In the search for new ways to elevate myself, I stumbled on some ideas about learning things faster. As a result, I browsed through the Kindle Unlimited Realm and found a book called “How To Learn Anything: Learn efficient self-education techniques to quickly become an expert in anything” by Daisy C. O’Donnell. It seemed to be just what I needed for the moment… But did it deliver?
About the book
I found this book as I was scouring through Amazon’s Kindle to find inexpensive books to start my journey of learning how to become a better learner. I had previously watched some videos of memory techniques and the like and got interested in things such as note-taking, memory palace, and more. Yet, I still thought it would be better for me to get some more introductory material first, and this book took that task head-on!
While I couldn’t find much about the author of the book, Daisy C. O’Donnell, I did find the insights in the material to be very useful for my purposes of reading it. The book serves as a brief look at some common traits and mentalities you develop as a self-learner, as well as some known tactics to try and enhance your own learning abilities. The book also makes a very valid point of reminding us all that we remain individuals, and as such, not every method will work for everyone. Rather, it encourages us to try and find the ones that serve us the best, all the while keeping an eye out for new and improved strategies.
Qualities of a self-learner
A big portion of the book talks about the qualities and skills of self-learners. Things such as setting goals and gaining self-confidence are mentioned as perks of such people. And while such self-centeredness can become a thing in the outsider’s perception when talking about the reality of us autodidacts, we are definitely not any more selfish than the person next to us. Quite the opposite, actually! While we go on our merry way to learn all things that interest us, we need to understand the finite nature of being alone on this journey. Finding people to talk with, learn from, and teach becomes a noble cause in itself.
Self-learners are also known to develop their skills in direction and perseverance, as they have nobody else to be responsible to than themselves. This ability in itself is very difficult to cultivate, as I’ve noticed from my own experiences as a presonality-wise disturbed individual, yet it seems crucial to the general evolvement of us as human beings. Promotion of strength of character and keeping to your values and goals is a desirable outcome if there ever was one.
Skills to aid with learning
When it comes to skills to help with learning, the book is quite brief on point, and instead of an in-depth look into everything, it gives a superficial look at some things. This doesn’t make the book any less desirable though, as we all need a place to get some ideas about where to go next! For me, it worked marvelously to jot down book ideas and reference materials, a direction to continue my quest to become a better, more efficient learner!
I found the section about reading, notes, and writing especially helpful in this guiding way, as it introduced me to concepts such as active listening and reading, as well as the Cornell notes system, which I find particularly handy (You basically divide your notebook into two columns and a section below them. The left column is for pre-meditated and other types of questions, the right column is for notes and key thoughts, and the space below the columns is for a summary of the learned things. Google it, it’s truly amazing!). I wish I had known about it back in my school days, as it seems like such an amazing way to take notes!
Some of the more common methods used in learning, such as concept/mind maps, colors, and more, are also mentioned within the pages.
Adapting what I learned for my future endeavors
The book also helped me come up with my own plan for studying, as I have many topics I am interested in and passionate about. I now have a legitimate, modest, yet challenging set of goals and a system with which to evaluate myself during the course of my learning. And the best part of it is that that model is open to changes and evolving, as it should be considering the ever-changing nature of the world around me, my own self, and the passions I have within.
I also made a more in-depth plan for each topic, and a general outline for my sessions that goes something like this:
- Find material to study.
- Before Session take a glimpse at the material and come up with questions you want answers to.
- Prepare the respective notebook so that you are ready to jot down your Cornell Notes! (I have notebooks for each subject I am studying)
- After the Session, come up with HomeWork for it. Finish this HomeWork before the next Session. (I typically have 3 tasks to complete anywhere from practical things to writing small essays, making plans, and answering queries I’ve made from the material.)
- In regular intervals, do a bigger evaluation task such as writing an essay on the topic or putting it into practice on a more substantial scale (for my basic Hebrew aspirations this would be to have a small chat with someone or to write a small letter or read an article).
I am quite pleased with this book as a whole. It gave me some basic tools and ideas, and a nice stepping stone to spring forward on my learning journey. While the author seems relatively unknown to the world, I urge you to check this book out, do some thinking and HomeWork based on the information it offers, and go from there. The whole world of learning is open to us all, and this book is as good a place for beginners to start as any!