S4EP2:Exploring Effective Note-taking

Autodidactic Podcast Season Four
Autodidactic Podcast Season Four
S4EP2:Exploring Effective Note-taking

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Hello and welcome back to the Autodidactic Podcast. Today we’re going to talk about Mastering the Skill of Effective Note-Taking.

Let’s get started.

Effective note-taking begins with proper preparation and choosing the right method. We will also discuss active listening techniques, structuring and organizing your notes, and the importance of annotations and adding context. Let’s dive into the details.

A. Preparing for Note-Taking

Before you start taking notes, it’s essential to prepare yourself adequately. This preparation phase will set the foundation for effective note-taking. Here are some strategies to consider:

Previewing and familiarizing yourself with the material: Before you begin taking notes, take some time to skim through the content. This will give you an overview of what to expect. Additionally, read any accompanying materials or chapter summaries to gain a deeper understanding of the main topics and concepts. Identify key themes or topics that you should focus on during your note-taking session.

Setting specific goals and objectives: Clearly define what you want to achieve through your note-taking. Determine whether you want to understand concepts, identify key details, or both. Break down the material into smaller sections or topics that you can tackle one at a time. If you have specific questions or areas of confusion, make a note of them to address during your note-taking process.

Gathering necessary note-taking tools: Choose a method of note-taking that suits your preferences and learning style. Ensure you have the appropriate tools readily available, whether it’s pen and paper or digital devices. If you prefer digital note-taking, consider using note-taking apps or digital styluses that allow you to take notes seamlessly.

B. Choosing the Right Note-Taking Method

There are various note-taking methods available, each with its strengths and weaknesses. Understanding these methods will help you choose the one that aligns best with your learning style and the nature of the content you’re engaging with. Let’s explore some popular note-taking methods:

Overview of popular note-taking methods: We will briefly describe the Cornell Method, Outline Method, and Mind Mapping. These methods offer different approaches to organizing and structuring your notes, catering to various learning preferences and contexts.

Exploring the strengths and weaknesses: Each note-taking method has advantages and limitations. We will discuss factors such as organization, ease of use, and visual representation of information to help you understand which method may work best for your needs.

Selecting a method that aligns with your learning style: Assess your personal preferences and learning strengths. Consider the subject matter and the type of information you’ll be taking notes on. Choose a note-taking method that complements your preferred style of learning, allowing you to capture information effectively and make meaningful connections between ideas.

C. Active Listening and Selective Note-Taking

Active listening is a crucial skill when it comes to effective note-taking. By actively engaging with the material and selectively capturing key points, you can enhance your understanding and the quality of your notes. Here’s how you can develop active listening skills and engage in selective note-taking:

Developing active listening skills during lectures or presentations: Stay engaged and focused on the speaker or instructor. Practice techniques such as summarizing key points in your mind as you listen. Take note of verbal cues or emphasis on important information, as they often indicate key concepts or main ideas.

Identifying and capturing key concepts, main ideas, and supporting details: Listen for overarching themes or main points being discussed. Identify supporting details, examples, or evidence provided to support these main ideas. Develop your own system of abbreviations, symbols, or shorthand to capture information efficiently and quickly.

Avoiding verbatim transcription and focusing on essential information: Resist the temptation to write down every word that is said. Instead, focus on capturing the essence of the information. Paraphrase and summarize the content in your own words, ensuring that you understand the material rather than simply transcribing it.

D. Structuring and Organizing Notes

The structure and organization of your notes play a crucial role in your ability to review and comprehend the information effectively. Here are some strategies to create a clear and logical hierarchy for your notes:

Creating a clear and logical hierarchy for note organization: Use headings and subheadings to categorize information and create a sense of structure. Establish a clear hierarchy that reflects the relationships between ideas. Consider using indentation or bullet points to denote levels of importance or subtopics within your notes.

Using headings, subheadings, and bullet points for structure: Label different sections or categories within your notes using clear headings and subheadings. Utilize bullet points or numbered lists to break down information into manageable chunks. Employ indentation or formatting techniques to indicate levels of importance or hierarchy within your notes.

Employing visual cues, symbols, and formatting techniques for clarity: Enhance the clarity and visual appeal of your notes by using symbols or icons to represent recurring themes or ideas. Utilize highlighting or underlining to emphasize important points. Experiment with colors, diagrams, or other visual elements to enhance understanding and create visual connections between concepts.

E. Annotating and Adding Context to Notes

Annotations and additional context added to your notes can provide deeper insights and aid in understanding when reviewing them later. Here’s how you can effectively annotate and add context to your notes:

Incorporating personal insights, connections, and examples: Alongside the main content, add your own thoughts, reflections, or interpretations. Make connections between different concepts or ideas within your notes to deepen your understanding. Include relevant examples or real-life applications to provide context and illustrate the practicality of the information.

Highlighting important points, questions, or areas requiring further clarification: Use various annotation techniques such as highlighting, circling, or using asterisks to draw attention to crucial information within your notes. Write down questions or areas where you need further clarification. Flag areas that require additional research or follow-up to ensure you revisit them later.

Linking notes to related materials or external resources: Refer to additional resources such as textbooks, articles, or websites that provide further insights or context on the topics you’re studying. Include hyperlinks or references within your notes to easily access supplementary materials. Connect ideas or concepts in your notes to relevant external sources or references for a more comprehensive understanding.

In this section, we discussed strategies for effective note-taking, including the preparation phase, choosing the right note-taking method, active listening techniques, structuring and organizing your notes, and the importance of annotations and adding context. By implementing these strategies, you’ll be well-equipped to take comprehensive and meaningful notes that will aid in your learning and retention of information.

Section III: Enhancing the Effectiveness of Your Notes

In this section, we will explore strategies to enhance the effectiveness of your notes. By reviewing and consolidating your notes, combining note-taking with active recall techniques, and supplementing your notes with additional resources, you can deepen your understanding and improve your retention of information. Let’s dive into the details.

A. Reviewing and Consolidating Notes

Developing a regular review routine for reinforcing learning: Schedule regular review sessions to revisit your notes. Spacing out the review sessions, such as reviewing notes after a day, a week, and a month, can help reinforce memory retention. Allocate dedicated time for reviewing and consolidating your notes to ensure you maintain a strong grasp of the material.

Summarizing and condensing notes to capture the main ideas concisely: Extract key concepts, main ideas, and important details from your notes. Write concise summaries or outlines that capture the essence of the material. Condense your notes into a more manageable format for easy reference and review, focusing on the most critical information.

Revisiting and revising notes based on additional insights or further study: Update your notes with any new information or insights gained through further study or research. Incorporate any clarifications or further explanations you’ve obtained to ensure accuracy and clarity. Continuously refine and improve your notes to reflect your growing knowledge and understanding.

B. Combining Note-Taking with Active Recall Techniques

Using note-taking as a foundation for active recall practice: Engage in active recall by attempting to retrieve information from your notes without looking at them. Test your knowledge and understanding by answering questions based on your notes. Use your notes as prompts to generate explanations or summaries without referring to the original material, strengthening your memory recall.

Testing yourself on the material using the notes as cues: Create flashcards or practice quizzes based on the content of your notes. Quiz yourself periodically using the information in your notes, actively recalling and applying the knowledge. Apply active recall techniques to reinforce learning and strengthen memory retention.

Engaging in self-quizzing or flashcard exercises to reinforce learning: Utilize digital flashcard platforms or create physical flashcards to aid in self-quizzing. Challenge yourself to recall information from your notes through flashcard exercises. Repeat the self-quizzing process regularly to reinforce learning and identify areas for improvement.

C. Supplementing Notes with Additional Resources

Exploring supplementary materials to enrich notes: Seek out additional resources such as books, articles, or videos that expand upon the topics covered in your notes. Use reputable sources to deepen your understanding and gain different perspectives. Take supplementary notes or annotations from these resources to complement your original notes and enhance your overall knowledge.

Incorporating relevant visuals, diagrams, or multimedia content: Find or create visual representations, such as diagrams, charts, or graphs, to supplement your notes. Incorporate multimedia content, including images or videos, that enhance your understanding of the material. Visual aids can help illustrate complex concepts or relationships within your notes, making them more accessible and memorable.

Incorporating external sources for cross-referencing and expanding knowledge: Include references or hyperlinks within your notes to external sources. Cross-reference your notes with relevant materials to gain a broader understanding of the topic. Explore different perspectives or opinions from experts in the field to deepen your knowledge and foster critical thinking.

In this section, we explored strategies for enhancing the effectiveness of your notes. By reviewing and consolidating your notes, combining note-taking with active recall techniques, and supplementing your notes with additional resources, you can reinforce your understanding, strengthen memory retention, and broaden your knowledge on the subject.


In today’s episode, we delved into the world of effective note-taking and explored various strategies to master this essential skill. Let’s take a moment to summarize the key points we covered.

We began by discussing the importance of preparing for note-taking. Previewing and familiarizing yourself with the material before taking notes helps you gain an overview and identify key topics to focus on. Setting specific goals and objectives for the note-taking session ensures that you have a clear purpose and direction.

Choosing the right note-taking method is crucial, and we explored popular techniques such as the Cornell Method, Outline Method, and Mind Mapping. Each method has its strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to select one that aligns with your learning style and the nature of the content you’re studying.

Active listening and selective note-taking go hand in hand. Developing active listening skills during lectures or presentations allows you to capture key concepts, main ideas, and supporting details effectively. Remember, it’s essential to avoid verbatim transcription and focus on essential information by paraphrasing and summarizing in your own words.

Structuring and organizing your notes help you create a clear and logical hierarchy. Using headings, subheadings, and bullet points aids in organizing information and indicating levels of importance or subtopics. Employing visual cues, symbols, and formatting techniques enhances clarity and understanding.

To enhance the effectiveness of your notes, we discussed the importance of reviewing and consolidating them. Regular review sessions reinforce learning, and summarizing and condensing your notes helps capture the main ideas concisely. Revisiting and revising your notes based on additional insights or further study ensures accuracy and continued improvement.

We also explored the synergy between note-taking and active recall techniques. Using your notes as a foundation for active recall practice and testing yourself on the material strengthens memory retention and understanding. Engaging in self-quizzing or flashcard exercises reinforces learning and aids in identifying areas for improvement.

Supplementing your notes with additional resources further enriches your understanding. Exploring supplementary materials, incorporating relevant visuals or diagrams, and cross-referencing external sources provide different perspectives and deepen your knowledge on the subject.

In conclusion, note-taking is a skill that requires practice and consistency. By applying effective note-taking strategies, you can enhance your learning experience and improve your retention of information. Remember to stay engaged, be selective in capturing key points, and organize your notes in a way that makes sense to you.

To further explore the world of note-taking, here are some recommended readings and additional resources:

“How to Take Smart Notes” by Sönke Ahrens

“The Sketchnote Handbook” by Mike Rohde

“The Notetaking Bible” by Jesse Showalter

“Effective Note-Taking” by Rick Dearman

Popular note-taking techniques include:

Cornell Method: A structured approach that divides your notes into three sections: cues, notes, and a summary.

