5 proven ways to boost your knowledge retention now

retention

It’s scary to think we waste hours, absorbing new information just to forget it minutes later. What’s the point of learning if we don’t practice knowledge retention? Luckily, there are 5 scientifically proven ways to beat this ubiquitous knowledge retention issue, many of us face, on a daily basis.

Why we struggle with knowledge retention

Before we can meaningfully apply these retention strategies it’s important to understand why our brain forgets new knowledge. This can be explained in two simple points:

1. Our brains get stuck at the first hurdle

When we read a book or listen to a presentation we can miss up to 3 or 4 concepts in just the first few minutes. This is because the brain gets stuck at the first new concept/obstacle. It then tries to apply the new concept but fails. And if you continue to read the book or listen to the speaker. The brain is still focused on the first point and fails to absorb all of the new points, even if you hear them, they don’t get retained. And of course, without complete information, you have ‘incomplete information’.

2. We need to make the mistake, ourselves

No matter how good the explanation and how well you feel you understand the concept. You won’t really grasp or retain the concept until you make a mistake when implementing it. This is because your interpretation will vary from the actual meaning the writer/speaker intends to communicate. You’ve only interpreted what they’ve said, and more often than not, the interpretation is not quite correct. You can only find out how far off the mark you are by trying to implement the concept.

How we best retain knowledge

Some interesting stats about how different learning processes influence our retention.

We retain;

  • 90% of knowledge when we teach someone else/practically apply it, immediately after learning.
  • 75% of knowledge when we practically apply it.
  • 50% of knowledge when we engage in a group discussion.
  • 30% of knowledge when we see a demonstration.
  • 20% of knowledge from audio-visual.
  • 10% of knowledge from reading.
  • 5% of knowledge from lectures.

Read more about the stats here.

Interesting stuff but how we can try to retain more when we are forced to rely on things such as books and presentations? Here are 5 scientifically proven ways to encourage your knowledge retention, even if the learning process is statistically against you!

5 tips to boost knowledge retention

1)Ask yourself questions about the new material

If you are reading a textbook, this can simply be what is the main point of this section?

What are the key discussion points?

Try to answer these questions as you read along the text. Writing the questions and answers down is even more helpful.

2) Engage in reflective learning 

Similar to the above point but more practically focused. When learning new materials you should be constantly be asking yourself “How can I immediately apply what I just learned?” If you focus on how to immediately apply the knowledge to your current job, it will increase retention and positively influence performance/deliverables in a big way.

3) Skim material

The idea here is to skim-read material first and pick up on keywords and concepts that you’ll be covering. This way when you read the material, properly, your brain knows what to expect. And you can organize the new information into your pre-learned headings.

4) Relate new material to what you already know 

In one study, participants who were provided with relevant context linking to previous knowledge, before listening to prose passages were better at knowledge recall later than those who had received no context before.

You can add context for new material as you are learning it, or you can prepare and spend some time thinking about what you already know about the topic before you begin studying.

5) Visualization 

You can connect the new information to visuals in various ways. For example, you can imagine that you are having a conversation with a friend about the new information, you can visualize a story about or even better, you can vizualize practically applying the new information.

 

What’s the one thing you are going to do after reading this blog? Try applying one of the retention techniques and I bet you will retain more from this blog, than most things you have read today.

 

10 ways to influence how we are perceived

perceived

Who we believe we are and how others perceive us, can often be two distinct concepts.

We can never be a fly on the wall to our own personality but we can have a little more control over the self-image we project.

I’m not saying we should be anyone but ourselves, however, by incorporating a few simple tips, we can be perceived in a manner more consistent with who we believe we are.

1. Head high, shoulders back

Whilst the temptation to hunch may be strong, refrain from doing it, it’s terrible for our posture and it strongly communicates that we lack self-confidence. Is this really how we want to be perceived? Pushed back our shoulders makes us appear taller. It’s a power stance that conveys confidence.

2. Make eye contact

Avoidance of eye contact communicates lack of confidence, even deception. It might be difficult to hold eye contact if you’re not used to it. However it’s worth developing this skill, it’s crucial to building trust. Plus, the mental process of looking at people in the eye, naturally makes us feel more confident. We spend less time feeling intimidated and more time focused on the words we are exchanging. Try it out and see how it adds value to your conversations.

