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How to Learn Everything - Skiing the Information Avalanche

... and a Cool Avalanche Skiing VideoAvalanche.

The information comes down like an avalanche.

Innumerable podcasts, millions of books, blogs, wikis, articles, feeds, tumblr, twitter, facebook...

The amount of information is overwhelming.

How do you absorb the massive amounts of information in a useful way? This article is the first in a five part series titled How to Learn Everything. In this article, I'll walk you through an overview of how to consume massive amounts of information in our information-saturated world.

In the next article, I'll discuss how to use technology to increase the information we consume in Plugging into Tech. After that we'll talk about how to capture inspiration with advanced note taking. In the third article of the series, we'll talk about memorizing as you listen with mnemonic notes. Finally, we offer an article on speed reading.

Capturing Inspiration - 43 Tips for Advanced Note Taking

The Harvest WriterWe all have those moments.

Inspiration flashes in front of us. Ideas become almost palpable.

I've found that without a method for capturing inspiration, the inspiration is lost. Receipts, post-it notes, and the napkins are the graveyards of genius.

Today I wanted to share a few techniques. Knowing how to capture notes and ideas then organize them in a useable way is a key to learning. If you can’t remember what you’ve learned, then why learn it at all? I’ve scoured the internet, books, and my personal experience to bring you this article. I sincerely hope you enjoy it.

Overview – Advanced Note Taking

I’m going to go over three techniques for organizing your notes: email, Evernote, and the good old notebook. All of these strategies offer you a central method  to consolidate your notes and inspiration. I’ve tried to chalk this article full of useful tips and resources along the way.

Almost Cyborg - Plugging Into Tech

Film Matrix: a choice in your life

My low-tech grandpa tells me the story of when he first got his new TV. This electric magic-box could bring information to audiences more vividly than ever before. He could experience the scenery of his favorite story. Imagine it! Catching the first glimpses of places across the entire globe. I'd guess when biological-electrical implants come along they will seem similar to how my grandpa felt with his first magical TV.

At first the new technology will seem almost impossible, but then the newness will fade. I mean, how different will it be from today? Today, information can be streamed to us anywhere, anytime. I have a few friends who have a cell phone attached to their face so often that they might already classify as part machine! All right I guess it would be cool downloading ninja moves straight into our minds (Oh Neo, how envious I am...).

Today information is everywhere. The information flash flood requires us to be connected non-stop. Smart phones hang around like a lonely switchboard operators from the 1960s. No Siri, I don't want to call anyone right now. This information flow fuels our society. The tricky part is learning how to sift through this endless stream of data and narrow it down to discover what's important. Advances in technology can help you harness the power of this flood of information. I don't have a biological implant to offer but we're getting close!

In this article, I'll offer you tools that allow you to consume so much information that someone may (probably not) classify you as (almost) cyborg.


How to Memorize Everything: Mnemonic Notes


Can you memorize an entire deck of cards in under a minute? Impossible? Memory mnemonic experts routinely accomplish this incredible feat using memory mnemonics. In Moonwalking with Einstein a normal journalist chronicles his journey and eventual triumph in competing in the United States Memory Championships. A normal guy, with an average memory, could train his brain using memory mnemonics to do incredible things: memorize a deck of playing cards in < 1 minute, remember 100’s of digits, and quickly memorize long poems word-for-word. But honestly who cares?

Call me crazy, but I’m not the kind of guy who’s going to sit in his room to practice memorizing decks of cards for months to clock in under a minute (Well, at least I won’t admit in public to doing that :)  ). To me, this is a parlor trick. They certainly entertain people if you ever get interviewed by Jay Leno but the common person doesn’t care about memorizing cards. What about poems? I admit it, I’m not very cultured either. I don’t care about memorizing poems. Perhaps being able to recall a few choice quotes and verses would be nice, but I hardly need to master memory mnemonics for that. Don’t get me wrong, I could imagine myself one day becoming a renaissance man and making the ladies swoon with my mastery of Shakespeare. I'll chalk that up in my list of future New Year’s resolutions (to never accomplish). You get the point. Many people share my frustrations with how today’s uses for memory mnemonics seem pointless.

Memorizing a Semester of Lectures

When I came across memory mnemonics in college, I wanted to make them practical. I was excited about the idea of using them to memorize lectures. Imagine it! An entire semester of lectures neatly stored and cataloged inside my brain. Every test would be an open notes test (my favorite)! History exams would be trivial. Languages, English, Accounting, … almost any subject could be mastered with ease by carrying around mental notes. This idea intrigued me. If I could learn how to do this for college I could employ the same system for learning throughout my life.


Double Your Reading Speed in One Day

Philosophical Hall

I’ve had an on and off again relationship with speed reading. It’s kind of like that girl friend I like, but not enough to keep the relationship going past a month. Or perhaps it’s like that office acquaintance that I can’t get around to hanging out with outside of work. For this article, I decided to get serious on the topic and bought a few additional books.