Outline Method: Organizing your notes using headings, subheadings, and bullet points to create a hierarchical structure.

Mind Mapping: Creating visual diagrams that connect concepts and ideas in a non-linear format, stimulating creativity and associations.

Remember, the more you practice and experiment with different techniques, the better you’ll become at mastering the art of note-taking.

Thank you for joining us today, and we hope you found this episode informative and insightful. Start implementing these strategies in your learning journey and witness the positive impact they can have. Remember to visit my website: autodidactic.info to get the transcript and links to resources.

My Book On Note-Taking

S4EP1: Goal Setting and Planning

Autodidactic Podcast Season Four
Autodidactic Podcast Season Four
S4EP1: Goal Setting and Planning

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Hello and welcome back to the Autodidactic Podcast. It has been a while since I’ve done a season and I apologise, but I’ve been learning new stuff.

In today’s episode I’m going to cover self-learning and topics include, Goal Setting and Planning, Developing Effective Study Habits, Leveraging Technology for Learning, and Leveraging Technology for Learning, and much more. In this episode we’ll touch on these briefly, but over the course of this season we’ll explore self-learning in a lot more detail. I’ll put the transcripts of each episode with the others on my website autotdidactic.info.

So let’s get started with Goal Setting and Planning:

Setting clear and specific learning goals is essential for successful self-learning. It’s time to define what you want to learn and, more importantly, why you want to learn it. Take a moment to reflect on your passions, interests, and aspirations. What knowledge or skills do you want to acquire?

Once you have a clear goal in mind, it’s important to break it down into manageable chunks. By dividing your goal into smaller, actionable steps, you create a clear roadmap to follow. This helps prevent overwhelm and allows for steady progress.

To ensure your goals are effective, consider using the SMART framework. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Let’s break it down further:

Specific: Be specific about what you want to achieve. The more precise your goal, the easier it is to work towards it.

Measurable: Set measurable criteria to track your progress. This allows you to see how far you’ve come and stay motivated.

Achievable: Make sure your goals are realistic and attainable. While it’s great to aim high, setting unattainable goals can lead to frustration and demotivation.

Relevant: Ensure your goals are relevant to your overall aspirations and align with your interests and values. This ensures that your learning journey remains meaningful and purposeful.

Time-bound: Set a deadline or timeframe for achieving each goal. Having a timeline creates a sense of urgency and helps you stay focused.

Now that you have your specific goals in mind, it’s time to break them down into actionable steps. Identify the key milestones or steps needed to achieve your goals. This allows you to create a clear roadmap for your learning journey.

Creating a timeline or checklist can be immensely helpful in tracking your progress. By visualizing your goals and the steps required to reach them, you can stay organized and motivated. Consider using calendars, apps, or productivity tools to plan and track your schedule. These tools can help you allocate dedicated time for learning in your daily or weekly routine.

Remember, it’s important to prioritize tasks based on their importance and urgency. Not all tasks are equally vital, so focus on the ones that will have the greatest impact on your learning goals.

By setting clear and specific goals, breaking them down into actionable steps, and creating a study schedule or learning roadmap, you lay the foundation for a successful self-learning journey. Now, let’s move on to the next section: effective learning techniques.

When it comes to self-learning, employing effective techniques can significantly enhance your understanding and retention of new information. Let’s explore some valuable strategies:

Active learning methods: Engaging in hands-on practice, discussions, and interactive activities is key. Actively immerse yourself in practical exercises, experiments, or projects relevant to the subject you’re learning. By doing so, you’ll gain a deeper understanding and develop valuable skills. Additionally, participate in group discussions, join study groups, or engage in online forums to exchange ideas and perspectives. Teaching others or explaining concepts to someone else is an excellent way to solidify your own understanding.

Using varied resources: Broaden your horizons and explore different mediums to gather information and perspectives. Don’t limit yourself to just one source. Read books, articles, or research papers related to your topic of interest. Take advantage of online courses, video tutorials, podcasts, or documentaries. Each resource offers unique insights and can deepen your understanding from different angles.

Incorporating spaced repetition and review: Regularly reviewing and revising previously learned material is crucial for long-term retention. Use spaced repetition techniques to reinforce your knowledge. Flashcards or spaced repetition software can be effective tools for this purpose. Test your knowledge periodically by challenging yourself with quizzes or practice questions. This reinforces your understanding and helps solidify the information in your memory.

By actively engaging in learning through hands-on activities, discussions, and teaching, using varied resources to gather information, and incorporating spaced repetition and review into your study routine, you can optimize your self-learning experience. These techniques will enhance your understanding, retention, and application of the knowledge you acquire. Next, let’s explore the importance of developing effective study habits.

Developing Effective Study Habits:

Creating a conducive learning environment is essential for effective self-study. Let’s explore some strategies to optimize your study environment:

Find a quiet and comfortable space: Identify a dedicated area where you can focus without interruptions. It could be a quiet corner in your home, a library, or any other peaceful environment that allows you to concentrate on your studies.

Minimize distractions: Turn off notifications on your devices and limit internet browsing during your study sessions. Keep your phone on silent mode or place it out of sight to avoid temptations. Organize your study materials, tools, and resources in a way that they are easily accessible, reducing the time spent searching for what you need.

Managing distractions and staying focused: Practice techniques like the Pomodoro Technique, which involves working in focused bursts with short breaks. Set a timer for a specific period (e.g., 25 minutes) and work intensively during that time, then take a short break (e.g., 5 minutes) to refresh your mind. Repeat this cycle, and adjust the timings based on your preference and concentration span. You can also use website blockers or apps that limit access to distracting websites or apps during your study sessions. Additionally, employ mindfulness or concentration exercises to improve your focus and concentration.

Utilizing time management techniques: Effective time management is crucial for productive studying. Break your study sessions into shorter, focused blocks of time. For example, you can study for 45 minutes to an hour and then take a 10-minute break. Set timers or use time management tools or apps to track and optimize your productivity. These tools can help you allocate specific time slots for different subjects or tasks, ensuring you make the most of your study time.

By creating a conducive learning environment, managing distractions, and utilizing time management techniques, you can maximize your study efficiency and create an atmosphere that promotes deep concentration and effective learning. Now, let’s explore the role of technology in self-learning and how you can leverage it to enhance your educational journey.

Leveraging Technology for Learning:

In today’s digital age, technology offers a multitude of resources and tools to enhance your self-learning journey. Let’s explore how you can leverage technology effectively:

Exploring online learning platforms and resources: Research and utilize reputable online platforms that offer courses and educational content. These platforms provide a wide range of subjects and learning materials tailored to your interests and goals. Take advantage of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) that offer free or affordable courses from renowned universities and institutions. Additionally, explore websites, blogs, and forums dedicated to self-learning and educational resources. These platforms often provide valuable insights, discussions, and additional learning materials to supplement your studies.

Utilizing productivity tools and apps for organization: Technology provides various productivity tools and apps that can help you stay organized and manage your learning materials effectively. Use note-taking apps or digital organizers to capture and organize your study notes, research findings, and important information. These tools allow you to easily access and review your materials whenever needed. Employ task management tools or to-do list apps to track your learning goals and progress. These tools help you prioritize tasks, set deadlines, and monitor your progress towards achieving your learning objectives. Additionally, consider trying productivity apps that assist with time management, focus, or habit formation. These apps can provide reminders, timers, or techniques to improve your study habits and boost your productivity.

Using technology for research and accessing educational content: The internet is a treasure trove of information and resources for self-learners. Leverage search engines to conduct research on specific topics or concepts you want to explore further. Make use of digital libraries and academic databases that offer a vast collection of scholarly articles, research papers, and publications. Access e-books, audiobooks, and podcasts to broaden your knowledge and gain different perspectives on the subject matter. Engage with online communities, webinars, or virtual conferences that provide learning opportunities and allow you to connect with like-minded individuals.

By exploring online learning platforms, utilizing productivity tools, and leveraging technology for research and accessing educational content, you can tap into a wealth of resources that can enrich your self-learning experience. Technology serves as a powerful ally in your educational journey, enabling you to expand your knowledge and skills with ease. Now, let’s delve into the importance of self-assessment and feedback in self-learning.

Engaging in Self-Assessment and Feedback:

Self-assessment and feedback play crucial roles in your self-learning journey. Let’s explore how you can effectively engage in self-assessment and seek valuable feedback:

Regularly evaluating progress and adjusting learning strategies: It’s important to reflect on your learning journey and regularly assess your understanding and progress. Take the time to reflect on what you have learned, how well you have grasped the concepts, and whether you are moving closer to your learning goals. Identify areas where you need improvement and be willing to adjust your study methods accordingly. Set milestones or checkpoints along the way to track your advancement and ensure you are on the right path.

Seeking feedback from mentors, peers, or online communities: Sharing your work or progress with trusted individuals can provide valuable insights and constructive feedback. Seek out mentors who can guide and offer expertise in your field of study. Engage with peers who share similar interests or are studying the same subjects. Their perspectives and feedback can offer fresh insights and alternative viewpoints. Additionally, participate in online communities, forums, or social media groups dedicated to self-learning. These platforms provide opportunities to seek input, ask questions, and gain feedback from a wider audience.

Reflecting on successes and areas for improvement: Along your self-learning journey, it’s essential to celebrate and acknowledge your achievements and milestones, no matter how small they may seem. Recognize your progress and the effort you have put into your learning. Celebrating successes helps to motivate and reinforce your dedication. Equally important is identifying lessons learned from both successes and failures. Embrace the valuable insights gained from your experiences and use them as stepping stones for growth. Continuously strive for improvement and embrace a mindset of continuous learning and personal development.

Engaging in self-assessment and seeking feedback are powerful tools that can enhance your self-learning experience. By evaluating your progress, seeking input from mentors and peers, and reflecting on successes and areas for improvement, you pave the way for continuous growth and improvement in your learning journey. Now, let’s move on to explore the mindset necessary for effective self-learning.

III. Mindset for Self-Learning

A. Cultivating Curiosity and a Growth Mindset

Cultivating the right mindset is essential for successful self-learning. Let’s explore how you can develop a mindset that fosters curiosity and embraces growth:

Embracing a love for learning and exploration: Nurture your curiosity by actively asking questions and seeking answers. Maintain a sense of wonder and fascination with the subject matter you are studying. Stay open to new ideas and perspectives, as they can enrich your learning experience and broaden your knowledge.

Recognizing challenges as opportunities for growth: Embrace difficulties as opportunities to learn and develop resilience. Rather than being discouraged by challenges, view them as chances to expand your understanding and skills. Shift your perspective and see mistakes as valuable learning experiences that contribute to your growth.

Overcoming the fear of failure and embracing mistakes as learning experiences: Adopt a mindset that treats failures as valuable feedback. Understand that making mistakes is a natural part of the learning process. Learn from your mistakes and use them as stepping stones for improvement. Develop a healthy attitude towards errors, recognizing that they provide opportunities for growth and deeper understanding.

