It’s not how much you practise, but how often

February 12, 2017 by ahmed

 

Like many people, I like to make resolutions at the start of new year. New Scientist reported that only 10% of the resolutions made in January will survive until December. In many instances, it is because new habits were not formed so we can make the necessary changes to our lives.Lots of my resolutions involve learning new things – a language, a new way that I want to behave, a craft I have always wanted to master. I am not alone in saying that I don’t achieve mastery for every resolution that I’ve made over the years, and it’s not without the best intentions.

Psychologist, Ebbinghaus observed that once we learn something, without practice we soon forget.

Did you know that 70% of what you learn is lost within 24 hours after learning without practice?

In 2008 psychologists at Carnegie Mellon University discovered that if you test your knowledge regularly at carefully timed and ever expanding intervals, new knowledge will be retained. The good news is that there is an easy way to retain 70% of what you have learnt for the long term. ?

information-remembered

How do you do this? The research suggests that to learn new things, you need to be able to recall and regularly use what you have learnt.

But what happens if you take a break and don’t use this knowledge often? Will you forget? How long have you got before you need to completely re-learn what you have lost?

he Carnegie Mellon psychologists found that to retain 70% of what you have learnt you need to practice within 1 hour after receiving the information, and then again after 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, and then after 6 months.

My advice is, when planning to learn anything new that you want to become competent in, answer the following questions first,

  • Will I need to use this knowledge within the next few months?
  • Do I have time to practice within 1 day following the learning?
  • Will I be able to practice, or apply this new knowledge 1 week, 1 month and 6 months following the learning?

Unless you answered yes to all, you may be wasting effort and you should change your current plan.

This article has been provided by Michael Voss, Owner of PYXIS & Associate Consultant of COER (Centre for Organisational Excellence Research, NZ)

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