How to learn

Notes from the course “Learning How To Learn”

I read the book Mindshift and it was unituitively so good that I decided to take this class. As a parent, I learned a bunch of things that I think will be beneficial to my children’s education.

Notes from class Learning how to learn. These notes are for me and may not make sense for others.

Focused vs Diffused Mode

You can not access focus and diffused mode simultaneously.

People have tried to access diffuse mode of thinking by bringing themselves to the point of sleep and waking up just as they fall asleep. For example, Salvador Dali - holding keys in your hand, and let the sound of keys falling the ground wake you up.

Exercise, going for a walk good way to access diffuse thinking. You must take notes right away b/c diffuse thoughts may evaporate very fast.

Procrastination Memory and Sleep

They advocate the Pomodoro technique to combating procrastination. Its like HITT.

Periodic relaxation (every ~ 30 minutes) is important for accessing your diffuse mode. “Its important for the mortar to dry”.

Spaced repetition (like Anki) is important for building memory. i

Go over what you want to learn about right before you go to sleep, this will substantially improve the chances you will dream about it and form new connections about the subject.

Exercise can help create new neurons in your hippocampus (new neurons can be created there in adulthood) and help them survive longer.

Writing Tips Diffuse Mode

Diffuse mode is very important for writing. Editing is like focus mode and creating ideas is diffuse mode. Some rules of thumb: - Do not outline, make a mind map - Do not edit while you are writing (this is really hard to do -> turn off monitor and just write). - app that forces you to stay in diffuse mode. You really cannot look at the screen. - Repeating again, do not look at screen while you are writing! Only when editing.


“Tying your shoes”. Best chunks are subconscious. Spoken language is the best example of chunking. You have to practice to build chunks, you cannot just observe. You have to perform the task yourself.

You should scan a chapter before you read it: section headings, pictures, etc. This can help you build chunks.

Illusions of competence

Right after you read something, look away and repeat to yourself what you recall. You can also draw a concept map. The recall process actually improves memory.

Recall is better than re-reading. Re-reading is effective when you let time pass so you get spaced repetition. You need to test yourself to make sure you are competent. Recall is a form of testing.

Recall outside your place of study to strengthen your memory. This is because you can get queues from where you are studying.

Deliberate Practice

Focus on the bits that you find difficult. Interleaving is important, meaning learning different subjects or even sections within one subject at once. Thomas S. Khun discovered that two types of people tend to make scientific breakthroughs: (1) young people (2) those who are trained in another discipline.

Procrastination and Memory

You have already learned about the Pomodoro technique. There are other techniques.

Focus on the process, not the product. Don’t focus on completing the homework, focus on the process that leads you to complete the homework. Process is the small chunks of time to chip away at the task. This is the idea behind the Pomodoro. Your only goal is to finish the Pomodoro, for example.

Juggling Life and Learning

You should make to-do list the night before for the next day and write it down. This will allow your subconscious to work on how it will conquer that task. Furthermore, writing it down will allow you to free it from working memory.

Plan your quitting time is important.