By cultivating curiosity, embracing challenges, and learning from mistakes, you develop a growth mindset that fuels your self-learning journey. This mindset encourages continuous improvement and enables you to approach your studies with enthusiasm and resilience. Now, let’s explore some practical tips for maintaining motivation and staying committed to self-learning.

B. Developing Self-Discipline and Motivation

Developing self-discipline and staying motivated are crucial aspects of successful self-learning. Here are some practical strategies to help you cultivate self-discipline and maintain motivation:

Setting intrinsic motivations for learning: Take the time to identify your personal reasons and values that drive your desire to learn. Connect your learning goals to your long-term aspirations and passions. When you understand the intrinsic rewards and benefits of self-education, it becomes easier to stay motivated and committed to your learning journey.

Creating a personal reward system or incentives: Set up a system of small rewards or incentives to motivate yourself after completing tasks or reaching milestones. These rewards can be as simple as taking a short break, treating yourself to something you enjoy, or engaging in a favorite activity. Celebrate your progress and achievements along the way to maintain motivation and discipline.

Building self-discipline through habit formation: Establish a routine that incorporates regular learning sessions into your daily or weekly schedule. Start small and gradually increase the duration or intensity of your study sessions as you build momentum. Use habit-tracking techniques or apps to monitor your progress and reinforce your learning habits. By consistently engaging in your learning routine, you develop self-discipline and make learning a natural part of your life.

By setting intrinsic motivations, creating a personal reward system, and building self-discipline through habit formation, you empower yourself to stay motivated and committed to your self-learning journey. These strategies provide practical ways to overcome challenges and maintain consistency in your studies. Now, let’s explore the importance of reflection and self-care in the process of self-learning.

C. Embracing Resilience and Persistence

Embracing resilience and persistence is key to overcoming challenges and staying motivated throughout your self-learning journey. Let’s explore practical ways to cultivate resilience and persistence:

Overcoming obstacles and setbacks in the learning process: It’s important to expect and accept challenges as natural parts of the learning journey. Recognize that obstacles and setbacks are opportunities for growth and learning. Develop problem-solving skills to effectively tackle obstacles. Be proactive in seeking support or guidance when facing difficulties. Reach out to mentors, peers, or online communities to gain insights and strategies for overcoming challenges.

Cultivating a mindset of resilience and determination: Foster a positive and optimistic outlook, even in the face of challenges. View setbacks as learning experiences that provide valuable lessons for improvement. Cultivate perseverance and tenacity in pursuing your learning goals. Embrace the mindset that setbacks are temporary and that you have the ability to bounce back stronger. Develop resilience by acknowledging your progress and focusing on the long-term benefits of your learning journey.

Celebrating small wins and progress along the way: It’s important to acknowledge and appreciate incremental achievements and milestones. Take time to reflect on your progress and growth, no matter how small. Celebrate small victories to boost your motivation and maintain momentum. This can be as simple as treating yourself to something you enjoy or sharing your achievements with others. By celebrating small wins, you reinforce a positive mindset and fuel your determination to continue moving forward.

By overcoming obstacles, cultivating resilience and determination, and celebrating small wins, you develop the ability to navigate challenges and stay motivated in your self-learning journey. Remember, resilience is a skill that can be developed and strengthened over time. Now, let’s move on to explore the importance of reflection and self-care in the process of self-learning.

D. Seeking Continuous Improvement and Adaptability

To continuously improve and adapt in your self-learning journey, it’s important to adopt a growth mindset and embrace new ideas and perspectives. Let’s explore practical ways to seek continuous improvement and adaptability:

Embracing a growth mindset and seeking constant improvement: Adopt the belief that abilities and intelligence can be developed through effort and dedication. Embrace challenges as opportunities to stretch and grow, rather than obstacles to avoid. Actively pursue ongoing learning and improvement in various aspects of your life, not just in your chosen field of study. Cultivate a mindset that values continuous growth and lifelong learning.

Being open to new ideas and perspectives: Cultivate a willingness to explore diverse viewpoints and alternative approaches. Engage in discussions or debates that challenge your existing beliefs or assumptions. Seek out experiences or learning opportunities that expose you to different perspectives, whether through reading diverse literature, attending seminars or workshops, or engaging in conversations with individuals from different backgrounds. Embracing new ideas and perspectives broadens your understanding and enhances your ability to adapt and innovate.

Adapting learning strategies based on feedback and changing circumstances: Be flexible and willing to adjust your study methods based on feedback or new information. Recognize when a different approach may yield better results or when circumstances require a change in strategy. Embrace change and adapt your learning strategies to suit evolving circumstances. Stay attuned to feedback from mentors, peers, or online communities, and use it as valuable input for refining your learning approach.

By embracing a growth mindset, being open to new ideas and perspectives, and adapting your learning strategies based on feedback and changing circumstances, you foster a mindset of continuous improvement and adaptability. This allows you to stay relevant and effectively navigate the ever-changing landscape of knowledge and skills. Now, let’s move on to the conclusion of this episode.

IV. Conclusion

In this episode, we have explored various strategies and mindsets for successful self-learning. We discussed the importance of goal setting and planning, effective learning techniques, developing study habits, leveraging technology, engaging in self-assessment and feedback, cultivating curiosity and a growth mindset, and embracing resilience and persistence. We also highlighted the significance of seeking continuous improvement and adaptability in your self-learning journey.

We encourage you, our listeners, to implement these strategies and mindsets in your own learning endeavours. Remember to set clear and specific goals, break them down into manageable steps, and create a study schedule or roadmap to stay organized. Embrace active learning methods, utilize varied resources, and make use of technology to enhance your learning experience. Develop effective study habits, seek feedback, and regularly assess your progress.

Additionally, cultivate curiosity, embrace challenges, and view mistakes as opportunities for growth. Set intrinsic motivations, create a reward system, and build self-discipline through habit formation. Embrace resilience, celebrate small wins, and stay open to new ideas and perspectives. Seek continuous improvement, adapt your learning strategies, and foster a growth mindset.

To further explore these topics and continue your self-learning journey, we recommend exploring additional resources and readings. Look for books, online courses, or educational websites that align with your interests and goals. Engage with online communities, attend webinars, or participate in virtual conferences to expand your knowledge and connect with like-minded learners.

Remember, self-learning is a lifelong journey, and your dedication and commitment to continuous growth will lead to fulfilling and enriching experiences. So, go forth with enthusiasm, curiosity, and a thirst for knowledge.

I hope you enjoyed today’s episode and I’d like to thank you for listening.

S3EP6: Dealing with Demotivation

Autodidactic Podcast Season Three
Autodidactic Podcast Season Three
S3EP6: Dealing with Demotivation

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Hello and welcome to episode 6 season 3 of the autodidactic podcast.

So this season is about my destupidification project, and I want to be completely honest with my listeners. I am struggling. In the last episode I talked about time management techniques and prioritisation. This is because I needed to re-prioritise and to reduce the amount of time I spent on the project.

I can tell you this simply has not worked. Although the time management techniques are effective and I can use the time which I had made available, the main issue at the moment is my energy levels are very low. So in this episode I want to try and delve into what you can do when, like me your motivation has fallen off a cliff, but you still want to soldier on.

In this weeks episode I will look into the things to do in order to get your motivation back and I’ll report on my progress on the YouTube channel. I hope that if you’ve encountered the same problem with over commitment and lack of energy this podcast will be of use to you.

The first thing to try is some introspection and discover why you’ve lost your motivation to study. In my case it is fairly obvious. I’ve got a new, highly pressured job and it sucks up a lot of mental energy. In addition, I’m tired and not sleeping regularly enough. But demotivation is a category of problems, containing many variations. So you need to look below the surface of the problem and try to tease out all the de-motivators if you’re going to be able to eliminate them.

There is a long list of potential demotivators, and it is only after you identify and eliminate them all that you’ll be fully motivated and ready to go again. Here are some demotivators to look for:

  • Fear – you might be going outside your comfort zone, and it is causing you anxiety which in turn is a demotivator.
  • You’ve got the wrong goals – If your goals aren’t clear, or your not aligned with them, they can become a demotivator.
  • Occupation about the future – If yo’re worried about what might happen tomorrow, then you can’t focus on today and your immediate goals.
  • Fatigue – You may simply need more rest. If your overburdened, demotivation rears its ugly head when we’re extremely tired.
  • Being overwhelmed – One of the major causes of lack of motivation is feeling overwhelmed. If you just have too much, and you feel defeated by the pile of things to be done.
  • Procrastination – the more you set your tasks aside, the more demotivated you get. And, without enough motivation, your output will also suffer.
  • Impatience – Wanting to be done can demotivate you. When impatience affects our motivation, we are even more prone to quitting.
  • Lack of progress – Not seeing any visible progress towards our goals and ambitions can be extremely demotivating.
  • Lack of flexibility – If you are doing the same thing day in and day out then for some people the lack of variation will become a de-motivator.
  • Conflict – If your goals, ambitions, study plans are in conflict with your lifestyle or values then it can demotivate you.
  • Mental illness issues – for example, dysthymia, which is a low-grade form of depression that leaves the individual able to engage in their day but still provides the classic symptoms of fatigue and lack of motivation.
  • Physical Illness – you might be sick or have some type of physical ailment which is causing your lack of demotivation
  • Self-Sabotage – you’re capable of achievement and are purposely sabotaging yourself and prevent yourself from moving forward.

After you have identified what the problem is, then the solution is normally self-evident. If we look closely at the list then we can see the types of remedies we need to use.

  • Fear – To get motivated, you need to deal with your fear. Start by naming your fears so that they’re out in the open. You need to put them on trial. After you name the fear, write it down to make it concrete, then argue the case for the defence. Ask questions like: What is the chance of that really happening? What’s the evidence that the thought is true? That it’s not true?

  • You’ve got the wrong goals – Have a look at the goals. Are they too large, not well enough defined. Unrealistic? Try to change them into SMART goals. A SMART goal is used to help guide goal setting. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Therefore, a SMART goal incorporates all of these criteria to help focus your efforts and increase the chances of achieving your goal
  • Occupation about the future – First, you need to determine if your worries are actionable. If the worry is solvable, then start brainstorming solutions. If it isn’t then you need to accept the uncertainty.
    You can try these 3 steps to stop yourself from worrying.
    • Create a “worry period.” Choose a set time and place for worrying. It should be the same every day (e.g. in the living room from 5:00 to 5:20 p.m.) and early enough that it won’t make you anxious right before bedtime. During your worry period, you’re allowed to worry about whatever’s on your mind. The rest of the day, however, is a worry-free zone.
    • Write down your worries. If an anxious thought or worry comes into your head during the day, make a brief note of it and then continue about your day. Remind yourself that you’ll have time to think about it later, so there’s no need to worry about it right now. Also, writing down your thoughts—on a pad or on your phone or computer—is much harder work than simply thinking them, so your worries are more likely to lose their power.

