Learning Process: Preparation Through Eight Steps
Before you actually start the process of learning a subject, you need to prepare yourself in all respects. This includes physical preparation as well as getting mentally prepared to embark on your learning journey. The following practical suggestions will go a long way in creating a learning environment.
Step 1. Select A Place And Time
Everyone has their own idea about the best and most comfortable place to study. Whether it is your bedroom or living room or your separate study room, find a space that works for you and stick with it.
Select a place which is relatively free from distractions like telephone, TV etc. If you are a compulsive user of your mobile phone, keep it on silent mode and away from you. However, if you wish, you may check it at hourly intervals and not earlier. If you are able to ignore it throughout your study period, it will be much better.
Keep your study table equipped with necessary essentials such as your books, notebooks, pen and pencil etc. Keeping a flower vase on the table adds to the ambience. Use the same space every time you wish to study. It creates a pleasant and inviting environment and helps in boosting concentration.
It is equally important to stick to the time schedule that you have prepared for yourself. There is no fixed time for everybody. People concentrate as per their habit; it could be early morning, afternoon, evening, or even late at night. Different time slots work for different people, so choose your best time.
Step 2. Study Everyday
Being regular in doing what you do is the key to success. If you are in the habit of having‘on-days’ and ‘off-days,’ then it is difficult for you to learn to do anything well.
Learning is a mental activity which requires that all your faculties need to be aligned and geared towards your objective. To ensure that you are mentally prepared to engage in the learning task, you need to cultivate regular habits.
When you sit down to learn something on a particular day, you set your mood. This needs to continue every day. If you break it, the invisible thread of interest is weakened, and you have again to make extra effort to gain it back.
Take the example of a tennis player. If he/she does not practice regularly every day, he/she becomes rusty and their moves are clumsy at times. Same is applicable to study habits. Whether you are a student or you are employed, it should not be difficult to achieve. Making lame excuses to yourself will hinder your efforts only. Continuity is the key to success.
Step 3. Make A Schedule
Make a weekly schedule of things to learn. You can break it down to daily items so that if you are not able to finish one item on a particular day, you may carry it over to the next day.
However, ensure that whatever was planned for the week is covered during that week even if means that on a day or two you spend extra time in order to cover the unfinished items. A lot of people – particularly students – enthusiastically create a schedule for their learning activity, and proudly announce it to their family that they are now going to follow it rigorously.
But what happens in reality? Most of them simply ignore it after the first 1 or 2 days, and go back to their old haphazard ways. Do not fall into this rut. You have an objective, and it is that you want to develop habits that will help you learn in a better and effective way.
You can do this very well if you have the will power and a strong determination to achieve your aim. For this you will have to sacrifice your easy ways. Nothing in life comes easy – least of all knowledge. And for this, you need to have a practical schedule that you are most likely to follow without any significant deviation.
So make a schedule. Stick to the schedule that you yourself have made. You could maintain a diary or a wall planner stuck on the wall in front of you. Wall planner is always better because you are bound to look at it without making any effort of opening the diary
Step 4. Recognize Your Learning Style
Everyone has his/her own unique way of learning. Some prefer to read aloud to themselves. If you think you can learn better this way, do it.
There is no stigma attached to this. Others prefer to record what they are reading, and then later they listen to the recording instead of reading second time. If it suits you, and you think you can learn better this way, do it.
Some learn better sitting comfortably in bed, some do it on a straight chair, and some do it sitting in a recliner. Still some others learn better if some soft music – preferably classical music – is playing at low volume in the background.
It really does not matter what your favorite style is as long as it brings on the desired results and that you are not only comfortable with it but are also sure to continue with it. What matters is the way that makes you concentrate better. Decide what style or a mix of the two suits you, and then you may adopt the same.
Step 5. Boost Your Motivation Level
Motivation is the will to act. What we call ‘motives’ are the reasons why people act in certain ways. Motivation is the prime factor that contributes to the success of human beings.
According to Shartle (1956), “motivation is the reported urge or tension to move in a given direction or to achieve a certain goal.”
Julius (1975) states, “motivation is the act of stimulating someone or one’s own self to get a desired course of action, to push the right button to get desired action.”
So think of the reasons why you are trying to learn something. You might be preparing for your school exams or pursuing higher education, or you might be preparing for a lecture or a seminar, or you might be studying for a professional examination.
You need to have an aim to achieve – whatever it may be. Decide to focus on that. To remind yourself keep some relevant pictures, photos, posters, quotes etc. around your study area. Nothing works better than visual reminders of what you wish to achieve and why.
Step 6. Take Care Of Yourself
Your mind will work better if you maintain good health. If you have some health issues, your mind will waver and you will not be able to concentrate on the task at hand.
It is rightly said that a sound mind resides in a sound body. So take care of your body. It is the only one that you have.
So take care! Eat light. Drink lots of water and juices. Avoid hard drinks. Consume caffeinated drinks like tea/coffee in moderate amounts.
Step 7. Decide Your Strategies
The above suggestions are likely to be quite helpful to you. However, these are not the only ones that are available to you.
Many people will relate their own experiences to you and advise you to follow the same strategies. But remember that everyone’s mental make-up and environment are different.
So listen to their suggestions and evaluate them in relationship with your specific situation and needs. Then take out of them what suits you and discard others. In fact, you may modify some of these or add your own if you come up with some worthwhile idea.
The main thing is that you plan ahead in such a way that you are able to stick to your plan of action.
Step 8. Take A Break
When you actually sit down to learn something, you don’t have to keep sitting for a long period. If you do so, your concentration will waver.
So decide to take a break after an hour or so (depending on your individual concentration span).
Listen to music, go to the kitchen, have a glass of water or any other suitable beverage, eat something light, or talk to somebody. And then resume your learning activity