Eight Tips for Effective Self-Study
By: EFG Hermes Media
In today’s world, we often forget that our tablets, smartphones, and computers aren’t just ways to scroll our days away, but are actually useful tools for self-education — a key plank in growing our career ambitions and personal ones.
Be it looking to expand your financial knowledge, polish your presentation skills, or heighten your project management chops, self-education is something employers value in spades. The most important step when beginning an independent learning journey is to establish your purpose. That way, when the daily distractions will come knocking you have a reason and a goal to keep you on track.
But a purpose may not always be enough to reach that goal. That’s why we’ve compiled a few tips to set you up for success on your drive toward expanding your capabilities through self-education.
- Set actionable, attainable goals
When starting your self-learning journey, one of the first things to do is to set goals. These could be long-term goals like becoming fluent in French come summer time and shorter-term goals like learning 10 new words a day. Remember to make them challenging enough to give you something to shoot for every day and to write them down to make sure you stay accountable.
- Prepare an effective studying environment
Not studying in a classroom has both its advantages and disadvantages. Although you can study from the comfort of your own home, it is also easier to get distracted. Invest in a comfortable chair, a laptop, and the books or resources you need and make sure your desk is tidy so once you sit down you’re mentally prepared for the task at hand.
- Find the learning method that works for you
Not everyone learns best from the same mediums. Some might find reading more effective while others might learn more from listening to a podcast or watching video tutorials. It’s important to find what best suits you to maximize the time you allocate to study.
- Take notes
Just like when you were back in school, make sure you highlight the most important information and keep organized notes covering all the material you read, listen to, or watch. This will make sure you keep everything stored in one place and will make reviewing a lot more effective.
- Have a schedule and make sure you study everyday
Although you shouldn’t dread the time you dedicate to self-education, you should remember that it’s still a commitment, not a pastime. Make sure to allocate specific times to study and set clear deadlines. Making a daily commitment to some form of studying, even if it is just for 15 to 20 minutes, will be much more effective than binge studying for an entire weekend to make up for the lost time during the week.
- Don’t assume everything you read is true
These days, ‘fake news’ is a term we come across often. And while it’s misused in most instances, it can be good to keep in mind for self-study. Even when you find the most relevant sources, never assume the things you read are 100% true. In some cases, you might find contradicting information on the same topic from different sources so make sure to do your research, read reviews, and talk to people you know in the field you’re studying to verify information.
- Join online communities of learners
Although studying by yourself can help avoid distractions, there is much to be said about group study. Today, we have access to several online communities where people come together to share information, be that a formal online course offered through a university or online courses through career-development websites. Committing to an online course will not only keep you accountable through set deadlines but can be a fun way to meet like-minded people and learn from them as well.
The easiest way to make sure that you are understanding new material is to start teaching. Try teaching friends or colleagues, become a private tutor, or start offering your own online courses. Not only will you help them acquire new knowledge, but you’ll quickly be able to tell whether you understand the material yourself!