If you want to learn almost anything easily and effectively, you will want to learn in an environment of complete peace and serenity which means no distractions. When I’m learning, I turn my TV off, I silence my phone, and I turn my music player off on my computer. A lot of my best learning happens at places like the gym where I can listen to something and just focus or when I’m on a plane when I can just do that or when I’m on my computer and I’m learning and I don’t have anything else going.
I used to play music, I used to always have something going on in the background, especially music, and I found that having any kind of distraction throws off the mind. If you remember from those Lumosity brain training games, having any kind of little distractions makes it way harder to learn. When I’m making these lectures, I’m not listening to music, I don’t have the TV on, I’m not trying to take phone calls now or think about what I’m going to do later. I’m just sitting here doing this with you and that’s how the best learning happens.
You’ve got to give your mind a clear playing field. Think of it like this, if you’re going to play a soccer game or baseball or football, whatever your sport is, if you’re going to play that, you probably just want the players that are supposed to be on the field, right? You probably don’t want a bunch of random people walking around in the middle of your game, that would ruin the quality of the game, wouldn’t it? If there were 10 people standing around right in the middle of where your soccer field is and you’re trying to kick the ball and they’re in the way. When you’re trying to do things like TV, music, or messing around with your phone, then you don’t get as smooth and as high quality learning experience because then your mind is trying to process all these things at once – the song lyrics or just thoughts. You want a silent, peaceful mind.
The easiest things you can do is turn off all the distractions. Turn off the TV, turn off your cell phone or silence it. Turn off your music player and just sit there and learn. That’s also an easy way to honestly see whether you like learning something. If you like learning something enough to just learn it and not do anything else, then you probably have a lot of joy learning it. If when you turn off the music and TV, you find this isn’t very fun, I don’t like this, then you’ve got the truth and that’s what you need to know.
I remember in college so many people would try to have the TV on or listen to music or do all these things while they studied, I would grab a book and find a quiet place and just sit there and read that book and I didn’t even have to take notes as much because it was easy to just process the book while it was quiet. You may have developed some of these bad study habits because you tried learning things you didn’t like learning, so you tried to distract yourself from what you were learning which makes it even harder to learn.
When you love what you are learning, you don’t want any distractions at all. Every distraction hurts your learning a lot so break that habit of having a distraction available when you’re learning and be able, like I do when I’m learning something, to try to have as much focus as possible. Just zoom in on what I’m learning and then it effortlessly comes in.