    • Go over your “worry list” during the worry period. If the thoughts you wrote down are still bothering you, allow yourself to worry about them, but only for the amount of time you’ve specified for your worry period. As you examine your worries in this way, you’ll often find it easier to develop a more balanced perspective. And if your worries don’t seem important any more, simply cut your worry period short and enjoy the rest of your day.
  • Fatigue –Many cases of tiredness are due to stress, not enough sleep, poor diet and other lifestyle factors. You can try some of these tips to fight the fatigue.
    • A good way to keep up your energy through the day is to eat regular meals and healthy snacks every3 to 4 hours, rather than a large meal less often.
    • Even a single 15-minute walk can give you an energy boost, and the benefits increase with more frequent physical activity
    • If your body is carrying excess weight, it can be exhausting. It also puts extra strain on your heart, which can make you tired. Lose weight and you’ll feel much more energetic.
    • Tips for sleeping well include:
      • going to bed and getting up in the morning at the same time every day
      • avoiding naps in the day
      • taking time to relax before you go to bed
    • Stress uses up a lot of energy. Try to introduce relaxing activities into your day.
    • cut out caffeine
    • Cut down on alcohol before bedtime. You’ll get a better night’s rest and have more energy.
    • Sometimes you feel tired simply because you’re mildly dehydrated. A glass of water will do the trick, especially after exercise.

  • Being overwhelmed – It’s probably the most common mistake that people make: they try to take on too much, try to accomplish too many goals at once. You cannot maintain energy and focus (the two most important things in accomplishing a goal) if you are trying to do two or more goals at once. You have to choose one goal, for now, and focus on it completely.
  • Procrastination –
    • Procrastination is less about avoiding a task than avoiding the negative emotions associated with that task.
    • Procrastination is rooted not in laziness, but in perfectionism, anxiety, or fear of failure.
    • Building momentum by tackling smaller tasks first can help to rebuild confidence to meet larger goals.
  • Impatience and Lack of progress – These often go hand in hand. This is a frequent problem for language learners who reach the dreaded intermediate plateau and don’t seem to be progressing. But if you evaluate your skills and knowledge realistically you will see that you have made progress even if it has only been a little. You need to manage your expectations as well to make sure you’ve got realistic goals.
  • Lack of flexibility – Change up what you are doing. Study something else for a little while. Take a break, find a different way or place to study.
  • Conflict –You need to unpack your values conflict and play mediator. You have to get the parts of you that are advocating for different values to play on the same team again. Start with acknowledging the internal conflict.
    Grab a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle so that you have two columns. Write about the two different directions you feel pulled in, one in each column, and summarize it with a statement of what each part wants.

    Now, pick one column and chunk it up: “Why does this part want that? What does it hope to get as a result of having that?” Keep asking the questions and writing your answers until you feel that you’ve hit on the result that this part of you ultimately wants. Now do the same for the other part, and notice when you get to the level where the answers in the two columns are the same.
  • For both Mental illness issues and Physical Illness it is best to consult a health professional
  • Self-Sabotage – For many of us, our self-sabotage behaviours and beliefs are rooted in our feelings of self-worth. Figuring out what is causing you to self-sabotage will help you to focus on the specific changes to stop these behaviours.

    Fear tends to be the main cause of what holds us back. We fear that our inner critic is right; we believe that we don’t deserve happiness, aren’t tough or bright enough, or we just don’t have it in us to be a success in life. These thoughts and self-limiting beliefs are not helpful, and your negative dialogue needs to become a very slight whisper that you can hardly hear. So the section on overcoming fear is useful to listen to again.

That is all for this week, a very short episode. I will be looking at my own demotivators and give up dates on my YouTube channel. I hope this episode has been of some help to you in overcoming demotivation if you encounter it.

If you have any comments or suggestions please feel free to comment on the website, autodidactic.info or on the YouTube channel. I try to respond as quickly as I can. You can also email me at rick@autodidactic.info .

I will put a link to the YouTube channel in the show’s transcription and show notes on the website.

S3EP5: Management of my time

Autodidactic Podcast Season Three
Autodidactic Podcast Season Three
S3EP5: Management of my time

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Hello and Welcome to the Autodidactic Podcast Season three, episode five. In this episode, I want to cover time management. I covered this in episode two of season one. But it’s become more relevant to me recently since I started a new job and I’m in the middle of my destupidification project.

And finding time to study is becoming more and more of an issue time management. When you’re going to study, you’re going to have to find time to study and do this effectively. I’ve tried to use most of the basic time management techniques and try to find ways to steal time to allow myself to carry on working on the destupidification project.

One of the first things that I did was prioritization, I needed to determine how much time I had each day and how much time each of the study periods were going to last and how much I could study during that time. And from that I whittled away at the things which I had planned to study. So originally my list was quite large and very comprehensive, but I’ve cut that right back to only studying one or two things and this is the things that I consider a priority at this time and things that I want to learn.

In my previous podcast, I talked about doing prioritization using four quadrants where you have a bottom line called urgency and then a left line going up as importance and then you plot where this particular item is on that chart. I didn’t go through all of that sort of formal exercise since I more or less knew what I wanted to study and of course as I’m doing this audited tactically by myself as a self learner. I don’t have any external influence that I have to take into account. One of the problems that you have is that you have to fill in the time with larger chunks of work before you fill in the time with smaller chunks of work. And so what I decided to do was try to fill the largest amount of time I had with my study period. So the largest amount of time I have at the moment is actually my commute into an out of work. And so I have used that time to study and or read.

So one of my objectives is to read more literature, English literature and I’ve used that commute time to do that. I’ve also used to commute time to read PDFs and some study time. This is because I have a tablet which I can use to read PDFs and I’m generally okay with studying on a train time management as I’ve pointed out in the earlier episode isn’t really about managing time, it’s really about managing yourself because you can’t actually manage time. You can’t borrow it, you can’t sell it, you can’t buy it, you can’t loan it out, you don’t get interest on it.

So really it’s self management is what we’re talking about here. There was a suggestion that I thought of myself which was, well I could get up a bit earlier in order to study but on days that I commute that is not really acceptable to me since I get up very early anyway. And so I just don’t see the point of getting up at four am because I’ll be half asleep and I won’t actually get much use out of this study period. So for me studying on the train is one of the best solutions and where I can’t do that, I try to study at my lunchtime or I try and fit in half an hour in the evening. Now one of the solutions that I have is mentioned in in the previous podcast, which was dead time and these are times when you’re sort of standing in a queue waiting for a coffee or when I’m standing waiting for a train or whatever.

Sometimes this dead time can work for me if I use something like Anke, which is a spaced repetition software to prompt me and reminded me of questions and things. So that is useful to try and fill in the dead time. One of the other things I found useful was I have a program called FB reader which is a free ebook reader is what it stands for and it’s an app I can put on my phone and in it, I can read e books. So I have downloaded some english literature Shakespeare and I can just open my phone and look at it and read and review it. I have read the whole thing but now I’m just sort of going back and looking at it and reviewing and thinking about it. I’ve also used this sort of dead time to try and recall phone numbers, birthdays, that sort of thing because if you’ll remember parts of my destupidification project was trying to memorize personal phone numbers and details about my friends and family. So those sort of spaces, those little snippets of dead time. I do try and use those up for either my memorization or sometimes for reading the bulk of my study time is actually on the commute.

And although it is not as silent and focused as you would get if you were sat at home with a desk, I can do it and I find that it is useful for me. So I’ll continue to do that on the subjects that I use. The only problem that I have with this is the tools that I used to read and study on the train. Don’t have some of the things that I would use at a desk.

I don’t have the program with the highlighting software. I don’t have access to my files where I write down the prompts and things. So here I’m just using an old notebook and noting down things that I will later put into my quizzes when I get back to my desktop and things that I will highlight when I get back to my desktop. It’s not the best way to do it, but it gives me a bit of time and it helps me carry on, even though I’m very, very time constrained during this period.

So that’s what I’m doing at the moment. I hope you’re enjoying this series. If you have any suggestions or you feel like giving me feedback about the show, please email me at rick at auto didactic dot info. And I’d like to thank you for taking the time to listen to this podcast because I know that we all have things we need to do and I’m glad that you’ve made me part of your time management. Thank you for listening and I hope you enjoy the show.”

(This transcript was computer generated. Apology for any errors)

Associated YouTube video about last weeks progress.

S3EP4: Creation of quizzes and exams to test yourself.

Autodidactic Podcast Season Three
Autodidactic Podcast Season Three
S3EP4: Creation of quizzes and exams to test yourself.

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Hello and welcome to episode 4 season 3 of the autodidactic podcast. I’m sorry about not getting an episode out last week. I recently started a new job and I just didn’t have time to record an episode. Nor did I manage to edit and post the YouTube video. The show isn’t sponsored or paid for, so really it is just best endeavours. However, I should be able to keep up the weekly schedule, although I don’t know if I’ll be able to always manage to get it out on the Tuesday.

It seems that I need to work on an episode about dealing with sudden changes to your study schedule. I’ve had to cut my ambitions back drastically with regards to the amount of things I’m going to be studying in the next few weeks. I’ve decided that I will carry on the memorisation tasks since they are straightforward, and I’ll keep the literature reading. This is because I can do this on my commute and hopefully will not have a lot of impact. The textbook study will become more difficult, but I plan to keep at least one science topic active.

However, most of the other topics will have to wait, and I’ll try to pick them up later. The good news is that I can still apply the learning and self-teaching techniques to the smaller scale of topics I’ll be studying. This means I can still show you how I am doing and what I am doing with the method I am using.

This week I want to look at how to develop quizzes to give to yourself each study period, but also use these quizzes to generate a test/exam for yourself at the end of each book. This is very straightforward.

I personally use a couple of methods for generating these questions. Let me describe the one which I use with textbooks first. Typically I’m going to be using the book in sections, normally chapters. So I create a folder for the textbook on my computer and start with a text file called Chapter1questions.txt and Chapter1answers.txt.

As I read through the chapter and review I build up questions and answers. I open the two files on my computer and then type the question into the file and then the answer in the other file. This allows me to later concatenate all the chapter files together into one long examination and I can also combine all the answers into one answer key.

You might want to just have one file to keep all the questions in, and one other file for the answers, but I find that breaking them up into small sections for quizzes and combining them later to generate a long exam works better for me.

When I complete the chapter one question and answer files I will leave it, then the next time I start to study I just open the question files for the last section I was one, in this example Chapter one. Save that file as a Chapter1quiz.txt and type my answers into that file. I can then compare with the answer file and review the things I got wrong.

When I create the questions I am typically using the information which I have highlighted in the book. For example if I highlight a header which is: “Areas of misuse in a biological environment.” then I simply change the header into a question: “Name the 10 areas of misuse in a biological environment.”

