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6 Ways to Become a More Efficient Learner

Updated: Jan 25, 2023

There are plenty of articles on the Internet about how to become a more efficient leader. Simply throw the word ‘leader’ into Google, and you have a million search results instructing you on exactly how to improve. But what if you want to become a more efficient learner? These 6 steps will provide you with the foundation you need in order to become the most effective and efficient learner.

Keep an Open Mind and Be Willing to Learn

You don’t know what you don’t know. There’s a reason you’re attending a class, or training session, or lecture; even if you don’t see what it is in the moment. Be ready to find the new lesson and welcome it with open arms. Arrive with a positive attitude, and set your intentions for the course. Learning something you didn’t know previously allows you to grow; it doesn’t mean you’re a bad employee or a poor performer. Sometimes we allow these thoughts to enter our minds, dismissing new ideas as unnecessary and deeming training ‘annoying’ or ‘a bore.’ Years on the job doesn’t make you an expert; this mindset often can hinder your progress. You may be stuck in your ways, and struggling to evolve as service expectations change. Check your ego at the door, and admit that you don’t know it all. The most effective, efficient learners are dedicated to developing their skills. They’re perpetual, polite students, viewing all new opportunities as learning opportunities. As soon as you get excited about new techniques and examples, you’re already improving.

Ask Questions

We’ve heard it all before: there’s no such thing as a stupid question. Many people avoid asking questions for fear of being ridiculed or being made to feel inferior. More often than not, there are several other people who are equally afraid of asking the question, secretly hoping that someone else will do it, knowing they’ll benefit from the answer. On the flip side, the teacher is likely hoping that someone will ask questions. They’re passionate about what they’re teaching, and they want to discuss the subject with you. If you want to be a more efficient learner, ask the question — you’ll grow your confidence, and clarify expectations. You can’t expect to learn to your highest potential if you’re passively accepting information without truly understanding it. Asking questions, and contemplating the answer, allows you to ensure that you’re growing to fullest capacity in your respective field. You know what they say… if you don’t ask, the answer will always be ‘no.’

Take Notes

You’re more likely to remember details if you handwrite them. Note-taking can sometimes feel like a tedious task, but it is a necessary evil if you want to retain the information for a longer period of time. When we only listen to the information, our brain does not retain anywhere near the amount of information as it does when we physically write notes down during it. If you take notes during a presentation, or a meeting, or a lecture, you will be ensuring that you remain focused and engaged throughout the entire thing, and you won’t walk out of the room thinking to yourself, what did I just learn? The curriculum will be reinforced, guaranteeing stronger retention.

Don’t Take It Personally

You spend a lot of time with your coworkers. The majority of your week is spent with them, and you get to know them pretty quickly. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you even form friendships with them, and feel comfortable to converse with and confide in them freely. So when they offer you constructive criticism, it can become difficult not to take their words personally. It is important to remember that your leaders and managers — even if they’re your peers, and you’re friendly with them — have a job to do, and sometimes that involves offering advice and criticism that isn’t easy to swallow. At the end of the day, everything you do at work is to better the operation of your business, and each employee is working towards that goal. Feedback and course correction are forms of continuous learning.

Be a Sponge

One of the easiest ways to become a more efficient learner is to treat every moment like a learning situation; constantly ingesting information, eager to improve There are so many situations you can learn from on a day-to-day basis, much beyond the typical training sessions and employee review meetings. Maybe your coworker interacted with a guest in a way you’d like to emulate. Or maybe you overheard a closing to a phone call that sounded particularly professional that you want to try. If you’re interested in potentially working your way to your current boss’s position, ask her if you can shadow her for a few hours. If you’ve thought about making the switch to a role in the Marketing department, email the Director and pick his brain about the best and worst parts of his job. Learning isn’t limited to a classroom or a training; you can soak up information from virtually anywhere if you remember to be a sponge.

Become the Teacher

Can you train someone else to a perfect performance? Are you able to pass on what you have learned to someone and make it understandable and obtainable? Once you can say ‘yes’ to these two questions, you have absolutely perfected the behaviors and performance levels expected of you. Until you can teach someone the skills you’ve been taught, you haven’t mastered things with confidence and competence.



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