About effective learning (Part 2): My personal experience

In the previous post, we talked about the need a lot of us share in wanting to learn things fast and with minimum effort, and I shared with you a part of my story with learning techniques as well as the beginning of my struggles with such a thing. So if you haven’t already, make sure you check that out, and let’s carry on with my effective learning journey.

Anyways, that was when I started struggling with what we call effective learning. I had to find out a way to still be myself (not get depressed) but also do good in school. First thing I had to do was to let go of that “need” or “desire” to be first of my class because that was not high school anymore, but since I was so used to being like that with hardly any effort, it was kinda hard for me to accept that being the first in class was no longer going to be one of the things that people use to refer to me. It was hard to calm down that competitiveness voice in me that told me that the only way that I could be important and worthy of respect is if I was first in class again. I knew I could do it if I put the effort into it (and some teachers saw that in me too) but I also knew that that would mean that I’ll have to be that “crazy competitive nerd” to say the least. And I don’t like having to prove myself, but I also knew that if I wanted to still be number 1, I needed to study more, to work harder, and to leave some of the things that I liked behind, just simple things that bring me joy.

And so I decided I didn’t want to be the “best” anymore, I never wanted it that bad at the first place, it just used to happen, but I discovered that it didn’t mean much to me anyway, even if it was one of the things that my parents were the proudest about. And so, crazy competitiveness and ego issues out, I started to try things out to discover who I was going to be as a student but also as a person in that stage of my life (It was also the first time I leave my home town to go and live in a boarding school away from my parents, which held in itself a lot of life lessons, more of that in future posts, let’s focus on the learning processes right now).

At first, I tried to apply the same “studying techniques” that I used to do before, and that was to look at my textbook for 0 to 2 hours two days before the exam (I had come up with a rule that I shouldn’t be studying the night before the exam because things will get confused in my head, I strongly believed in that rule Lol).

The results of those “techniques” were bad, I was ranked in the 3rd to 4th quarters for most exams (that was bad because you’re risking to be sent home if you stay there for a long time). And so, I was like Okay, this is clearly nothing like high school, so I better get my ass on that chair and start doing what everybody else is doing. But I had to find my own way of doing that and so after a few attempts, I’ve tried different techniques because I just couldn’t be that “always studying kind of student”, plus I would get bored easily and so I wouldn’t be learning anything anyway.

Long story short, after a few more months, I found a balance when it comes to hours of studies each week, how to study, where, tips to increase focus, tips to remember things easily. I discovered those things for myself by trying things out and watching the results, I didn’t know at that point that there were people who study things like “the science of learning how to learn”, I didn’t know of what is called “cognitive psychology” and I had no idea how the human brain is formed, how we record information, how memories are formed into our minds and how does the process of recall work.

I wish I knew these things back then, and I think if I had read something similar to these posts that I’m writing right now, it would have helped me a lot and saved me much more time. I can go on and on in explaining to you how I discovered what worked for me through my repetitive experiments and trials to get it right, how I managed to be ranked in the top 20% of the students in the country and get access to ALL the engineering schools in the country and had the choice to choose one of them (not for some of them to choose me) even if I wasn’t top of my class. I can also explain how I had to change my learning techniques in each stage of my life whether in engineering school or in university for my Ph.D. studies, at work, in learning new languages, in learning about Islam and the Quran, in learning a specific skill, a sport, in learning beauty hacks and makeup, in making the most of what I read and listen to, etc.

However, I prefer to briefly introduce you to some of my favorite referenced tips on how you should do it, now that I’ve read some books about this subject, took a 15-hour long course on “learning how to learn” and reviewed some very interesting research papers that are published in some of the most prestigious scientific journals about human science and psychology. You might be already using these tips whether you know about them or not (I know I was using some of them naturally), but some of them can be completely new to you and can help you remember more of what you learn, so you can learn more effectively with less effort and time and have time to do things that you enjoy the most and that bring you joy. We will talk about these tips in the next posts inchAllah, so stay tuned :D.

To be continued

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