You can make your own questions easily from the material you have studied, but when you make them there are some things to remember:

  • Don’t make the answer yes or no. This is too easy and doesn’t force you to recall the information
  • Don’t use multiple choice for the same reason as above. Open ended questions are always best.
  • Fill in the blank questions can be useful, but should be limited.

To encourage better questions, think about and focus on some of the tougher or more important concepts you encountered in the lesson, and then propose questions that start with “explain” or that use “how” and “why” framing.

Take a page out of project-based learning and ask driving questions such as “Why do leaves have different shapes?”

Open ended or essay format questions are excellent for measuring higher level cognitive learning and overall comprehension of a subject. When writing good open-ended questions, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Be sure that the test question clearly states the answer you are seeking. For example, ‘explain an election outcome’ is a poor question.
  • If you are looking to test comprehension, a good opening line for the test question is, ‘Explain the following…”
  • If you are seeking to test the student’s ability to analyse a concept, a good opening phrase for your test question is, ‘compare and contrast…..”

I am also trying to memorise things and here I have a different approach. I need to have a set of prompts and then I fill in the answers. For example I am memorising all the squares from 1 to 100 and to prompt myself to recall them I just printed a paper with the numbers 1 through 100 with one number per line and I tried to write the square down beside each number.

But to do it the other way from the square to the square root I can’t just list the numbers, because they would be in order and I could just count up or down. So in order to test myself going from squares to square roots I need the prompts to be in a more or less random order. So to do this I use excel and create a random number field beside the answer and then sort it by the random number and print the prompts.

So when you are trying to create recall questions you should only need the prompt.

That is all for this week, a very short episode, but hopefully I will be able to get back to doing a longer format show next week. If you have any comments or suggestions please feel free to comment on the website, autodidactic.info or on the YouTube channel. I try to respond as quickly as I can. You can also email me at rick@autodidactic.info .

I will put a link to the YouTube channel in the show’s transcription and show notes on the website.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to record a YouTube video for the previous episode.

S3EP3: Textbook study and markups

Autodidactic Podcast Season Three
Autodidactic Podcast Season Three
S3EP3: Textbook study and markups

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Welcome to the audodidactic podcast season three, episode three. If you’re a new listener welcome aboard and if your a returning listener welcome back.

In season one I covered a lot of the methods regarding how to be an autodidactic, and in season two I covered autodidactics of the past and some of the methods they used for self learning. This season I’m doing a series called “My Destupidifacation”. I will be using all of the techniques and methods I’ve discussed previously to show these techniques in action. However, since a lot of the techniques require some elements that are best shown visually I decided to show what I’m doing on my YouTube channel.

I’ve really been struggling to do all of the study for this season and all of the projects I have ongoing. I counted up all the projects I have and I’ve got 21 project in trail right now. You may be aware that I write books both fiction and non-fiction. I’ve got two fiction books to complete which are already twelve months over due, and I’ve got a non-fiction book proposal to complete before the end of next month. I’ll put some links in the show notes if anyone is interested.

Later in the season I’m going to try and cover off some time management techniques I’ve been using, but also show how to prioritize and juggle some tasks.

However, this week on the Autodidactic podcast I’m going to look at textbook study, and creation of quizzes for yourself as you learn.

I’ve done two complete episodes on textbooks studies in season one. Episode seven and episode eight are both about studying textbooks. I recommend you listen to both of these if you haven’t already done so.

In season one, episode seven I discussed how to read a textbook to increase comprehension and retention of information using one of the three different study methods I described. These three methods were: P2R, SQ3R and S-SUN-R. There are probably at least a dozen different systems developed to help students understand what they read, and they’re all very similar but these are three of the most popular. You probably want to use a combination of these methods.

The first one we’re gonna talk about is a three step approach called P2R (or Previewing, Reading and Reviewing) and it’s designed for textbooks from easy to average level of difficulty. This isn’t for the really difficulty or information dense textbooks, but easier level or average level.

The first step is to preview a chunk of the textbook, e.g. ten pages, one section, one chapter. Something small and defined. You skim through this section, reading the section headings, or first sentence of the paragraphs, anything in bold print or italics, have a look at any figures, tables or charts. While you are doing this note down any questions this might bring up. You’ll try to look out for answers to your questions when you start active reading.

Once you’ve previewed, write down any information you gleaned while previewing Right yourself some sample questions, write a brief summary of what you think you’re going to get and then move on to active reading.

During active reading you are typically highlighting things, or putting notes in the margins, or writing in your notebook. Keep in mind when you’re when you’re highlighting. You’re just trying to highlight things that will be useful and relevant in summary later.

After you’ve completed your chunk of reading or at the end of the chapter, you need to review and do something to reinforce the important information. Now there’s a number of ways that you can review the text material, but the four most common ones are.

  • First, you look at your highlighted entries or the notes, and you read them aloud. You write questions in the margin of your text or notes at the end of each chunk, and then when you finished reading the entire chapter, you recite the answers to your questions
  • Secondly, used the headings to recite the key information on cover the details with your hand and then recite using only the headings as a clue.
  • The third ways to do some or any exercises or questions they may have at the end of chapter. Many textbooks have this sort of thing, at the end of chapters.
  • And finally, you can take the end of chapter tests or online test to review and monitor what you’re learning.

You can use SQ3R for more complex textbooks, but you can also use it for the easy ones.

SQ3R was developed by a fellow called Frances Robinson in 1941 on is probably one of the most widely taught system. SQ3R is an acronym for Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review. And this time we have five steps.

the five steps are:

Survey- you survey the chapter before you read it. You go through the chapter quickly, you glance at the headings, you read the final paragraph to get a general idea and the main points so very similar to the previous method and then question.

Question – Before you begin to read each headed section of your chapter, you turn the heading into a question. For example, you may have a heading “housing population” and so you would typically turn that into a question.

Read – So the next step is to read the material underneath the heading to try and find the answer to the question which you generated. Turning heading into a question helps you focus your reading, and the reading in this section helps you locate the answer to your question. Hopefully, and so you’ll get actively involved in the reading material. As you read the selection, see if you can answer your question and then the next bit is recite.

Recite – So at the end of the section the headed section, recite the answer to the question that you formulated. Recite the answer in your own words, though, so that it’s a summary without looking back at the text. And if you can’t recall part or all of the answer, then go back to the section again and then try and jot down the answer in a sort of an outline or a summary form. But don’t take any notes until you’ve read the entire section, and then the next step, the final step is review.

Review – So after you finished reading through entire chapter, look over the notes that you made to familiarize yourself with the important information and then check your memory by covering up your notes and reciting the main points out loud, and then cover each point in your notes and recite subordinate points that you’ve noted. So this type of review should only take five minutes because you’re only review in a very small subset of what you’ve, that you’re only studying a small subset.

The final system I want to talk to you about is called S-RUN-R. The S-RUN-R system was developed by a lady Nancy Bailey. This combines review steps to better help you with your comprehension because you’re focusing on one section at the time. This is also a useful technique for difficult or advanced textbooks which are, information dense.

The five steps here are:

S, survey

R, read

U, underline,

N, note taking

R, review

I cover this in detail in the season one, episode seven podcast and it would take too long to got through it all again here, so I recommend you go back the listen to that podcast. The advantage of using this particular system is that it highlights all the important information in every section in every paragraph, and it increases repetition as well, because you get more repetition of the important points because you’re not just highlighting it.

So how do you go about marking up your textbook? The main two methods are underlining or marking with a pencil. You can use either, but I would recommend that you use a highlighter, since this forces you to read a second time. You might think you get the same effect with underlining but studies have shown that people tend to look at the pencil like rather than the words. Highlighting doesn’t have this disadvantage.

When marking, markup sentences where possible. If you ‘re highlighting keywords, then you need to use linking to connect them together. While marking just try to remember to mark things in a way that they’ll make sense when you review a month or six months later. This is why it is better to mark meaningful phrases instead of just words.

Diversity is great, but not when it comes to text highlighting. You’ve probably seen people who have 10 different colour highlighters and they have one colour for facts, one for opinion, one for keywords, another colour for examples, etcetera. I would advise against this. It makes you think more about the colouring than the content. Using two colours is really the maximum.

What to mark? Headings, subheadings, main ideas, supporting details, definitions, examples, and statistics are important. Mark the main ideas of the section. Main ideas are the general statements that the author makes about the topic. The main idea statement, or topic sentence, is generally found in the first or second sentence of a paragraph.

Look for definitions, examples, facts, statistics, and signal words. Lists or enumerations, like definitions, should almost always be highlighted. Don’t omit information included in charts, graphs, and other diagrams. The information under photos, in footnotes, and in boxed features is also important to your understanding of the material.

For Math or Science books make sure to highlight all formulas, as well as any problems.

Remember you don’t want to over mark, it will simply increase your review times! If you highlight everything, you might as well just read the book again.

Be sure you’re not under-marking as well. You need to get all the important information, and not miss anything, without marking too much. So you need to be like goldilocks and mark it just right. Practice will help here more than anything else. As you get experience in marking and reviewing later you’ll find the sweet spot.

You also need to use your highlighting to generate self-tests and quizzes. You use these markings and turn them into questions which your future self can be tested on and review. It will help you to solidify your knowledge and make sure you’re retaining what you need.

I’ll show you on the YouTube channel how I use a pdf reader called Okular to highlight pdf’s and show you how to generate quizzes into text files which can then be combined into tests or examinations.

I will post any links to the YouTube channel on the autodidactic website and in the transcription of this podcast. The transcriptions and the links are at https://autodidactic.info

If you have any comments or suggestions regarding this series or any of the previous series you can contact me at rick@autodidactic.info. Or post a comment on the website or on the YouTube channel.

That you for listening and I hope to see you next week.

Last weeks update on YouTube

S3EP2: Getting resources, using mnemonics, and filling out a retrospective timetable for the destupidification challenge

Autodidactic Podcast Season Three
Autodidactic Podcast Season Three
S3EP2: Getting resources, using mnemonics, and filling out a retrospective timetable for the destupidification challenge

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Welcome to the audodidactic podcast season three, episode two. If you’re a new listener welcome aboard and if your a returning listener welcome back. I’m sorry for the delay in getting the podcast out this week. I underestimated the amount of time that video editing for the YouTube channel in order to do a simultaneous release would take.

In season one I covered a lot of the methods regarding how to be an autodidactic, and in season two I covered autodidactics of the past and some of the methods they used for self learning. This season I’m doing a series called “My Destupidifacation”.

In season three I will be using all of the techniques and methods I’ve discussed previously to show these techniques in action. However, since a lot of the techniques require some elements that are best shown visually I decided to show what I’m doing on my YouTube channel.

Therefore each week on the Autodidactic podcast I’m am going to cover the creation of lesson plans, the creation of self quizzes, the methods I am using to learn, how I’m going to find resources for learning, et cetera. Then on my YouTube channel I’m going to review at the end of each week how well I did and try to show visually what I did. So the idea is for example episode three of the Autodidactic podcast will be published at the same time as the video which shows the methods I discussed on the episode 2 podcast and the results.

