Those of you who are avid readers of the blog,already know that Iam a huge proponent of doing things the “Smarter Way” as compared to the “Harder Way.”
A reader recently sent the following mail:
Your blog is wonderful! The posts are always very extensive and informative and I have employed many of the techniques described here to improve the quality of my life.
Readers are life-line of this blog so their wishes are of utmost importance.
Ladies and gentlemen,I now present you the ways in which you can accelerate your learning and retain what you read upto 99 percent!
You heard that right and yes, it’s very possible.
HOW YOUR MIND WORKS
I didn’t plan on writing this section of the article initially, because the mind is very complex and it would be a little difficult to put it’s working into a single post.Also, some readers simply don’t want to know the ins and outs of it.They just want to learn techniques and tricks, and that is fine.
If that is you, simply skip this section and proceed to the actual techniques.
Other readers,however,would be interested in devoting a little time to understand the phenomenon of learning and the ways in which mind processes information and,some interesting historical events related to the discoveries about the brain.
This section is for you guys.
Let’s Start With The Basics.
Your walnut looking brain consists of three parts-The Cerebrum,the outermost layer which covers the major portion of your brain;The Cerebellum;and The Medulla.
Cerebrum determines a person’s intelligence,personality,logic and reasoning.
Cerebellum is the smaller part of the brain, located at the back and bottom of the cerebrum and controls all the motor skills such as balance,equilibrium and co-ordination in the movement.
The Medulla,also known as Medulla Oblongata,is loated at the lower portion of the brainstem and controls the involuntary functions of the body such as heartbeat.
When you look at the brain,you observe that it is divided into two
These are called- The Left Hemisphere or Left Brain and The Right Hemisphere or the Right Brain, respectively.
(The partition of the brain into halves is on the Cerebrum.)
These Hemispheres are connected to each other by millions of network of nerve fibres known as Corpus Callosum,which acts as a bridge between the two Hemispheres of the brain and helps in the
communication between them.
Though both the Hemispheres look exactly alike yet they serve very
The Left Hemisphere
The Left Hemisphere of your brain is the part which deals with your intellectual abilities,which include:
•Numbers and Calculations
•Logic and Reasoning and
You may think of it as ‘hard drive.’
It stores all the necessary information and processes them.
Everything you have ever learnt, is stored in the Left Hemisphere of the brain.
Therefore,every technological advancement ever made till today was the act of somebody’s Left Brain.
The Right Hemisphere
The Right Hemisphere is the part which is responsible for things like:
•Images and Colors
Anything and everything that is NOT intellectual,falls under the activity of Right Brain.
That means you can express emotions,form relationships,show love,understand images,and relate with everyone else with the courtesy of your Right Brain.
Therefore it is inferred that the Left Brain keeps the society moving forward by inventing things and Right Brain keeps the society together.
Pretty neat system,if you ask me.
A DEBUNKED MYTH
A while ago,a myth was propounded and popularised that a person is either Left or Right Brain dominant.
That means,he was either more Left Brain dominant, intellectual (scientific) type or he was more Right Brain dominant, the more creative type.
This was all started when a scientist called Roger Wolcott Sperry, did a research on human brain (for which he won the Nobel Prize,mind you), in the 1960s.
Sperry studied patients with Epilepsy.
He observed that fits or seizures of Epilepsy would start at one Hemisphere of the brain and then proceeded to the next Hemisphere and the seizure took it’s full effect.
Sperry treated the patients through a surgical procedure by cutting the brain along the Corpus Callosum.
As mentioned before, the Corpus Callosum connects the two hemispheres of the brain,so when he cut it,the left and right sides of these patients’ brains could no longer communicate and fits no longer would pass to the adjacent Hemisphere.
And amazingly enough,the seizures stopped!
But it came with a cost.
What happened was that the co-ordination between the two Hemispheres,ceased and some ugly problems emerged.
Sperry along with his fellow researcher,Michael Gazzaniga (yes,weird name,I know),put the patients who have their Corpus Callosum cut, through several tests.
Before moving further,let me tell you that brain’s Left Hemisphere controls the RIGHT side of the body (Right hand,Right leg,Right eye,Right ear) and the Right Hemisphere controls the LEFT side of your body(Left hand,Left leg,Left eye Left ear.)
Yes,just the opposite.
Injury on the right side of your head could result in the paralysis on the left side of the body.
Moving back to Sperry and his experiments,(almost forgot Gazzaniga).
It was noticed that when a word was presented to the right eye (with the left eye covered),meaning the word would be processed by the Left Hemisphere-the intellectual side of the brain,the person reported seeing the word.
