Learning how to learn

We think ‘learning how to learn‘ is perhaps the most important meta skill you can acquire. Why – because effective learning enables you to effectively respond to change – and your ability to respond to change is the number one (and perhaps only) thing that will determine your longer term success.

Learning how to learn involves a number of skills. Including understanding very clearly how you personally learn (i.e. your learning style), and how to apply well recognised and tested tools and approaches to make acquiring new skills and knowledge effective and efficient.

The thing about learning is that it involves physically changing our body – and in particular, parts of our mind. This is very difficult, because our bodies are designed to conserve energy and to resist change. Once again, this is biological, not psychological. It physically hurts to learn something, and we therefore resist this – we come up with reasons to resist understanding new things.

We have come across a lot of books about learning skills, and subsets of this, like memory, effective reading, deep learning, practice, etc. We have recently come across this online graded course by University of California, San Diego. Worth a look: https://www.coursera.org/learn/learning-how-to-learn

Other resources worth looking into:

  • Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, by Cal Newport (*must read)
  • Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise, by Robert Pool (this guy did the original research into the 10,000 hour thing that then got picked up by Malcolm Gladwell)
  • The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance, by Josh Waitzkin (this guy was the inspiration behind the book and movie – Finding Bobbie Fisher, he was a ‘child prodigy’ at chess, and then studied his own learning to become world champion at a number of things)
  • The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life, by Tim Ferriss (my buddy Tim uses cooking as a metaphor for how to learn things)
  • 59 Seconds: Change Your Life in Under a Minute, by Richard Wiseman (some easy techniques to quickly improve your learning)
  • A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, by Daniel Pink (about 12 years old now and harder to buy, but a fabulous read about why art matters more than science)

Some fun videos..

How to get really good at anything in only 20 hours:-!

Using imagination to improve your memory:-


The information contained in this post is current at the date of editing – 21 April 2023.

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