Turtle Treading the Grass

Most of us get tempted to learn things fast when there’s a possibility to do so. Humans are impatient by nature, and we want to see progress and achievement as fast as possible. And the more information we consume the greedier we become. But this hinders us from internalizing knowledge, because we never get to properly digest the intake of information.

Fast learning causes congestion in hour heads, and we fail to retain information as we continue to process more and more data. Just look at most school exams. How much of the stuff are we able to keep in our heads in the long run? 40%? 30%? Or less? If this is the way we learn, it will be hard for us to become experts at anything. We need to focus more, and strive to pile new information on top of previously learned knowledge without losing grasp of it.

Fast learning introduces more stuff in a short time, but slow learning lets us grasp less stuff but more effectively. I mean, if we’re going to lose our grip on most of the stuff anyway, why should we choose to waste time deliberately. It’s a bad investment if it doesn’t bring us success in the long run. So if a slower pace brings better success in the long run, it is actually faster in the end—and better. Slower is faster, so let’s start learning slowly.

How do we learn slowly?

  • One topic per day. Focus on properly learning and internalizing one concept per day. If you desire to study more, try to expand on the same concept. (Example: Learn how to add fractions. Don’t learn how to add and divide fractions on the same day.)
  • Revise. Practice makes perfect, so revise often. The more you revise, the closer you get to mastery. Don’t just learn the technique, try to understand what is behind the technique.
  • Think. Read things with thought. But also think about the concepts later, and try to break them down into simpler and more easily graspable ideas.
  • Apply. Apply the concepts whenever possible—especially in out-of-context situations. (Example: How can marketing help me to become more successful with women?)
  • Leave stuff for tomorrow. Don’t try to force yourself to thoroughly cover a topic in one sitting. It’s good to leave material for the next session, because you get to digest the information at night and free up brain capacity to absorb more.

We should realize that trying to absorb more information interferes with sustaining it. The more information we try to store in our brain, the harder it gets to keep it there. So taking a slower approach to learning lets us progress more comfortably, and internalize knowledge more effectively, and gain a better understanding in the long run.