Now when the person was presented with a word to the left eye,meaning Right Hemisphere processed it,the person reported NOT seeing the word.
It doesn’t end there.
In another experiment,the patients had their left hands in a tray of different objects,with the tray veiled so they couldn’t see the objects.
The patient was shown a word which was one of the objects in the tray.
The word was shown to the left eye,meaning the Right Hemisphere processed it, and commanded the left hand to pick up an object.
Not surprisingly,the object picked by them was corresponding to the word shown to them.
What was surprising though, was that when Sperry and his fellow researchers, interrogated the patients about the word and the object,the patients gullibly replied that they neither saw the word nor they knew why they were holding the particular object from the tray.
After several tests,Sperry concluded that Left Hemisphere of the brain is concerned with the intellectual abilities while the Right Hemisphere is more connected to the persons creative competence.
The myth which spread across the globe after the discovery was that,a person is either Left Brain dominant or Right Brain dominant.
Both the Hemispheres of the brain co-ordinate in the healthy functioning and learning of a being.
What we are going to do,to make your learning on steroids is that, we are going to employ techniques to make full use of both Hemispheres of the brain,and not just left or right.
When you engage both the Hemispheres of your brain,the memorising of the subjects is going to be whole lot easier and the retention of the information is going to be way longer than usual.
By the way,ever heard that you only use 10% of your total brain?
It’s also fiction.You can check more about it here.
THE INEFFECTIVE WAYS
Before I start uncovering the secrets of efficient learning to you,let me clear some bullshits up.These are the ways most prevalent in society and yield minimal results.
It’s funny how most of the things that society hangs on to,are the most ineffective and plebeian.
Also known as “To Rote“, is by far the most ineffective and clumsy way to learn things,let alone retain them to recall later.
The process is very simple-you repeat an information enough number of times (let’s say 50) and you will learn it by-heart.
Very fair,except it has some major drawbacks to it.
The first one is very obvious-it’s boring.
The mind tends to remember things clearly if they are intense and not boring.
To illustrate my point,I want you to recall the activity you were engaged in at 8:30 pm,three days ago.
If you are not prone to any routine activity,then it’s damn hard to recall that.
BECAUSE IT WAS BANAL.
Nothing unusual about it.
Let’s change the scenario here.This time I want you to recall the first time you went out with your girlfriend or boyfriend.
Do you remember that?
Yes you sure do!
You remember it even though it’s earlier than three days ago.
How about the time you broke up?
Oh no! You remember every second of it,don’t you?
Can you recall the conversation you had with your friends last Monday?
There,I proved my point.
Boring things slip out of the mind and so does some boring but vital information that you wish to learn.
Another problem with repetition is that it takes a huge amount of
time to complete.
Now remember, you must repeat a piece of any information close to fifty times if you wish to retain it.
The problem is,it worked in the old days when there was only a text or two,and the entire year to learn.
Today,books have increased massively in size and numbers.
Combine them with the ‘fifty times‘ formula and you have got yourself a horrible situation.
The outdated technique of repetition persists even today.
You can choke yourself blue repeating your texts and still not be sure that you will have learnt it.
What a crappy deal.
Iam guilty of this one.
My father always used to proclaim the fact that ‘writing’ a piece of information that you wish to learn over and over again makes it stick in your brain.
So I did that.
I wrote the questions and answers given at the back of every chapter for a number of times in hopes that I will learn it.
Did I succeed?
I became sure of that fact,when I couldn’t recall something asked in the exam that I had written for over twenty times.
How could this be possible?
Only one possible answer-My father was wrong.
Writing is more awful than repeating something for learning,because of the fact that it consumes more time and is extremely tiresome.
Now,not saying that Repetition and Writing do not work.
But they are very ineffective,consume a lot of time,are trite and don’t guarantee that you will have the information retained.
Therefore it’s better to employ some techniques which are proven to be more efficacious as well as fun.
Yes,leaning is supposed to be fun.
Let’s make it that way…..
THE EFFECTIVE WAYS
I still have no idea as to why a large number of people don’t utilise this technique to make memorisation quick and fun.
It’s not hocus-pocus.
From my own personal experience,let me tell you that visualisation technique is the single most effective way to increase your retention of information to an amazing extent.
What is Visualization?
Visualisation is the act of data representation in a visual form,in your mind.
It is the process of converting the given data or information to
retain,in a visual mode.
Look at the following combination of alphabets and numbers and try to memorise them both.
You got 5 seconds….Go!
*whistle blow*Time Up!!!!!
Now try to recall both the series.
Which one are you able to recall?
