How to Learn Online and Be Really Effective

the instaripper Jan Willem Plug

With the pandemic still raging on most of us are home a lot. Many people work from home. And students and others study from home. Most training and learning has transferred from physical class rooms to online learning. Learning from home comes with many advantages. It enables you to learn at you own pace, any place and any time. And usually, if saves money too. But online learning also comes with some unique challenges. How can you learn online efficiently? How can you remember what you learn, enjoy your training and stay motivated? There are three areas to think about when it comes to online learning: your environment, your state of mind, and your techniques.

Prepare Your Environment to Learn Online

Learning techniques are essential. And learning online really is different from learning in a physical class room. But before you can start to learn properly you need to get your environment ready. If you don’t, it will make it difficult for you to learn and remember.

1. Arrange Your Learning Space

Just like working from home requires at least some form of home office, learning online requires a dedicated learning space. You need a space where you can really focus. To be able to focus and learn you need to feel comfortable. The same is true for online learning. Setting aside a part of your home for learning has two advanges. First of all, it will make you associate that space with learning. That way, you will be less distracted and more open to efficient learning. And second, a comfortable environment for learning will make you associate learning with something to enjoy.

2. Arrange Your Learning Time

It is imporant to schedule your time for online learning. That is especially true if studying is not your favourite thing to do. Arranging time to learn is also a way to motivate yourself and really do it. If you leave things up to chance, will you really start learning? If you set aside time to study, learning will become a habit. And habits make things a lot easier. Once you make learning a habit, it will become a routine. And habits and routines can remain with you and benefit your for the rest of your life.

3. Arrange Your Focus

Your learning space should not have anything in it that distracts you. That means, no other people using the space for work and other activities. No TV. No unnecessary browser tabs on your laptop. And most definitely, no phone and social media. Of course, everyone gets distracted by other things. So think and decide for yourself what you do not want to have around while learning.

Jan Willem Plug learning online

Prepare Yourself to Learn Online

Preparing yourself for online learning is just as important as preparing your environment. If you are unprepared mentally to take in new information your brain will not absorb or not remember what you learn. You may be wasting your time. How can you get into the right state of mind to learn online?

4. Get Into the Right State of Mind

I probably don’t have to tell you that the mood you are in affects how efficiently you learn. The way we learn and memorize things is impacted by our emotional state. Information combined with emotion becomes a long-term memory. Many of us don’t remember what we learned in school because there was no emotion attached to the information.

How can you improve your state of mind? Change your posture or body or breathing. Sit or stand the way you would if you were totally energized. Above all, think about why you are learning. Why are you sitting there to learn online? How will you feel once you have accomplished your goals? How will you benefit in the long run? Will you be able to get a promotion or find a better job? Will your life become easier? Or will you be able to help other people more? Attach those reasons for learning to emotion: joy, relief, surprise, happiness. Remembering your long-term goals and benefits will get you in the right state of mind to learn online.

5. Get Rid of Stress

You cannot avoid stress. But you can do something to reduce it. Feeling stressed will inhibit your learning skills. Stress affects your brain just as much as it does your body. So if you are feeling stressed when you should be learning, take a few minutes to calm down. Do a short breathing exercise to get rid of the stress you are feeling.

Sit down at your desk and close your eyes. Take a deep breath and slowly count down from 10 to 0. Be aware of how you feel yourself getting calmer as you reach zero. Then, for the next 2 minutes just breathe in and out slowly and deeply, and focus your attention on nothing else but your breathing. When you open your eyes, you will feel different. You will be less distracted and stressed and ready to learn. Click here if stress is a common problem for you and want to know how to reduce it.

learning space

Use the Right Technique to Learn Online

Preparing your environment and preparing yourself are essential. Next, you need to use the right techniques to learn efficiently.

6. Take Notes

Taking notes is a super easy way to learn new things. While you watch a video or listen to a teacher talking, taking notes of everything that is important will greatly impact your learning speed and retention. First, taking notes helps you stay focused. Second, taking notes helps imprint concepts in your brain because you are writing them down. And third, it increases retention because you are almost literally looking at the concepts on paper.

After you have finished the video or talk you were listening to, go over your notes while the information is still fresh in your head. Organise them. Copy the key points onto a new piece of paper or your digital notebook. Going over your notes makes it easier to see the big picture of what you are learning. And organising your notes makes you remember them easily.

Do not make things easy on yourself when watching a presentation in which you are provided with slides or notes afterwards. It could be easy to decide to just listen and do nothing else because you already have the information. Some presentors may even suggest that you just sit and listen. But that way, you lose all the benefits of taking notes. So always make it your goal to make your own annotations.

learn online by taking notes

7. Explain It in Your Own Words

One way to learn and to remember things better is to try and explain it to someone else. Especially to someone who knows nothing about the topic. This is called the Feynman technique. It is a learning technique that Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman developed and used himself.

Pretend that you are explaining the topic to a child. You can write it down, say it out loud or explain it in your mind. Do not skip difficult parts. If you are having a hard time explaining something it means your understanding of the concept is not good enough yet. Simplify it and explain it again. Explaining something in your own words forces you to really think about it. If you want to learn something really well, teach it to someone else.

learn online by explaining it

8. Recall What You Learn

Spaced repetition helps you learn better. It is is a system where you quiz yourself to see if you know and remember something or not. The more often you encounter certain bits of info, the less often you’ll need to refresh your memory of it. Repetition is essential if you want to remember things long term. It means reviewing what you have learned several times over a certain period of time. It is the single most effective method to learn and actually remember. I explained this technique more fully in my article How to Learn Faster and Smarter.

How To Learn Online – In a Nutshell

So, even though learning online comes with challenges it is certainly possible. First, prepare your environment. Second, prepare yourself. Third, use the right learning techniques. It’s that easy!

Would you like to know more about learning techniques? Do you like learning new things? Whatever the case may be, learning is essential. Success and fun in our job, relationship, health and even hobbies depends on our continuous learning. You can learn in many ways. You can read books, attend seminars, do courses, talk to experts. We are all quite busy though. Our time is limited. How can you learn more effectively? You do not need a photographic memory. All you need are these stepts to learn faster and smarter.