deals with the skill that you are trying to learn.
Step 5: Action (& Practice)
Action means to practice in real-time. This is where you get comfortable with the hands-on phase of any skill acquisition. This means real-time coding. This means kicking high. When in action phase, you are NOT to learn new things unless and until you have mastered the things that you have broken down so far.
(You can, however, dig deeper into what you are practicing if time permits.)
Remember iteration is the key concept. If you are learning SQL selects (for one database table) with group by, order by, and all the other basic SQL commands then until you are master in all the variations of select, do not jump to joins (selecting data from two or more database tables).
Practice with the diagrams you have drawn and the cheat sheet. Refine your diagram and cheat sheet as you make mistakes in action/practice phase. Also, needless to say, you are also modifying and improving your mental maps.
Step 6: Time it (Distributed learning)
Two things to do in this last phase. Time your learning window and then test yourself. By failing to remember or do something you’ll feel that internal kick which will make your brain in super-receptive mode. Remember, sometimes real learning happens when you have failed a test. So fail many times in mock tests before the real test comes.
Secondly, distribute your learning sessions. Rather than sitting whole night or two days straight, split your session. Do something fun in between or you may even play with something totally different. It is better to keep the primary focus on one difficult thing at once but you can surely have fun with something that does not require high cognitive energy.
Note, you learn well when you are enjoying your subject. That’s how you get into that flow state. And to enjoy your subject, you need that mental energy. You do not want to be fatigued.
The outer layer: BiTS
This is the third layer of learning. You need only one of the following three. If you can do more than one, even better. But you must have at least one of these to keep you in accountable and interested in the game. Make learning fun, make it a game.
Step 1: Buddy system
Having a buddy whether it is programming or martial arts helps you quiz one another, challengeÂ one another and therefore learn faster. The more fun a new adventure is, the faster you master it.
Step 2: Teaching
Find someone whom you can teach what you have learned and what you might not have learned. Teaching others is one the fastest way to learn something yourself. If you cannot find someone to teach, teach yourself. Play a mind game with yourself. Quiz yourself and answer to yourself.
Step 3: Stakes
This is all about staying in the game long enough to reap rewards for your hard work. Too many people quit a new skill after some trying because they feel it is not worth it. First thing to note here.
1. Are you motivated by negative outcome (fear) or positive outcome (anticipation of reward)?
If you are the fear type then you need to find out what psychological and social mechanisms can you set up for maintaining your inner discipline?
For example, you can publicly share your goal with your friends so that you feel accountable. On the other hand, if you are internally motivated, perhaps, set up a reward for yourself if and when you achieve a milestone (or mini-goal).
Hope this helps in reaching and achieving your goals. Please feel free to leave me your thoughts in comments below.
Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in touch!Do you have a favorite meta learning method that you follow (or have followed in the past)? If you have tried Naked Soul method, please share your success stories and how this has helped you learn a new skill faster. Any other comments, please feel free to share your thoughts with us.Â