I’ve read 3-4 books on Speed Reading and a handful of articles (probably much slower than I could have utilizing the information I was reading at the time). I did all of this research to figure out a simple speed reading system that I could use without hours of painful, reading training. I needed a method I could practice while I read in my normal life.

As in everything, what you put into practicing speed reading is what you’ll get out of it. I offer a chart at the end that tells you what speed you can expect to achieve with different levels of serious training. I do have a dream of one day achieving super-reader status. Imagine the sparks flying off your fingers as you race by at 2000 words each minute … 240 pages each hour… 1 book every 2 hours! But for now, I’ll settle for the Clark Kent version.

This article is for readers who like simplicity and want to double their reading speed. That’s easy to do with a few tips. To triple your reading speed or go even faster, I suggest doing a more rigorous speed reading technique as described in Triple Your Reading Speed or my favorite, Breakthrough Rapid Reading . These books separate speed reading steps into a series of exercises that you can master. They also require you to take time to practice the exercises. Now let’s get into the meat of the article.


Conquer Life - The Science of Expertise


The master musician plays his violin to a crowd listening in hushed admiration. The beautiful ballerina prances across a stage, making each movement with finesse. A professional athlete competes for the title in his sport after years of intense training.

What do these stories have in common? They’re all stories from a field of research that seeks to understand expertise. After digging through the scientific studies on expertise, there’s one simple concept that stands out: deliberate practice. On average 10,000 hours of deliberate practice over 10 years is required to bring a person with no skill to the pinnacle of his field. Mastery across many domains has been studied extensively by Anders Ericsson and others like him. The 10,000 hour concept was further popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers which was where I first ran into the concept.

In this article, I’ll explain a few relevant discoveries in the field of expertise research to help you achieve higher levels of performance. I will also question the relevance of a 10,000 hour requirement and offer you hints on how to reduce the time required to achieve expertise.


Think Deeply

IAN_0126Understanding simple truths deeply is a fundamental skill of life. This depth of thought is the bedrock that you set before building mansions of concepts. Without depth, thinking skips like a rock along the surface of your true self. With depth, thinking becomes a volcano inside. Its rolling lava creates peninsulas of habits that extend throughout your life.

In this article, I will delve into effective thinking. I plan on writing future articles to discuss how to improve thinking. Many of the ideas I discuss in this post came from a book I recommend: The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking by Burger and Starbird.


Creative Notes: Mind Maps

mind_map_topI’m a big fan of Mind Maps, as popularized by Tony Buzan. Mind maps are a way of taking notes that allows you to engage your capacity for creativity. This is how I take notes when I feel like doodling or brainstorming.

I prefer using a pencil and paper or perhaps a drawing app on my IPad. Paper is my favorite app (not affiliated). I’ve tested out a few different mind map software applications, but I haven’t been impressed with any yet.


How to Improve Memory


This article series discusses how to improve memory. This series covers four articles describing different ways to improve memory. Click here to go to the first article, or continue reading for a synopsis of the articles.

Healthy Neurons

The first article covers how to improve memory by understanding neurons. Your brain is built from cells called neurons. Since every memory you’ve ever had is stored using these neurons, you can improve memory by strengthening them. Charles Darwin did numerous experiments to determine the size of caged animal’s brains versus wild animals. The wild animals had significantly larger brains than the captive animals. Wild animals are smarter because they deal with more complex environments than caged animals. Click Here to learn about how to improve memory by enriching your environment.

Improving the Hippocampus

Brain scanning science allows scientists to distinguish what functions of the brain occur in what locations. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that deals with memory. Overall, a lack of stimulus in this area of the brain can be observed in people with bad memories. Therefore, scientists believe that you can improve memory by doing activities that stimulate this area of the brain. Click here for 10 ways to stimulate your hippocampus.

Increase Concentration

A memories’ initial impression is incredibly important. Oftentimes, a bad memory is only a lack of concentration while creating the memory. Therefore, improving your concentration can significantly improve memory. Click here for some simple exercises that you can do to improve concentration.

Intensity, Duration, Repetition

If you want to learn how to improve memory, you must learn about improving a memories’ intensity, duration, and repetition. This article will cover various exercises that you can do to improve intensity, duration, and repetition of your memories. Concentration is critical to memorization and can be broken into two important subcategories: intensity and duration. Intensity: The vividness with which you experience a memory. Duration: The duration that the memory lingers in your mind. Finally, we add one final concept to the mix: repetition. Spaced repetition describes the optimum review periods for any memory. By combining duration and repetition with correct review intervals, you’ll be putting your memories into an impenetrable safe that you can access any time (click here to skip to this article).

Let’s get into the first article. Begin here by learning how to improve memory with healthy neurons.

Next Article

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Series: "How to Improve Memory"

Image by Renee McGurk


Welcome! Experience Peak Learning - Improve Memory

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We offer a memory course that teaches you how to improve memory. We'll show you how to memorize people's names, facts about them, numbers, speeches, and other memories you encounter. We'll also describe new techniques that allow you to keep a mental journal and remember anything throughout your day. Unleash your perfect memory with memory mnemonics.

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Try visiting our blog for free advice on  how to improve memory.

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