Learn More and Remember More
Randy Wolken, President & CEO
To thrive today we must learn more and be able to use it effectively in the future. We can learn quickly – but can we recall it later for our use and to serve others? Generally, we cannot. Why? We typically do not follow the 50/50 rule of learning.
What is the 50/50 rule? Learn for 50% of the time and share/explain for 50% of the time. Research has shown that we can remember up to 90% of what we learn if we explain or teach the concept to someone else or use it immediately. Or as the Roman philosopher Seneca said, “while we teach, we learn.” This rule is how I have developed my own personal rapid learning approach. My blog is a weekly example of the learn, teach and remember method. This article is my attempt to learn new material, teach you how to use it, and then recall it when I need it. I have used this method to change my life and help others, like you, change their lives.
There are many useful ways to use the 50/50 rule in your own life. First, select a time to learn and break that time into 50% learning and 50% sharing or teaching. Second, learn something within the first 50% of the timeframe. Third, share or teach what you just learned with the remaining 50% of time. You do not need an audience to begin. You can just begin. Starting a blog that goes only to your friends – or no one at all – works just as well as having millions of readers. The process requires you to learn to communicate what you have learned. If you prefer, you can create a podcast or just a personal recording to share and teach what you have learned. You can start a personal journal where you write down the key elements of your new understanding. Actually, using pen and paper versus digitally typing has been shown to increase retention dramatically. There are so many ways to learn and share – develop the one that best suits you.
However you choose to do it, just start. The very process of composing the communication creates neurons in your brain that will allow you to use your new learning again and again. Most forgetting involves a rather casual and quick learning of something that never gets used again. If we aren’t careful, this can happen to most of what we attempt to learn in life. Learning, sharing, and teaching can solve this problem. Even if you are sharing it with one person, a few people – or no one. Do it for yourself even if you cannot help someone learn from your learning. The results will make you a better person immediately.
What is your strategy for increasing your learning and remembering? How can you begin to use the 50/50 rule to increase how effective your learning is and to improve recall? How can you help others effectively increase their learning and use of their learning? As we move into 2020, we all will need to learn more quickly and use it more often. Having a new approach can help us all be more successful in the new year.