How To Study Smarter

Alternative mind-mapping techniques for smart studying
The current accelerating pace of change in all areas of life can be very unsettling. It can also be a source of delight and wonder. Regardless of your own attitudes to change, lifelong learning strategies have never been more important. We must rethink how we learn and how we can study smarter, not harder.

In this blog post, we’ll explore how to study smarter in your studies.

The difference between adult learning and school as a child

As an adult learner, your approach is quite different from the way children learn. Knowing this can help you choose more supportive learning strategies. You have a wealth of experience to draw on and connecting learning to your own unique experience allows you to personalise that learning – a significant motivating factor.

You also recognise the purpose of what you are learning. Without that purpose, you will find it difficult to be fully engaged in the learning process. You might discover learning takes more time as an adult, but the value of this is that you will learn at a much deeper level.

It’s also important to be aware that your past learning and experience can act as a barrier to learning new ideas and concepts. As an adult, advanced learning is as much about unlearning as it is about new learning.

How does accelerated learning work?

Accelerated learning can make learning three to four times faster and can increase retention from a usual 2% to an advanced 12% – without the need for speed reading or memory drills. The essence of accelerated learning is that it allows you to relax. Tension inhibits both learning and memory, so while you’re learning, take regular short breaks, play soothing music and have fun.

How to learn advanced learning techniques

Write a personal manifesto

Start by writing a personal manifesto that clearly states your core values, beliefs, what you stand for and how you intend to take personal responsibility for your lifelong education. This process can reveal your long-term ‘why’ and act as a compass on the learning journey ahead.


Have a plan that allows a routine allocation of time and sets clear goals. Using a study planner and harnessing the power of your calendar and organisational skills can be a huge help.

Challenge yourself and be willing to fail

There’s growing research that strongly indicates that failure leads to increased resilience and the ability to take on bigger challenges. Here’s a simple strategy for when you fail:

  • First, acknowledge the failure
  • Second, ask what contributed to the failure
  • Third, ask what could be done in the future to prevent failure and ensure success

Using Smartwatches for Smart Study

Choose a learning modality that suits your learning style

Have you determined how to study for your learning style? This can be helpful to ensure you get the most out of your learning experience. Another great way to set yourself up for success is to consider whether you want to study in-person, online or with a hybrid combination. For example, online learning has made tremendous advances and can be adapted to suit most learning situations and lifestyles.

Join discussion groups

The best discussion groups are those with individuals from diverse backgrounds, with different views and opinions.

Listening to other people’s points of view and engaging in vigorous discussions are potent learning and unlearning tools. Sometimes what we’ve learned in the past can block creativity and innovation, so discussion groups can be useful in developing both.

Handwrite your notes

When you need to take notes – if you have the time – handwrite them. Psychologists have found that writing increases neural activity in certain sections of the brain (similar to the effect meditating has on the brain). Writing can increase thinking, language and working memory. Plus, handwriting slows us down a bit to free up thinking and can boost creativity.

Ways you can study smarter right now


Chunking means breaking down large topics into small, achievable pieces. It has the power to eliminate overwhelm when large amounts of information must be learned.

Multi-sensory learning

Multi-sensory learning is how we naturally learn. Humans take in information through our three main senses – visual, auditory and kinesthetic – and movement and feeling.

  • Visual learning is boosted by using colourful pens and highlighters, pictures, videos, and colourful posters
  • Auditory learners prefer podcasts, audiobooks, reading aloud and background music
  • Kinesthetic techniques are enthusiasm, enjoyment, exercise, dancing and hands-on practical application

Mind mapping

Mind mapping is a way of taking notes using colourful pens, keywords and pictures. It works because this is how our minds naturally work. You might take a little longer to be comfortable with this technique, but persevere and use it your own way. You can’t fail at mind mapping.

Varying your learning environment

Keep changing your learning environment – the more situations in which your brain can rehearse something, the stronger a memory it creates. Besides, our brains love variety! Changing up your learning environment by altering lighting, sounds, smells or the physical location can switch your brain into a higher gear and keep you more focused and engaged.

Package your learning in different ways

Repetition has always been a recognised learning tool. The trick is to find different ways to repeat the information. For example, printing out key information and placing it on the back of your toilet door or shower. Singing the information is another fun and effective method. Recent research shows that repetition can benefit creativity – and contribute to that lightbulb moment.

You can think of this kind of like Mexican food. Almost all recipes use the same ingredients, but by changing up the cooking method and presentation, you can have a burrito, quesadilla or taco. By packaging your learning in different formats like this, you can increase your retention and engage your mind.

Go forth and study smarter

Challenge yourself to get smarter at using these advanced learning strategies today and begin to reap the lifelong benefits across your study and work.


Study Planner Template and Task Delegator Template

Plan your study week, and successfully prioritise your tasks with our templates!

Download the PDF below, and select print.

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