I am hoping that listeners will be able to get value from seeing how I am using the methods which I discussed in seasons one and two in the real world.

To make this a little more challenging I have also decided all of the resources that I use should be free and legal. So this means I will be getting resources of the Internet or from the public library system, et cetera. I want to show that it is possible to do self-directed, self-learning with very little investment.

So this week on the Autodidactic podcast I’m going to look at getting resources, using mnemonics, and completion of a study plan using retrospective timetable.

Getting Resources

I have done my initial assessment of what I want to learn, how much I already know and how much time I want to allot to each topic. So the next thing is to find some resources. I covered finding study resources in Season 1 Episode 4 of the podcast. So you might want to go back an listen to that if you’ve not heard it already.

The resources you’re able to get will be very likely to impact your time allocations. For example, you might discover there are not textbooks available, and you need to log a lot of time watching videos.

In my study plan I have already created a list of topics for which I need materials, and the preferred material for me is something to read. I prefer written materials because it gives me the ability to skim parts, or skip things I already know. Unlike video presentations where I would more or less need to watch the entire thing. For written material I would prefer to have something from a recognised university or publisher when ever possible.

It is possible to find these books online as well as in the local library. It is only when a search for these fails that I would fall back on to YouTube videos, or perhaps Khan Academy videos. Not because the information isn’t accurate, but more because of the time cost associated with this type of medium.

For this season I’m not going to use any paid resources to get my study materials. You’ll remember that one of the constraints was not to spend money on resources or materials. This is obviously an artificial constraint which I’ve given myself. However, I’m going to ignore all the paid resources which I listed in season one, episode 4.

Typically my local library would be my first point of call, but I decided that because of the time it would take to find and then reserve the textbooks I would try an online search first.

There are a number of organisations and people who release textbooks under a creative Commons or public domain licence. You can download a number of these directly from the sites. An Internet search will provide you with a number of other sites but I will give these three honourable mention.




I managed to find just about all the textbooks I needed from the last one the Open Textbook Library. I managed to find textbooks for Physics, Human Geography, Physical Geography, Probability, and Chemistry. While these are college level textbooks, I downloaded the introductory textbooks where I could. This is because my aim is high school level knowledge not university level in these topics. For statistics I already have a physical book which I’ll use.

A problematic topic for me was British history. There aren’t any online textbooks so I went to the local library and placed a couple of books on-hold. Luckily for me my local library has an online interface where I can search for the books and then reserve them. When they are ready they are delivered to my local library for pickup. In the meanwhile I’ll either not do any study or attempt to find something else online.

I couldn’t find a Biology textbook online which I wanted. So I have decided to watch some videos which are available on the Khan Academy website.

Finally I turned my attention to English literature and needed to find some poetry, works from the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries as well as something written by Bill Shakespeare. Do I headed off first to Project Gutenberg who’s mission is “To encourage the creation and distribution of eBooks.”

Here I found all of the works of Shakespeare and a ton of literature to choose from. If you’re looking for books or literature from the past this is a great place to visit.

That took took care of most of my resource needs and I then needed to turn my attention to mnemonics.

Using Mnemonics

In season 1 episode 6 I covered the usage of mnemonics for remembering things you need to learn. Mnemonics is a word derived from the old Greek Goddess of memory. You can listen to the season 1 episode 6 podcast for the full details on this subject. But I plan to use a number of mnemonics techniques in my season 3 challenge.

So a quick reminder of the techniques:

  • Rhyming
  • Storytelling or Chain System
  • Sentence Systems
  • POA (Person Object Action)
  • System of Loci
  • Acronyms

The techniques I’ll be using will be:

  • POA / Dominic method
  • Story / Chain System
  • Sentence systems

The Dominic method is named after it’s inventor, 8 times memory champion Dominic O’Brien. It is a PA (or person-action) system where you memorise the numbers 0-100 where each number is represented by a person and each person has an action. Because I’ve previously memorised the 0-100 person and action list for myself I can now use this system confidently to memorise other numbers. For example I’ve already memorised PI to 50 decimal places.

The Story system is where you chain together images in order to remember disparate things. So you might imagine a story. For example if I want to remember the 3 things required for photosynthesis, sunlight, water, carbon dioxide. I might make up a story where I am walking around in a hothouse will of plants, but the sunlight is do bright it is making me sweat, and the water pours off me like a river, the only way to stop the sweat is to soak it up with a huge towel that says carbon dioxide on it.

Sentence systems are things I used to use to remember things, but might not be accurate any longer, such as: My Very Excited Mother Just Served Us New Potatoes.

Of course now that scientists have demoted Pluto from being a planet, I need a new sentence to memorise the planets in order from the sun.

For phone numbers, birthdays, for my family and friends I will probably use a combination of the Story and Dominic methods.

Creation of a Retrospective Timetable

I’ll also create a Retrospective Timetable which is related to the Retrospective Revision Timetable which I mentioned in Season 1 episode 11. If you go back and listen to that podcast you can see that I’m actually adapting the methods I talked about then to fit my requirements now. All the methods which I’ve talked about in the show can be modified to fit your needs and objectives.

Retrospective Revision Timetable is when you list all the subjects and topics which you need to review for a test, then you do a review and flag the review with the date you did it, and how well you did, Green, Amber, Red. Then the next time you sit down to review, you pick something you haven’t yet done. After you’ve done them all you go back and do all the topics you flagged as red, then keep doing that until you’ve eliminated all the red, and work you way through the yellow, then the green. The idea here is that you’ll only be studying the things you are worst at in order to bring them up to a green level. There isn’t any point wasting time before your examination on things you already know.

A Retrospective Timetable is similar, but because you are using this to study not to review, you flag things slightly differently. First you list all the topics to be studied, just like before, then you study them, making sure to study each thing. Each time you study you again flag it as red, amber, green, but here you are only saying how difficult you are finding the topic or the textbook you’re studying. You flag this because it can be an indicator that you might have selected material that is too high a level or too low a level for you. It can help you to identify when you need to find more help or perhaps more difficult materials.

The ideal would be marking everything with amber (yellow) to indicate that this material is “just right” as goldilocks would say.

I’ll be showing my completed Retrospective Timetable on the YouTube channel and I’ll show some of the techniques for mnemonics. I will post links to the YouTube channel on the autodidactic website and in the transcription of this podcast. The transcriptions and the links are at https://autodidactic.info

If you have any comments or suggestions regarding this series or any of the previous series you can contact me at rick@autodidactic.info. Or post a comment on the website or on the YouTube channel.

That you for listening, and I hope to see you next week.

S3EP1: My Destupidifacation Project

Autodidactic Podcast Season Three
Autodidactic Podcast Season Three
S3EP1: My Destupidifacation Project

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Welcome to the audodidactic podcast season three, episode one. If you’re a new listener welcome aboard and if your a returning listener welcome back. In season one I covered a lot of the methods regarding how to be an autodidactic, and in season two I covered autodidactics of the past and some of the methods they used for self learning. This season I’m going to try something different.

This season I’m going to do a series called “My Destupidifacation”. Why? Well over the years I’ve started to become more dependent on my phone or computer to remember dates and phone numbers and other things. In addition, it has been almost 40 years since I left high school and a number of things that I was taught there have changed. For example there are no longer nine planets in the solar system. While I have kept myself busy learning new thing related to my career or interests, I haven’t really kept up with my general knowledge and the smart phone has allowed my memory to deteriorate.

So this season I thought it might be useful to use all of the techniques for self-learning that I’ve covered in seasons 1 & 2 to destupidify myself and to show how to use these techniques in action. However, since a lot of the techniques require some elements that are best shown visually I decided to show what I’m doing on my YouTube channel.

Therefore each week on the Autodidactic podcast I’m am going to cover the creation of lesson plans, the creation of self quizzes, the methods I am using to learn, how I’m going to find resources for learning, et cetera. Then on my YouTube channel I’m going to review at the end of each week how well I did and try to show visually what I did. So the idea is for example episode three of the Autodidactic podcast will be published at the same time as the video which shows the methods I discussed on the episode 2 podcast and the results.

I am hoping that listeners will be able to get value from seeing how I am using the methods which I discussed in seasons one and two in the real world.

To make this a little more challenging I have also decided all of the resources that I use should be free and legal. So this means I will be getting resources of the Internet or from the public library system, et cetera. I want to show that it is possible to do self-directed, self-learning with very little investment.

So this week on the Autodidactic podcast the aim of the first podcast of the season is to:

  1. Discuss how to go about listing my objectives
  2. Discuss determining goals related to the objectives
  3. Talk about how to break down the objectives in to manageable chunks and do a gap analysis of them.
  4. Discuss how I will go about finding resources.
  5. Discuss how I will track my activities.
  6. Look at the constraints.
  7. Discuss how I will determine which methods to use for things like memorization or information gathering.

That is a lot of stuff to cover, but it shouldn’t be a problem. Then next week you’ll be able to see the results of this discussion and see if what I planned to do came about, or if I had to make changes because of various opticals.

Let’s start with listing my objectives.

What is it I plan to learn and how deeply into the subject I wish to go. If you listen to episode 11 in season one where I cover the creation of a study plan, I went into great detail about why determining what you want to learn and how deeply you want to learn it is critical for the creation of a study plan.

The first thing you need to do is determine why it is you want to learn this new skill or gain this new knowledge. And then you want to be really clear about what it is you plan to do with this skill or knowledge. This is also a good time to determine how much you already know about the subject and where you need to fill in the gaps in your knowledge.

So this initial assessment should tell you:

  • what is it you want to get out of this self-directed learning.
  • what level do you want to achieve once the learning is over with.hel
  • what areas will you need to cover in order to gain the level of knowledge you require for what you want to do

So during this period I will be listing the knowledge that I want to gain, how much of it I need, and what I know and where the gaps are.

After I have generated this list and determined how deeply I need to delve into the subject to get the level I want. For example, for one thing on the list I might want complete mastery, for another just superficial knowledge. These goals will help to inform the search for research materials. If I’m only looking to gain a superficial knowledge of the subject there is no need to try and find a dozen different resources. One or two would be sufficient.

It also will allow me to break down the goals into smaller chunks. For example a goal like “Learn Maths” really isn’t good enough. So I need to make sure it is well defined, then I need to break it down into smaller units. Taking Algebra as an example I might break this down into:

  • Solving basic equations & inequalities
  • Evaluating functions
  • Graphs of functions
  • Quadratic equations & functions
  • Polynomial expressions, equations, & functions

So after having completed this exercise I have the ability to do a gap analysis of my knowledge. This could be as simple as just highlighting the various topics with red, amber, green colours to show how much or how little I know. It could be more elaborate with scoring from 0-100%. It doesn’t really matter at the moment, but just give some way to classify your knowledge so you can prepare for gathering resources.

At this point for each topic or subtopic I know:

  1. How much depth I am going into each topic
  2. A score related to how well I know the topic.

This allows me to determine the level of resources I will need. Let’s go back to the algebra example.