You see,you can recall the series of alphabets but not the series of numbers,even though both have the same number of letters (12),is because first series of alphabets make up an image in your mind.
It is an object(an animal,of course) and can be represented visually.
Random numbers,on the other hand, don’t make up any image and hence are hard to memorise and easily forgotten.
The trick here is to conjure images of the data you want to memorise,in your mind.
Convert every piece of information that you wish to remember,into
images,even numbers (including historical dates.)
The technique of visualisation for the purpose of memorisation is based on three facts:
FACT 1: Your mind CANNOT differentiate between a vividly and clearly visualised scenario with the actual events.
You can consider a loophole in the human psychology which is a blessing to us.
FACT 2:Your mind tends to remember things and information that have some meaning to them or images could be made out of them.
If they are tangible,they are easy to learn.
Scientific concepts are hard to memorise because they are not palpable.
FACT 3:Your mind never forgets any given information that is exciting and stimulating to your senses.
Your mind remembers vividly the things that are out of ordinary,the
things you are not prone to experiencing on a daily basis.
This is the reason you remember every accident and amusement that you may have had but forget what you ate for lunch yesterday.
Incidents which create experiences that are intense and which appeal to our emotions, are the ones we tend to remember while everyday routine stuff is forgotten.
In order to learn stuff which are inherently meaningless, you must assign meaning to them.
I,for instance,have an imagery for every number starting from 0.
0–Hero ( Gérard Butler)
So when I have to remember numbers,I have pre-defined images of them and then I make a story out of those images.
The memorisation becomes both uncomplicated and interesting.
THE LOCUS METHOD
One of the best memorisation technique which is based upon visualisation is ‘The Locus Method.’
Allow me to explain it to you.
The Locus Method
Also known as the ‘Method Of Loci’ or ‘Mind Palace’,has been recently popularised by the BBC series character Sherlock Holmes ,although the method has been in existence since ancient Roman and Greek days.It was described by Frances Yates in her book “The Art Of Memory ” in 1966.
Loci (plural of Locus),is Latin for Palaces.
“In this technique,one visualises the structure or layout of a familiar building or a geographical area,then proceeds to walk-through it.
When given the lists of things to be memorised,the items are visualised at sequential locations of the defined ‘loci’.
That’s about it.Very simple yet highly effective.
Try it once.
Visualise your home.
Start at the door and take a trip of your entire home in your mind.
Make the visualisation as vivid as possible.Engage all the senses- sight,smell,sound,taste and touch.
Feel the smoothness of the walls,the aroma of your favorite dish coming from the kitchen,the softness of the couch in your drawing room,play with the water in the bathroom…make it all as real and vivid as possible.
Visualise yourself moving from one room to another observing each room like never before.
Do it before reading further…
Now,I want you to look at the list of items below and memorise it by
Keep in mind the following rules of memorisation by Locus method:
The First Rule Of Memorisation By Locus Method is…
»One room must have only one and maximum of two items.More than that is going to confuse you.
Begin by placing an item per room but keep in mind though, no matter how good you become at it,you must NEVER place more that two (2) items in a room.
Second Rule Of Memorisation By Locus Method is…
»Visualise all the items larger than life.
Even if it’s as small as knife, shoe, or even a damn bacteria,make it bigger…exaggerate them to the half the size of the room.
The bigger,the better.
EXAGGERATION is must!
If you don’t exaggerate the object to be memorised,it is very possible that the item will get mixed with several other objects in the room and you will have a hard time recalling what it is that you placed in the room.
The Third Rule Of Memorisation By Locus Method is…
»Make the visualisation stimulating to your senses.
Okay,now that you have visualised an item,it’s time you make it a little stimulating to your senses.
Make it something that amuses you,scares you,makes you laugh,bewilders you…whatever. Make a mental movie of the item involved in an activity and make it absurd-over the top in every sense of the world.
So for example,if you have to remember something as boring as a pizza,imagine it huge in one of your rooms so that you have to walk over it to get to the next room,and as you walk over it,your shoes stick on it because of all the cheese on it and you struggle with all your might to walk on it.
What about a water bottle?
How would you visualise a water bottle??
Me? I would imagine a gigantic water bottle in my bedroom,pouring water all over the room and I have to swim in it to get to the adjacent room.
MAKE A STORY OF YOUR JOURNEY THROUGH THE LOCI.
Even though it will all sound silly and puerile,you will be amazed at the results it will produce.
And The Fourth And Final Rule Of Memorisation By Locus Method is…
If this is your first time memorising something by visualisation,you have to do it.
This time you got two minutes.Set a timer for two minutes and…Go!!
Now,listen to one of your favourite songs in your phone.
