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Quick tips for learning

Christian Marquay Monday 09 September 2019


Learning is not innate but requires specific knowledge. By grouping different articles, we obtain methodologies to put in place to enhance the way the brain works to enable it to better acquire knowledge. In a counter-intuitive way, the organization is only effective if it allows sufficient rest times and if it allows to carry out a limited number of products to accomplish the project.

1 Introduction

We are learning all our lives, and this is especially true in our ever-changing world. There are habits, good and bad, that we put in place during our work. It is important to determine which ones should be favored in order to optimize our learning time and which ones to fight by developing appropriate methodologies. We will first see the focused and diffused modes of thinking [1] to understand how our brains work. We will then focus on ways to combat procrastination [2] and in particular the importance of sleep [3] to evacuate toxins. We will finally get to know the limits of our working memory [4] and to see how to use it well.

2 Focused and Diffused Thinking

There are no geniuses like in Aladdin’s lamp knowing how to do everything thanks to unusual gifts. Successful individuals achieve results through hard work, following methods now recognized as metaphor, story and visualiza- tion, interleaving and focused and diffuse modes of thinking. A person with


a lot of experience in a field can fall victim to Einstellung. This phenomenon consists of valuing a preconceived idea, which leaves little room for innova- tion. There are methods to go beyond that. Today, companies have devel- oped the teamwork to confront several points of view. Team members can have different experiences and have the opportunity to transfer knowledge from another area with a similar problem.

Metaphor, story and visualization are particularly effective ways of making your memory work and remembering various elements in your long-term memory. The brain uses key images or phrases to store difficult concepts more easily. It facilitates the work of the learner. When focused on a specific subject, the focused mode of thinking starts and allows to deepen the subject thanks to the close knowledge. However, we must think about taking breaks between these intensive sessions called Pomodoro. These breaks then allow the diffused mode to record knowledge in long-term memory, and to see it from a new way opening the door to creativity. Interleaving between focused and diffused modes of thinking improves the understanding of a subject.

3 Procrastination, Memory, and Sleep

Procrastination is the fact of not being able to regulate oneself and of pushing things back and forth. This is reflected in particular by doing his work just before the deadline, but also on a daily basis by postponing the bedtime or the time to play sports. The time spent sleeping goes down with the years, but the human body requires at least eight hours of sleep for an adult, and nine hours for a student. This rest period allows the body to clean itself, especially by removing the toxins that poison it. It’s also a time when the brain is transformed, neurons creating new connections between them to reinforce learning. Unsurprisingly, those sleeping the least have the most psychological problems and overweight problems.

To fight procrastination, eat your frogs first. Starting by doing a task for which there is no motivation, the brain will pass the first unpleasant moments and will then be in a logic of work. A good solution then is to program the agenda of the next day every night before bedtime. The brain will take ad- vantage of the time of sleep to integrate the tasks to be done and it is as much time gained by knowing exactly what to do at the time of working. Finally, procrastinators have this failure to participate too late in discussions, or are content to listen to what others say, which gives the illusion of learning by be- lieving that it is sufficient for a good understanding. Participating regularly to learn actively improves outcomes by strengthening neural connections.


4 Chunking

Working memory is a short-term memory that tends to fade quickly as soon as the work session is over. To keep the knowledge gained, the data should be stored in the long-term memory that functions more like a warehouse. The working memory is limited in terms of capacity. It retains only a limited amount of data, but this data can be a group of data as well. Indeed, chunking consists of grouping data into clusters. The working memory can use up to four clusters, called chunks. Beyond this number, the working memory tends to mix the data or to forget them because it is overflowed. This is how we retain an entire course more easily if it is divided into thematic chapters. This amounts to compressing the data.

There are many ways to group ideas into chunks, but they are all equivalent in terms of learning efficiency. In any case, the working memory is limited to a maximum of four chunks beyond which it no longer makes it possible to correctly record all the data in the long-term memory. In fact, what differentiates work in chunking is the complexity of the elements that make up the different chunks. Complex elements will be more difficult to compress in a chunk than simple elements. This supports the usefulness of using metaphors to improve working memory since metaphors have less complexity than the elements to which they relate in addition to allowing visualization.

5 Conclusion

We have seen that learning requires flexibility and perseverance in intensive work sessions called Pomodoro, but also important moments of rest that allow the brain to wander to other subjects and eventually make the con- nection with completely different domains but with similar problems. Our brain is reluctant to perform certain tasks but eat your frogs first and good planning allows it to defeat procrastination. It evacuates toxins and creates new neuronal connections during the sleep phase which is essential for its well being. In the work phase, chunking allows him to better confront complex concepts by addressing several simpler ideas. The first thing you need to do is to apply the methods you think you need.


[1] T. Bertoncelli, O. Mayer, and M. Lynass. Creativity, learning tech- niques and triz. Procedia Cirp, 39, pages 191–196, 2016.


[2] N. Michinov, S. Brunot, O. Le Bohec, J. Juhel, and M. Delaval. Procrastination, participation, and performance in online learning envi- ronments. Computers & Education, 56(1), pages 243–252, 2011.

[3] F. M. Kroese, C. Evers, M. A. Adriaanse, and D. T. de Ridder. Bedtime procrastination: A self-regulation perspective on sleep insuffi- ciency in the general population. Journal of health psychology, 21(5), pages 853–862, 2016.

[4] F. Mathy and J. Feldman. What’s magic about magic numbers? chunking and data compression in short-term memory. Cognition, 122(3), pages 346–362, 2012.