Learning Useful Knowledge: Self Taught Insights
After formal schooling and education ends, you get to choose what you want to learn yourself. You will not need to memorize what the teacher gives you anymore. Of course, you could choose to go through additional schooling, in which case the curriculum you have chosen would dictate what you would be learning. However, for the most part in adult life, we dictate ourselves what we would like to learn.
Take time away from normal routines to increase learning. It is often quite paradoxical that when you are not actively trying to engage in a particular area in life, you gain knowledge about that area. So, always keep your mind open. Knowledge often pops up when you are studying or learning about something else. Similarly, don't be afraid to take time out doing nothing. That doing nothing may be a significant move on your part because you may suddenly discover an important revelation. In fact, you memory may even improve when you take time to do nothing because you have cleared your mind of distractions, and having an improved memory is definitely conducive to further learning.
Therefore, use some of your energies to read widely, and to explore what you do not normally explore. It is often in those moments that you glean from a long-sought answer to a problem over which you have pondered for ages. For example, you may not have thought that you would read about some of the information covered in the articles on this site when you first looked at their titles. However, you may actually be picking up information that you may want to return to some day for more in-depth studies.
Learn from all experiences. Try to learn from a variety of situations. For example, even in your own city or neighborhood, you can likely glean something new each time you walk out of your home. Take advantage of these experiences. You do not always have to travel to foreign lands to learn something. You can learn it right in your own neighborhood.
No matter what you are doing during each hour of that day, you are devoting that amount of time to gaining experience in that area of life. This is your experience, and the obtaining of it should be valued because the time used to gain that experience is really what a human life is comprised of. Spending that particular amount of time on a particular task makes you that much more expert on that task. This, in fact, is a key part of life: each of us chooses the proportion of time to spend on particular activities, and the cumulative amount of time that we spend on our cumulative activities makes up our life and who we are.
Set limits to your learning. One can always keep learning and remembering, and there is probably no limit to the phenomena from which humans can learn and remember. However, do be realistic and determine how much time, effort, and energy you are willing to learn a new trade or skill. Decide whether you want to learn just a bit of it, be an intermediate user, or an expert in the activity. You will have to allocate your time and resources accordingly. Beyond a certain point, it is probably not too useful to learn too many things, unless that really is your goal—to learn a tiny bit of everything. In order to be an expert or one of the top people in a particular activity, it is undoubtedly necessary to devote as much time to it as you have time for. If that is your goal, you must realize the sacrifices needed.
Thus, this type of learning is a bit contrary to the first two types of learning mentioned here in that you are actually deciding what you want to learn. You are focusing your efforts to learn useful knowledge that you feel will be applicable to you later on. Do remember, though, that whenever you try to learn new knowledge, you will only be able to retain, recall, or execute a certain fraction of that knowledge later on. If you want to recall or retain more of a particular venture, you will likely need to refresh what you had previously learned by reviewing and studying your notes, or re-reading or re-studying what you had read or studied before.
Thus, it is true that the more we learn the better off we will be, but sometimes it is necessary to be selective in what you learn so that you will be able to recall it from your memory or apply it when the time is ripe.
In summary, to learn "useful" things,
A. Take time away from normal routines.
B. Learn from all experiences.
C. Set limits to your learning.
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