In today’s work environment, what you know isn’t nearly as important as how fast you can learn. With new technology emerging at an unprecedented pace, your job security depends upon the speed at which you can adapt and develop the skills your company needs to compete in the global marketplace. The good news is there are proven methods for accelerating your learning. Here are our tried techniques to get you started.

1. Increase Your Reading Speed

Well duh, you might be thinking. Reading faster would obviously accelerate anyone’s ability to learn. But as adults can we really expect to improve enough to notice a difference? According to one of the world’s leading experts on elite human performance, Tim Ferris, the answer is an emphatic YES! On his blog Ferris details how anyone can learn to read 300% faster in only 20 minutes by training their eyes to eliminate inefficient movements and avoid rereading. A few years ago I followed the method and was astonished by how much faster I began to read.

For a slightly different perspective on how to increase reading speed, check out Scott Young’s blog post from earlier this year. Being the voracious learner that he is, Young extensively researched the topic with a critical eye and concluded that training to speed-read is still worth the effort.

Several speed reading apps are also available if you do a lot of reading on a smartphone. I’ve tried nearly all of them, but the two that I’ve found most effective are ReadQuick ($9.99) and Acceleread (Free). If you use these tools as a part of your overall speed reading plan, you’ll see dramatics results in how quickly you can consume new information.

 

2. Focus on the First 20 Hours

Getting off to a good start is crucial for rapid skill acquisition. If you can push through the early stages of frustration that come with learning something new, you will usually hit your stride. In his book “The First 20 Hours,” entrepreneur Josh Kaufman provides a practical guide on how to navigate this beginning phase, and claims that you can learn the basics of any new skill in approximately 20 hours of deliberate, focused effort.

Kaufman does a great job explaining how to deconstruct a complex skill into smaller subskills that are more manageable. He urges the learner to attack the most important subskills first, using a practice regimen built around intense 15 to 20-minute study bursts. Do this 40 minutes a day for a month and you’ll pick up the fundamentals of any new skill. For more insight into these ideas, check out Kaufman’s popular TedTalk:

 

3. Optimize your Environment

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Another basic way to accelerate learning is to optimize your environment. This means turning off distractions and avoiding multitasking, which can be damaging to both your brain and your career. It means mastering your learning tools and making sure everything you need is within reach before you start a study session. It means paying attention to details like room temperature, lighting, and noise levels. It means tapping into your flow state as much as possible when you practice.

And that’s the ultimate goal, really. Getting into the flow. The sooner you get there the faster you will learn any skill.

Here’s a simple way to remember the 3 hacks you need to speed up your learning:

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As always, keep tracking everything you learn through your Degreed profile to give yourself a clear picture of all your skills and knowledge.

You can catch Jedd McFatter on Twitter and on LinkedIn.

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During my morning Twitter session, I noticed Quartz published this article in response to a new report by ZenithOptimedia on how much media we consume daily. The study throws down the numbers on how much time we’re consuming media in some form of internet browsing, television, magazine, or newspaper. It revealing that apparently we all have full-time jobs as Media Consumption Specialists (Mom is so proud).

That’s right, we’re spending 8 hours a day taking in the wonders of the internet, television, and the occasional magazine . I can’t say I’m shocked by that number, although I would never want to see a running counter of exactly how much time I spend on the internet- the thought makes me a bit sick.

When it comes to consuming 8 hours a day of media, one must wonder: So what? Does it count for anything? We’re consuming all of this information and entertainment a day, but are you tracking what you’re consuming?

Take 5.7 seconds to think about the last week and everything you watched or read. My guess is it was a week comprised of podcast episodes, documentaries, YouTube videos, some Wired and Quartz articles, and binge watching Silicon Valley. Was it all a waste?

No way. I’d throw down a pretty penny to bet that you learned something from most pieces of media you consumed (as far as for the educational value of animal Vines, I can’t vouch for that). The point is, media can teach us- and we should be measuring and tracking all of that learning.

Here’s the thing: If you’re spending even a fraction of those 8 hours a day, 56 hours a week consuming articles that may help you with your job, or teach you something about personal finance, or leadership, or even fixing a broken faucet in your house- ALL of that learning matters. You’re progressing and it should count for something.

The beauty of the internet is the vast amount of information at our disposal, and letting all that learning happen without recognition is a shame. I believe in a world where a future job interview would consist in part of talking about what you learned from the most recent 6 months of your media consumption, and how you applied said learning to your life and work.

Degreed also believes in that future, and offers all of us the ability to track and score everything we’re learning. Formal and informal, YouTube and classroom, articles and textbooks– you can score and measure all your learning to get a full picture of what you know.

Think of it this way: you wouldn’t clock in 40 hours a week without getting a paycheck for your efforts, why would you learn for even a portion of 40 hours a week and not have a way to track, measure, and validate what you know. For those of us that aren’t engaged in formal learning, those hours add up, and it’s eye-opening to discover the different topics you’re learning the most about.

Degreed profiles are free, and if you’re in the business of media consumption -and according to the data, we all are- I suggest you get a profile and start tracking what you’re consuming. It’s time to make ALL learning count.

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What are your thoughts on media consumption and education? What do you see for the future of how much media we view a day? Tweet your thoughts @Degreed

Quartz article with data on the ZenithOptimedia report can be found here

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