Until I'm ready for this new information, I don't absorb it.
By ready I mean both mentally and emotionally. I need a place to store these foreign concepts in my brain but I also need to be in a good state of mind to handle these newfound stressors.
It's usually easier when I've had a good night's sleep and I'm feeling refreshed. However, it can also come at any time of day. For example, just the other night I was wired and couldn't sleep. It was about 10pm and instead of tossing and turning all night I decided to get up and begin on an online course that I had been putting off for months.
For some reason the timing just felt right and I was able to enjoy learning the new content. In the moment all these advanced concepts just made sense and it was no longer intimidating to handle. The new information sunk into my brain instantly and I had multiple "aha" moments, which surprised me greatly.
That's what made me think "why isn't this possible all the time?"
Which lead me to the conclusion that one must be ready for the change otherwise our brains just block it out.
There's no good in trying if you're under stress and emotionally charged; you'll end up disliking the process and won't retain anything. Furthermore, you have to be willing to make mistakes and feel like a beginner again. Even if you've been working with this or that program for the past decade, you still have to accept that these new concepts will be hard.
So, for me when learning new information it boils down to these things:
- Ensure you're well rested or alert
- Be mentally and emotionally available to handle the stressors of learning
- Take it slow and make mistakes, follow along with examples and repeat
- Carve out a time without distractions and just focus on the one thing
- Be a child again, play and tweak things; don't assume you know it all
What about you? I'd love to hear your thoughts!