3. Ask questions

People love talking about themselves, it makes them feel good. So, if you’re the question master, they will naturally associate you with good feelings. You don’t need to become a detective and interrogate everyone you meet, in fact, quite the contrary, a few simple questions (with a few follows up to show genuine interest) and people will instantly start to like you.

4. Relax your body

If a situation makes us feel uncomfortable, our natural (often subconscious reaction) is to tense up. This isn’t a good look, it makes us appear guarded, unapproachable and perceived as, “highly strung”. I’m certain this isn’t how anyone wants to come across and luckily it can be avoided by simply remembering to physically, relax our body. Make a habit of asking, “is my body tensed, right now?”. Relaxed bodies are perceived by others as confident.

5. Postive self-talk

Perceptions run deeper than just appearances. If we are given a task at work and our norm, is to talk ourselves down, such as, “you can’t do this”, everything we do communicates this to others. People will see our fear and this undermines our competence, regardless of our actual competence. What might not be obvious to us, is SO obvious to others. People can smell self-believe! Well, not actually but, we can’t be aware of all the subtleties we give off when we self-doubt, there is just too many. Instead, a better way to manage, this negative perception is to eliminate our self doubt through positive self talk. Instead of “I can’t”, change to positive affirmations such as “I can” or, “I’ll do my best”. It sounds simple because it really is and it makes the world of difference to your own self-perception.

6. Be kind

Give off positive vibes. Of course, people are going to gravitate towards you, if you smile more than you frown. It’s also nice to be nice! If you don’t want to walk around with a smile plastered across your face all day, then maybe you can focus on your eyes, or be supportive to co-workers when you think they need it most. There’s more than one way to be kind and being perceived as a kind person should be a high priority on anyone’s list.

7. Listen

People will remember whether or not you really listened to them. Listening is not being silent and mentally preparing what you’re going to say next. It’s being focused on the other person and actually absorbing their words. It feels different. People who have mastered listening find it easier to make new connections and build trust in those around them.

8. Fill a room

When we feel intimidated it’s natural to shrink, cross our arms or legs and take up less room. However, simply the act of taking up more physical space (“power posing”), standing taller, stretching out arms or legs, sends confidence hormones to our brains, making us look and feel more confident. I’ve written extensively on the impact of power posing here.

9. Decide on your personal brand

How can you hope to influence your external perception if you don’t have a good idea of how you want to be perceived? Take the time to write down a list self-defining points. A few short positive statements of who you believe you are will suffice. Doing this helps to focus your energy on the right things in social situations.

10. Lead with charisma

The more comfortable you can be in any situation the better. Be your true self and laugh, yawn, stretch, dance – just do you. Research proves that energy is contagious. You can inspire even the most serious of execs to relax around you, if you radiate this kind of energy. Everyone is human after all.  Plus, you’ll hold a positive spot in their brain as a result.

10 skills mastered by the most successful

successful

Success can be measured in numerous ways.

Whether you relate success to happiness, independence or power there is no size fits all, it’s entirely subjective and depends on what you want from your life.

Saying that, success in an inside-out concept. Regardless of individual success definitions, those who attain their dreams, all master these 10 fundamental skills.

1. Communication 

Soft skills divide the average from the successful. Communication is an art, it takes time and dedication to be able to perform. Effective communication relies on the ability to understand, (on a high-level) both others and yourself. This degree of introspection isn’t easy, but it’s the key to being a naturally good communicator. Remember, we have to master our own thoughts before we can hope to understand and eventually influence the thoughts of others.

2. Awareness of thoughts 

Watch how you speak to yourself. Do you allow negative chat, such as “I can’t do this?” Or, “this is going to fail?”. If you don’t believe in yourself how can you that expect others will? Success requires confidence and unshakable belief in yourself. During your success journey, you will encounter people that don’t believe in you so you need to find confidence in yourself and not seek or rely on the approval of others.

3. Flexibility 

Steven Hawkings famously said, “Intelligence is the ability to embrace change”. It’s no wonder that the most successful remain flexible and embrace change. We live in a fast-paced world, we cannot predict or control external factors. The only thing we can do is remain flexible and adapt when necessary. This is what makes leaders and encourages others to trust in them. Change isn’t scary, it’s the future.

