Thursday, 30 April 2015

Guest Post: 7 Top Tips For Getting the Most From Your Learning By Darren A Smith

Here is a guest blog post from Darren Smith on a subject very close to my heart – how to maximise your learning!

We’ve all been there, attended a one day training course, given a glowing evaluation at the end of the day and skipped out of the training room with a deck of slides scribbled with our notes.
Six months later, in an impromptu desk and drawer tidy-up, you begrudgingly bin the slides with regret that you neither did anything more with the slides or used more than one or two tools from the training course.

This is a shame. 8 hours spent training and the return on investment is negligible. These ‘7 Top tips for getting the most from your learning’ will help you avoid the ‘slides in the bin’ and the ‘feeling of regret’ scenario:

1. Panning for gold
Don’t write on the slides and handouts that you are given. Instead take a clean page, title it ‘Keepers’ and capture on this page the ‘nuggets’ that you want to keep. Your page might only have 10 nuggets on it, but the important thing is that they are your nuggets. This page becomes your sifted golden nuggets.

2. Pragmatist, Reflector, Activist or Theorist?
Know your learning style because like the phrase says, ‘What is the best way to ride a horse? The way it is going’. By identifying and learning in your style you will learn more quickly, learn more and more enjoyably.

3. Mind mapping works
Instead of using Keepers, you could create a mind map. Mind maps are friendlier to the brain because once you have captured your golden nuggets onto a mind map, you’ll more easily & quickly be able to read and understand instantly what you learnt.

4. Spaced repetition
According to the founder of the ‘Forgetting Curve’, Hermann Ebbinghaus, we forget 80% of what we have learnt within 30 days, if we do nothing with it. Setting an Outlook reminder to prompt you to review your keepers/mind maps is essential. Ideally at 10 days after the training course, 30 days and 60 days.

5. What’s in it for me?
Many people ‘rock up’ to a training course with a ‘entertain me’ approach. Whilst the job of the trainers is to be both personally engaging and engaging with the content, you need to know what you want. Be as specific and real as you can, e.g. ‘I want to know how to write an effective to do list that I can use everyday’.

6. Make mistakes
We learn more from the things that we get wrong than the things that we get right. For role plays make mistakes, throw yourself into it. Better to make mistakes on the training course, than at work – ‘Bleed in training, win in battle’.

7. My Learning Buddy
Get with another learner on the training course and agree some simple and practical things that you will do for and with each other. For examples, agree to speak 10 days after the course, for 20 minutes about how you are getting on with your learning, or hold each other to account on a changed behaviour that you wish to adopt.

Darren A. Smith is the founder of MBM – Trainers to the UK Grocery Industry and pioneers of ‘Sticky Learning’.

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