7 Techniques To Learn Anything Technical In Weeks, Not Years


Learning anything technical feels like a long and tiresome process. Mathematicians, computer scientists, and physicists spend years at university, trying to hone their skills.  

As such, we’ve collectively come to believe that acquiring these hard skills takes many years of concerted effort. Practitioners must be dedicated to the cause, struggling through and pushing forward, even when things get difficult. 

But what if we were to tell you that there are numerous methods you can use to speed up the learning process and get the job or career you want? That would be shocking, right? 

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Weirdly, though, it turns out to be true. You can learn many of these hard skills quickly, but it requires applying the right techniques. Who knows, you could be a data scientist in just six months with the proper approach. 

The problem with learning is that nobody teaches us how to learn. Many people stick with the same passive techniques all their lives and wonder why they aren’t getting anywhere. Just reading through textbooks gives the impression of taking in information, but it doesn’t really mean something has been learned. That takes more than rote memorization. 

Here’s some advice for speeding up your learning and moving ahead with your education or career.

Make Mistakes Often

When learning something technical, don’t be afraid to make mistakes often. Learning where you are going wrong will help you plot the right path in future problem sets.

When you do fail, try to correct yourself quickly. Note what you got wrong and figure out why. Ask where your reasoning went awry and what you can do to fix it. 

Failing fast is a Silicon Valley motto and principle many people use to grow successful businesses. But it also works when learning. Taking on new challenges and working out where your limits lie can be highly successful. 

Keep Practicing Regularly

You also want to practice regularly. Doing a little every day is better than doing a lot once a fortnight. 

For example, many people find it helpful to do problem sets every day when learning math. These establish patterns of thinking and cause people to continually revisit ideas and gain new perspectives, deepening understanding. 

You don’t have to do that much every day either to have a profound effect. Spending 30 minutes solving problems can help you get a long way ahead of everyone else in your field. 

Love What You Are Doing

Another way to supercharge technical skill learning is to love what you’re doing. Being genuinely curious tells your brain that it is worth knowing the new information so you won’t forget it in the future. 

Don’t view technical learning as “just another thing you have to do for work.” Instead, be curious about how it works and look for ways to generate satisfaction from the experience. You’ll be surprised by how much a small change in your attitude can alter your outlook. 

Find A Tutor

Another approach is to find a mentor or tutor. Many decades of research show that the most effective learning happens in one-on-one situations with an expert. Despite all the advances in other pedagogical techniques, this remains the best.

Tutors, of course, can be expensive, but they are often worth the investment if you are keen to supercharge your learning and get ahead of the competition. You can gain knowledge in months that might take others years to acquire. 

Numerous tutors are available online, so you don’t need to travel anywhere to give lessons. You can also get tuition on specialist subjects in areas of your choice, or use multiple tutors if that’s more helpful. 

Use An Active Learning Style 

Ignore the advice to choose a learning style that suits you. It’s based on outdated science and research ideas. 

The truth is that most people learn best through active means, whether they are oral, written, visual, or practical. When you actually do something, that’s when you thrive. 

This principle applies to nearly everything in life, whether it’s cooking or driving. You can read about these skills all you want in a textbook, but there is no substitute for actually doing them. 

Be active in your learning style by breaking up reading with exercises. Constantly challenge yourself on what you’re learning, even if you don’t feel ready for it. Tackling exercises immediately can be an excellent way to get you to engage in active recall, a technique that improves learning. Even if you’ve only read something once, avoid the temptation to go back to the textbook to get the answer. Don’t give yourself the easy way out. Instead, stick with the question and practice recalling the information you learn. While this technique might sound weird, it seems to work for people who want to learn materials rapidly because it understands how the brain works and remembers things. 

Celebrate Your Triumphs

You can also try celebrating your triumphs. Reflecting on what you’ve achieved can help you see how far you’ve come, motivating you to continue and encouraging you to go all the way to the point where your skills become marketable and valuable. 

Celebrations can also be a potent tactic if you’re the sort of person who loves external rewards. You can drip-feed yourself dopamine hits throughout the learning process to get you to keep following the breadcrumbs toward learning and mastery. You can take time to feel rewarded by the accomplishments themselves, such as solving a new problem or understanding a new complex concept. 

Use A Range Of Resources

Another way to succeed is to use a range of resources to see how educators tackle topics from various angles. Using just one textbook will limit your perspectives and may introduce you to only one form of problem when there are many you might encounter in education and work. 

Try to get different perspectives and look for new and challenging problems. See concepts applied in multiple contexts so you know how to approach solutions if questions are written in a different way. Don’t keep answering questions in the same format identically. 

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