4. Make informed decisions

You have to master risk calculation in order to reach success. Without carefully reviewing the pros and cons of your choices you won’t be informed enough to make wise decisions. It’s a simple yet often overlooked process you should be applying to every decision.

5. Be honest with yourself 

The most successful objectively evaluate, everything. Don’t make career/business decisions if you feel they are emotionally influenced. Don’t paint a mistake in a less painful light. Be honest with yourself in every way. This will allow you to properly asses your progress and skills and importantly fully understand who you are.

6.Highly productive

Successful people manage to have a family, a love life, a social life and incredible careers. We all share the same hours. in our day, as Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Opera and Beyoncé so what’s the difference? The key is using your time well. This doesn’t mean working incessantly but it means planning ahead so that you can have routine family breakfasts, meet deadlines and never forget an anniversary. Successful people don’t procrastinate they make every hour count.

7. Read everyday

The most successful read about their industry and more, for at least one hour every day. This helps them to stay on top, spot gaps and seize opportunities. You need to know everything there is to know about your field, in order to dominate it. Discussing the most important points of your industry findings or even writing about them, daily, helps you to really retain the knowledge.

8. Environment matters

Surround yourself with happy ambitious people. They will encourage and support you on your journey. You can also learn things you didn’t realize you needed to learn such as more efficient working styles, industry insights and much more. Co-working spaces are excellent if you’re just starting up. If you’re office based, try to create a supportive group of co-workers, who bring out your best side.

9. Learn from everyone

You can learn knowledge from everyone you meet – even 5-year-olds, I mean it! Those who are willing and open to the minds of others will learn valuable pockets of information that will assist them on their journey to success. Keep your mind open and respect the words of others. Further, treating everyone around you with respect helps you to build a circle of trust.

10. Cultivate and believe in gut feelings

You spend your time collecting experiences. You learn what’s good and what’s bad. You store your experiences in your “gut” and they become intuition. Your gut feeling can tell you if a person is genuine. It can tell you if you’re making a good decision and it can protect you from a variety of things based on your past experiences. Whilst objective, rational thinking is crucial – you’re gut feeling can tell you things that you can’t rationalize but is based on your past knowledge, so don’t disregard it.

Lifestyle habits that boost work productivity

productivity

Productivity is about taking control of your time. You hit your work goals and you enjoy your life, it’s about achieving the much lured after work/life/balance.

In order to take control of your day, there are some simple but effective lifestyle habits you can introduce. By gaining control of your days, you win hours, you can build a life you love and pursue your goals. Create your own win/win by incorporating these easy habits.

Productivity lifestyle habits

1.Write your to-do list before bed

Why? You know exactly what you need to do when you wake up, no time wasting, no forgetting, you can just get up and get on with it.

2. Wake up early

A simple but highly effective way to win hours. Make this extra time your competitive edge. Imagine waking up at 6 am and having at least two extra hours of productivity before you have to go anywhere. Just try it for a week and if it works for you, it won’t be difficult to make this part of your routine.

3. Exercise

Exercise is life. It gives you more energy, it gives you more determination and studies show that it makes you more productive.

As you age, your body generates fewer and fewer brain cells (a process called neurogenesis). However, early research in mice suggests that exercise can help prevent this slowdown. So, people who exercise might have more brain cells as they age, in comparison to their more sedentary peers, obviously giving them an advantage in the workplace.

In the short term, an exercise routine can give you more energy throughout the day. If you’re feeling fatigued and have the opportunity to go the gym, do it. For those of us with less flexible schedules, exercising in the morning, before your workday, can make the world of difference.

4. Write a productivity journal

Start to notice when you procrastinate and what triggers it. Note what time of the day you hit a slump and how best you overcome it. By being self-aware of how you reach “ultimate productivity” you can make the best of your days, every day.

5. Focus on hours, not goals

This not only makes more sense but it drives you to complete more work. I can’t go home until I finish this project, is more productive than, I can go home after working for eight hours, three of which may have involved heavy procrastination.

6. Don’t be afraid of productive breaks

You are not a machine, you cannot keep working until you feel confused or unmotivated. Taking just a 15-minute break can refresh your mind and make you so much more productive for the rest of the day.

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