If I have scored “Solving basic equations & inequalities” as a green, meaning I already know a lot about it, and I don’t plan to go deeply into the subject, then I only need a textbook or a couple of video tutorials.

If I scored “Quadratic equations & functions” as red, meaning I know almost nothing about it, but I want to become an expert and go deeply into it, then I will need more resources. I will need a lot of resources. Perhaps two or more textbooks, a tutor, a large number of videos, etc.

I will also during this time determine what methods I will use to gain this knowledge. If I can learn everything from watching a couple of videos then that would be the only actions I would do, If it is multiple textbooks, videos, tutors, etc. then I need to think about that.

At this point or perhaps concurrently while thinking about all of the above, I will create an actions spreadsheet with three workbooks. The workbooks will be labelled today, this week, this month. Here I would just open a spreadsheet or on a bit of paper begin to list out some of the things I will need to do as they occur to me. This might be such things as; find a free open source textbook, find a tutor, etc. basically developing the actions and the resources that I will need to reach my goal.

But rather than just dump them on down as one big todo list, I’ll organise them by when I plan to do them. So in this spreadsheet I will put all of the actions while I am thinking of them. For example, I might put “Order textbook from library” into the “Today” workbook. I might put another action called “Hire a tutor” into next weeks workbook, and

This spreadsheet will become core to my study plan, and it will be a living document that I update daily. So while studying I might run into a reference for another resource I want to find. So in the action spreadsheet I might put in an entry for tracking down this resource.

This spreadsheet is difficult to describe and is one of the reasons that I’m also doing video updates on my YouTube channel. I think it is a lot easier to understand what I mean after you’ve seen one in action. This is even more important for the study plan spreadsheet.

Now I will look at the constraints I have. The two biggest are, as usual, time and money. One constraint I mentioned earlier is to not spend money, but only use free and legal resources. Another constraint is time. I will only have an hour or two per day to study, and I want to complete this at the end of my third season podcast, so I only have 13 weeks. So this tells me I will only have between 90 and 180 hours of study time, and it will have to be divided up between subjects.

There is a number of different ways to use this information, but if I were to just have a rule of thumb that any subject I marked as green, meaning I already know a lot about it, will only 5 hours maximum time spent on it. Or I might start will saying I will spend 50% of my time on red subjects, 40% on amber and only 10% on green. Regardless of how it is done, it is worth creating a budget for both the time and money.

You’ve determined how much time you have, so in my example I have 13 weeks with between 90-180 hours. I would take this and allot time against subjects. So for example, I want to spend 50% of my time on red items, the things I don’t know. 50% is 45-90 hours, and I have 10 things in this category. So I can only give each one 5 to 10 minutes per day? That doesn’t sound like a lot of time to go deeply into a subject. Over the course of the 13 weeks, it adds up to 15 hours.

But I would prefer to study a topic for longer. So I might decide to give each topic an hour every ten days or maybe 30 minutes every 5 days. I might decide I am spread to thin and decide to reduce the number of topics, or give 60% of the time to red topics. It is really up to me.

You can then use this time budget to “sanity check” your plans. It allows you to cut back on the number of topics, or increase the frequency of study, or reduce the depth you want to go in the study.

After you have budgeted your time and money and levelled any other constraints you can increase the accuracy of the study plan as you go along.

For example you may have downloaded a textbook from one of the free online distributors and you want to start studying. Looking back at your constraints column let’s assume that one of those constraints was time. You scheduled 20 minutes each day for this topic. With this in mind open the textbook and do a swift evaluation of how long you believe each chapter will take you to study, generate questions, and take notes related to the chapter. Then determine how many chapters or what percentage of a chapter you can get done in the time constraint that you have. Then you need to map this into your study plan schedule. You may determine that you can complete the entire textbook within one month if you do one chapter every two study period. So you just need to schedule that in. Having this in your schedule allows you to not get yourself overbooked, it also means you don’t spend time worrying about what to study next. It is already there for you when you sit down.

So that is the basic strategy I will be using to start to plan out my study for the next 13 weeks. Prior to the podcast I had a few days to determine what I want to learn in this 13 week period and the list I came up with is this:

  • Memorise all my immediate families phone numbers, birthdays, and the license plate numbers of their cars.
  • I want to learn all the new information in the English Baccalaureate / GCSE given to English high-school students in 2020 which I don’t already know because of my career, e.g. computing.
  • I want to learn how to play a musical instrument.

So those are a few of the things I want to learn. I’m going to spend a bit of time and work through my goals and objectives and hopefully you’ll be able to see the results of that next week on the YouTube channel. I will post links to the YouTube channel on the autodidactic website and in the transcription of this podcast. The transcriptions and the links are at https://autodidactic.info

If you have any comments or suggestions regarding this series or any of the previous series you can contact me at rick@autodidactic.info.

That you for listening, and I hope to see you next week.

My YouTube channel for video updates.

S2EP13: Me, Myself and I – The end of season podcast

Autodidactic Podcast Season Two
Autodidactic Podcast Season Two
S2EP13: Me, Myself and I - The end of season podcast

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Hello and welcome to the autodidactic podcast Season 2, Episode 13. This is the last episode in this season. I decided I would spend a little time telling you what I will be doing over the next few months with regards to my own self-study plans and what my plans are for this podcast.

Hopefully you’ll be able to take something from my plans in order to use for yourself and you’re own autodidactic study.

I’m currently focusing on five main areas for self-study.

  • Learning new programming languages
  • Learning natural languages
  • Learning maths
  • Learning electronics
  • Lock picking

The two programming languages I’m focusing on are assembly language for the ARM processor, and Rust. A lot of listeners will not be familiar with these but they are low level programming languages which are very helpful when programming computers. The reason for learning these is that they are closely related to one of my other learning projects which is electronics. Learning all three of these topics at the same time tends to reinforce each other. Understanding the electronics and logic chips used to build a computer, helps to understand the syntax and usage of both assembly programming and Rust programming. Learning the assembler shows how the binary operating codes used by the electronics is used in software. I’m also writing a program assembler in rust, so creation of software used to write software ties everything together.

Perhaps you have two or more topics of interest which you are learning that you’ll be able to create linkages between. I’m creating an 8-bit CPU from wires and logic chips, and writing all my own software from scratch. This type of synergistic project forces me to use the learnings from each of the three topics in a real world project. I’ve said before that having an actual use for what you are learning, and using what you are learning for a project outside the realm of the textbook exercises will do wonders for your understanding.

I also wanted to focus on the calculus and understanding and using it. Originally I thought I would go through all of the maths books I have on a shelf from basic maths through algebra, then trigonometry and into calculus. But I have decided that since calculus is want I actually want to know, why not just jump in and learn that?

Two weeks ago I shelved the algebra book I was working on and pulled down two of the calculus books I have. It didn’t take long to identify the things I had been doing in the algebra book were not of much use for calculus, but it also identified a weakness in some other areas of maths. So yesterday I put the calculus books back on the shelf and pulled down the trigonometry book. Boning up on sine, cosine, tangents is helpful for the chapter of the calculus book I’m on right now.

So here I’m not making a linear progression through one book to the next in order. For me, at this time, it is better from my study and motivation to go through the textbook in the topic where I want to be, and discover knowledge gaps. That way I can go back, plug the gap then return to the higher level book.

For some people skipping around like this is suboptimal, but for me it works much better since I’m time constrained. Some people will say this method will cause me problems in the future because I don’t have a grounding in the basics before moving on the more advanced things. Normally I would agree, but I did a lot of maths back when I was in school, and most of the books I’m falling back to are refreshers for me anyway.

The problem with not using knowledge is that in the 30 odd years since I first learned all this stuff it has mostly wasted away through non-use. But unlike the first time I learned it, a review is normally enough to remember what I need.

So is this method appropriate for what you need to know? Have a think about what you are studying and if it is unknown or if you are just slogging through a refresher course just because it is the next textbook in the sequence?

Again for many things I would advocate learning things in sequence from most simple to the most complex. But I find frequently I learn best when I hit a problem and I’m forced to then go back and redo or relearn. In the electronics self-study I have been doing the need to have an assembler program forced me to learn very complex software syntax. But in that project I had progressed through the entire rust programming book from cover to cover before using it.

What I’m saying is depending on the knowledge you need and the knowledge you already have, you may need to learn sequentially or it might be more advantageous to skip about. Only you will know, and only you can determine the best way. Just don’t be stuck with the assumption that all learning has to be sequential.

I’m also learning natural languages and by this I mean; French, Italian, Chinese and Korean. Studying these is by far the largest time-sink of all the study I’m doing. The software and electronics study are related to each other, and while you would thing languages would be as well, they are all actually very distinct things which have to be studied on their own separately. There isn’t a lot of overlap and you spend a lot of time learning vocabulary.

For these I split my time between conversation exchanges, reading, and TV programs in French and Italian, the two languages I’m most advanced in. The other two are coursebooks and some audio work with additional work in learning the Chinese and Korean writing systems.

Because natural languages are degrade over time, you need to use them or touch them daily. So assuming I were to spend only 30 minutes per day on each, that is still 2 hours of study time. So how do I break up this time?

Normally, I read or watch a show in French or Italian each day, and speak with a native at least once per week. I also review flashcards each day. For Mandarin and Korean I try to read a course book and watch a TV show each day.

However, because life often interferes it frequently isn’t possible to do each language every day, so I try to do at least 3 out of 4 languages each day. When I have to drop one I try to drop one of the stronger languages since it would take me a lot longer to forget what I’ve learned in those.

You might want to think about having a plan B for days when things don’t go well. Do you know what you could drop if you needed to? Do you have a prioritised list of things so you can quickly decide what to focus on when life blind-sides you again?

It is worth spending a little time which your schedule knowing that although you’ve allocated time for various activities your future self may not be able to handle those commitments. So try to give your future self some room to manoeuvrer.

The final thing which I’m studying is lock-picking. Why? Well, not good reason actually. I just find it interesting that people can circumvent locks with two pieces of metal and I’d like to know how to do it.

Lock-picking is a physical activity that you need to practice in order to get good at it. While the basic knowledge is readily available and the theory isn’t complex, many people still cannot do it. This is because it is a skill which needs to be honed via practice like juggling, or skateboarding.

Sometimes it is nice to learn something with your body rather than your brain. Have you considered learning a physical skill like juggling or lock-picking or skateboarding? If not think about including something like this into your plans.

Finally, I want to talk a little bit about the future plans for this podcast. Frankly there aren’t any. I do want to continue the podcast, but I have covered just about all the techniques you’d need for self-study and I’ve tried to give some inspiration through looking at the lives of famous autodidactics of the past.

As this is episode 13 the season has come to a natural end and I will be taking a break for a month regardless. I’ll use the time to think about either expanding the scope of the show in order to cover more information, or if I think I’ve covered enough for the podcast to come to a conclusion. I do need time between seasons, since I do many other things than study, such as YouTube videos, another podcast, write books and I work and have a family.