Come back when you are done.
Did you listen to the song? If not,I insist that you first listen to song and then recall the items on the list.This will prove to YOU that the technique does infact works.
Now,take your time and recall all the items you memorised.Retrace your steps through your loci and recall the story you made up and see how many you can recall.
Share your experience in the comments section below the article.
Keywords are the most essential pieces of information in a given data.
A sentence comprises of only single or two key words.The rest of the words are just fillers to convey the information to the readers.
Have a look at the paragraph below…
“Insects, like all arthropods, have no interior skeleton; instead, they have an exoskeleton , a hard outer layer made mostly of chitin which protects and supports the body. The insect body is divided into three parts : the head, thorax , and abdomen .The head is specialized for sensory input and food intake; the thorax, which is the anchor point for the legs and wings (if present), is specialized for locomotion; and the abdomen for digestion, respiration , excretion , and reproduction.
Although the general function of the three body regions is the same across all insect species, there are major differences in basic structure, with wings, legs, antennae , and mouthparts being highly variable from group to group.”
The above paragraph is taken from Wikipedia (Insect Morphology).
The Key-Words from the given paragraph are: Exoskeleton,Chitin,Head (food intake),Thorax(anchor),Abdomen (digestion,excretion and reproduction).
The entire paragraph abated to five simple words,and they are enough to keep the necessary information in your mind.
You don’t need to clutter your brain with all the useless helping words.
Roughly speaking,an average science book contains only 25 percent of the information to be learnt,the rest of the book is filled with paragraphs of examples,exercises and filler words to make you comprehend the subject.
When you are writing answers in the exam,they don’t need word-for-word answers from your text,they just want to know if you have the ideas down.
They want to check if you hold all the concepts right.
Start picking out key-words from the material you read.
Practice it in all your texts.
Then memorise those key-words with the help of visualisation.
Your friends will be amazed at your ability to recall everything perfectly.
The combination of Key-words with Visualisation technique is absolute dyanmite.
REVISIONS NOT REPETITIONS
Once you start picking out Key-words from your subjects and begin memorising them by Visualisation,it’s damn next to impossible that you are going to forget it.
In order to cement the information in your head and have it memorised for long term in your brain,make use of planned revisions.
Revise the information to be retained, FIVE (5) times as follows:
First Revision:- After one day
Second Revision:-After two weeks
Third Revision:-After 4 weeks
Fourth Revision:-After six months
Fifth Revision:-After a year
That’s the formula for long term memorisation.
It should also be noted that every revision that you make,must be through visualisation technique.
Make your visualisations sharper and lively.This will further enhance your recall of the memorised material.
TEACH SOMEONE ELSE
Another great way to make something sink in your mind, is to teach it to someone else.
You become master at a thing when you teach it to someone else.
Whether it’s the scientific concepts and laws, or maths calculus problems,teach others to become proficient at it.
Teach others because at the end,the person who would be benefiting more, is YOU and as a side effect you will be putting good energy into the universe.
Find someone who wants to be taught what you know and begin imparting your knowledge about the subject to your disciple.
Give all the info you have about the subject.Leave nothing.
This improves your knowledge about the subject to it’s core.
What if I don’t have anyone to teach?
Try your pet.Engage him.
If you haven’t got any pets either,imagine a person who is a total noob and it’s your responsibility to make him seasoned,then proceed to educate it.(Make sure that nobody watches you though.)
Another great technique that I have used with a lot of success is
Many of you must have heard of Mnemonics and might have used them yourself to remember certain things.(Remember VIBGYOR?)
There are many types of Mnemonics such as Notes Mnemonics,Music Mnemonics,Image Mnemonics etc. but the one I use the most is the Word Mnemonics.
The technique is to take the first word of the words to be memorised and make a new sentence,phrase or word out of them.
One that you might have learnt was:
“My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Peas” (to remember the order of the planets-Mercury,Venus,Earth,
When you get creative with this stuff you can memorise a great deal of things by using this method.
[Hint:-I used this technique a lot to learn Biochemistry.]
Alright fellas,you now behold some of the most potent methods of memorisation devised by humans, ever.
I always stress to apply whatever you learn because you will see results when you make use of the knowledge you possess.
P.S:- By the way,Iam pursuing my Bachelor’s Degree in Science and
secured 81 percent in the first semester using the same methods I outlined in the article.Topped the second semester (it is considered the toughest semester) with 86 percent and, waiting for the results of the Third Sem now.
This is not to brag but to make you aware of the feats the techniques
above can achieve.
Start implementing the above techniques right away to sky-rocket your grades and let me know about it in the comments section below.
Until Next Time,