Learning is how human beings evolve. Whether it’s in a professional situation or picking up a new skill or language, the process of learning is essential to growth and development. It can also be a big challenge for anyone who has time constraints to manage or who has gotten out of the habit of regular learning. However, there are many different ways that you can support your learning objectives and take bigger steps towards achieving your goals.
The “forgetting curve”
More effective learning means getting to grips with combating the “forgetting curve.” This is essentially the rate at which we forget information. Research suggests that within an hour, on average we forget around 50% of the information we have just been presented with. Once we reach the point of 24 hours, we have forgotten 70% of that information. And at the point of a week later research shows that the average person has forgotten 90%. Forgetting at this rate can seriously impede achieving learning goals, as we simply don’t retain what we need to reach those objectives. Thankfully, there are some tools and techniques that can help to avoid sliding down the forgetting curve.
Techniques for memory augmentation
Memory augmentation is the process of increasing your ability to retain information so that you can avoid the pitfalls of the forgetting curve. There are a number of ways to support memory augmentation in your learning, including:
Reminders. Repetition and reminders provide a strong foundation for ensuring that you don’t forget what you’ve just learned. Whether you opt for scheduling reminders or going over the most recent learning repeatedly to ensure that you’ve absorbed it all, the more you repeat, the less likely you are to forget.
Memory techniques. As well as repetition there are lots of different memory techniques you can use to help avoid the forgetting curve. For example, writing down whatever you’re learning will not only help you to remember it but also to avoid misremembering. If your style of learning is more visual then try drawing instead of writing. Mnemonics techniques can also be useful for remembering information that might otherwise be challenging to recall.
Technology aids. There are lots of technology tools that help with memory augmentation. Apps such as Evernote, for example, allow you to collect all your learning in one accessible place. You may also want to use an online organiser aid or portfolio. Sometimes, extending learning is simply about knowing where to check the information to reinforce it.
Planning. If you’re too ambitious when it comes to the volume of learning in one session then you may simply not be able to digest and remember it all. Break down your learning into bite sized chunks so as not to overload your short term memory. Try to focus when you’re learning – it sounds obvious but you’ll get much more from the experience if you’re making 100% effort to listen, absorb and be in the room.
Integrating memory augmentation into your learning schedule will enable your time to be spent much more effectively – and help you to avoid the forgetting curve.