So it would be awesome if I could get suggestions from listeners. You’re input would be very welcome. Suggestions for future seasons or episodes or any suggestion you’d like to make really.

As always you can reach me with suggestions via the website or my email address: rick@autodidactic.info.

Thanks for listening.

Please visit:

My YouTube channel

The lollygagging podcast

Check out of my books:

African Extraction

Italian Détente

Wild Justice

S2EP12: Some general tips for self-study

Autodidactic Podcast Season Two
Autodidactic Podcast Season Two
S2EP12: Some general tips for self-study

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Welcome to the Auto Didactic Podcast, Season two, Episode 12. This week, I want to discuss some learning processes that I use. That might be helpful for you as you become self taught.

One of the main issues that you may find yourself running into is motivation. So you start off quite well and you’re charging along learning whatever it is you wanted to learn and then you dip, you run into an intermediate learning stage where you’re not really learning much more and the subject doesn’t excite you as much as it did initially. And you basically run into the problem that you just aren’t motivated to continue to study this. Now, some things about this might be helpful if you just decide that you’re going to take a break.

Sometimes it’s very worthwhile just to have a break and then come back to it. Now you should decide in advance before you take your break how long that’s going to be. So you decide, well, I’m going to not bother to study for another week for example, but don’t just stop without a restart time and date in mind because otherwise you may just never start again. So this is what you need to keep yourself on track if you take a break and you need to restart. The other problem you may have is that you’re doing too long study period. So for example, if you’re doing study periods of five or 6 hours a day, then you can quite quickly get burned out on study and you’re not really interested. And it becomes a problem. You can avoid this by trying to shorten your study times or take a break or try and change things up in one way or another.

Something else that can help you stop procrastinating or not studying is to increase the urgency of why you need to study. So if you are learning a language for example and you look at it as a long term thing, uh you know, you’re going to go to Spain in 10 years time and you want to learn Spanish. The fact that it’s 10 years from now doesn’t give you a driving urgency to learn. So you need to add some urgency to your goal, assign a date to complete certain tasks. So you’re going to start having conversations in Spanish in two months time. Well this makes it a lot more urgent because two months isn’t very long compared to the 10 years. Set yourself a shorter deadline and a more dynamic thing that you need to do.

Now, one of the other problems that many people have when they’re studying is time management. For me, this is a bit of a misnomer because you can’t actually manage time. Everybody has the same 24 hours in a day, so you can’t actually manage time. It’s going to happen whether you like it or not. What this actually is, is scheduling management, it’s scheduling your time properly to fit in, all of the things that you need to fit in and to do. I did a podcast on some time management aspects in season one, but realistically you need to manage your schedule not time because you can’t actually manage time. And part of the thing for managing your schedule is prioritizing your study time. So if you’re falling behind in your studies, it might be that you have not prioritised it over watching television or some other task that’s bit more pleasurable or you’re not finding the study time pleasurable, in which case you should try and find some way to make that, you know, a bit more interesting and a bit more fun.

Now, one of the ways that you can make your study time a bit more interesting is that actually use what you’re studying now frequently if you are learning a new skill, typically, if it’s a physical skill, like, I don’t know, juggling, you’re going to be doing this in a, you have to juggle in order to learn juggling. You can read a few books, but at the end of the day, you’re going to have to practice juggling. This really does work as motivation because you’re physically doing it.

Some other studies, such as computer programming, you can read a book and not actually do any programs and you work under the assumption that you understand what you’ve read, similar would be mathematics or some other textbook type topics. So you’ve read the textbook and you assume that you can do it. But in fact with programming, for example, until you’ve actually written a program that compiles and works, then chances are you don’t understand as well as you should or could you should try and do as many exercises as you can. Try and actually use what you’re learning less study and more use of what you’re learning, I think will help you to overcome any reticence to study or reasons that you don’t want to study and it will also help you understand and comprehend what it is you’re studying now. It might be that all of this extra practice slows down your progress through the textbook, but it will help you with your comprehension.

And so in fact, it’s probably better another problem that you may have when you’re practising or working on it. Your study is that you actually do or practice something that you already know how to do and you’re not pushing yourself if you are trying to learn how to play chess, for example, just constantly reviewing the same books and memorizing the same openings isn’t necessarily increasing your ability or your practice. In this example, you need to do deliberate practice.

You need to deliberately practice what you’re not doing as well. At for example, when I was learning French and I was having some difficulty with some grammar aspects of French. When I was doing conversation exchanges, I would ask my language exchange partner to focus on the grammatical mistake that I wanted to stop doing any time that mistake happened. They pointed it out and raised it to a conscious issue and discussed how it should have been in this example. They weren’t just correcting any mistake I made, they were specifically correcting mistakes that I knew I was making or that they had identified as a fault that I commonly made. And so we would practice correcting that issue even if it was just trying to invent sentences with the correct grammatical structure for a half an hour. But that type of deliberate practice will help you when you’re doing yourself.

Study when you practice, you need to be challenging yourself. Which is why when you read a textbook in programming or mathematics or whatever, there are typically exercises and you should be doing every one of those exercises as a self study, as an auto didactic person. You need to be doing the exercises. It’s difficult when you’re doing self study to get feedback about problems and gaps in your knowledge. So it’s hard to know whether you’re doing it correctly or not. For example, learning a language, it’s difficult to know if your pronunciation is correct, unless somebody is there to sort of critique you and to show you what you’re doing wrong. You can learn quite a bit on your own, but without some feedback mechanism, you will get stuck. What you need to do when you’re doing your study is try and get feedback and get that feedback scheduled in and periodic and that you’re always going to get it so that you’re constantly going to improve. Now the best form of feedback obviously is somebody who knows already what it is you’re trying to learn for languages that might be a native speaker.

It might be a mathematics tutor, it might be a programming mentor, whatever, but they will be able to give you targeted feedback. They can help you design a learning program that will overcome any gaps in knowledge and help you to progress quite often is difficult to find somebody who can help you. But, you know, the internet gives us a lot of opportunities to look around and find more people online to help when you’re learning, multitasking is not helpful. So when you’re learning something, you need to be focused on that for that period. And if we revert back to the time management thing, you need to be scheduling that into your learning activities. So for example, if you’re going to be doing practice or if you’re going to complete the exercises, you need to make sure that you’ve allotted time to complete all of that and you need to focus on it.

Don’t try and study while listening to music or watching the television, it’s just just not going to help you. Another thing that is helpful when you’re attempting to learn is regular review and lots of note taking before, I’ve often said that you should be writing a quiz for your future self every time you complete a study session. So every time you complete a study session you write yourself a little quiz for the future. You and every time you start to study session you should take the quiz that you wrote earlier. This helps reinforce what you learned and it also identifies what you have forgotten or got wrong and that helps you go back and review. So unless you’re going to review information you are not going to retain it in your long term memory. So it’s important that you don’t cram in a short space of time.

You need to spread out your reviews. You need to do reviews weekly, daily and you try and remember it for a short period of time. And the more often you try and recall it, the more likely it is to be pushed into your long term memory. It’s inefficient to reread text And we covered this in season one. But rereading tax is a time consuming and it really doesn’t give you a great deal of knowledge highlighting words is ineffective. That doesn’t really help either. One study even suggested that highlighting hinders learning because it draws attention to individual elements and not the whole context. When you’re doing your reviews, you need to be looking at the concepts and noting them down in notes and then one you’ve done your note taking review your notes and if you need more information you can always go back and reread that particular section of the textbook rather than try and just reread an entire textbook all the time. So there are some steps you can take to make sure that you’re learning as fast and efficiently as possible. Try and have someone who’s already learned or already knows what you’re trying to learn available to give you feedback tips and mentoring.

Try and immerse yourself in the learning process. Don’t do any multitasking. It’s a bad thing if you’re going to study study, try and learn in short bursts, so don’t do six or eight hour long study periods if you can avoid it because those tend to Make you tired and you’re not really paying attention at the end of it. So you’re better off studying. Many studies have shown in 20 to 30 minute chunks after that, your attentional dwindle and it just becomes difficult to learn, write things down in notes as opposed to trying to highlight things in the textbook.

We’re much better, human beings are much better, at remembering things that are written down because you are in effect reading it, thinking it and writing it at the same time, you need to focus on what you’re doing and practice deliberate practice. And we’ve mentioned this before. But trying to explain it to someone else forces you to reevaluate your knowledge and revisit it and internalize what it is you need to to know. Also in season when we discussed memory improvement and memory techniques such as mnemonics and memory palaces and things like that, you should probably, if you haven’t already go back and re listen to some of those tips because that will help you to remember what it is you need to do. But again, practising what you’re doing frequently will help you to get that information solidified and in your head as a comprehensible thing. It’s much more useful to practice 100 maths problems than it would be to read the same page of a Math book 100 times.

Because the fact that you have to do it and you have to internalize the methods and the processes for doing these exercises will help you much more than just simply rereading. It’s also helpful when you’re doing practice because you’re actually learning in multiple ways. So you’ve read the information in the book or online, you have looked at the exercise and you’ve done some exercise. But if you’ve got a little project that you need to finish, these will often bring up a little snags and learning opportunities that you wouldn’t get just doing the exercises in the book. So for example, if you were learning to do pottery making hundreds of bad pots is probably going to teach you more than trying to make one perfect pot.

So mistakes will help you improve trying practice, trying to deliberate practice to fix known gaps, but also practice any in and of itself is useful but a project. So, for example, if you’re learning to code actually creating a website rather than just reading the book and doing the exercises about creating a website will be a significant learning opportunity. One researcher, juvie Willis said the more regions of the brain that’s stored data about a subject, the more interconnections there are, and this redundancy means that people will have more opportunities to pull up related bits of data from their storage areas in response to a single clue.

This cross cross referencing of data means that we have learned rather than just memorized. Another helpful technique is to use related learnings to help with new learnings. So, for example, if you are trying to learn some form of geometry, help doing a lot of uh algebra may help or the what you know that you’ve done in algebra will help you learn more about geometry or trigonometry or calculus or whatever. But these related learnings, you can pull in while you’re doing your new learnings many times you forget what you’ve learned and Einstein famously said never remember anything you can look up.

Sometimes we forget the details of things that we’ve learned and we need to remind ourself about some tidbit of information and often you are better off just looking up the correct answer than trying to rack your brain and trying figure out what it is. And one study showed that the longer you spend trying to remember the answer to something, the more likely you are to forget the answer in the future. And this is because these attempts to recall previously learned information actually results in what’s called an error state instead of the correct response.

That’s it for this week. It was a bit impromptu and I hope it was helpful if you have any questions, please feel free to email me or to make a comment on the website and I’ll try and get back to you as soon as I can, or perhaps even make a podcast about what it is you wanted to know. Thank you very much for listening.

[I apologise for the transcription, it was computer generated and I didn’t have time to correct it.]