Week 18 of 2017


Finally went through the book. It also has a corresponding course online, a really popular one.

The book tells about basics of learning, but uses really nice, simple analogies to explain stuff. I envy a lot middle school kids, who would read it. I wish, I had something like that when I was 12-15.

But even now, there’re things to pick up for me, for example, I used to treat breaks during working or learning as somethings bad, more like a distruction etc.


  • A key to successful learning, in a lot of ways, is about switching between the “diffiuse” mode and the “focused” mode.
type of the mode learning style results corresponding hemisphere
focused intentional focus connecting things together, regular learning, solving problems you’re familiar with or that don’t take connecting of unusual things left
diffused learning on the background insights, cracking hard issues that require intuition or non standart approach right

  • Switching from the focused mode to the diffused mode could be done with walking, running or other mechanical activities that keep you busy, but set your mind free to connect things together, to analyse the problem on the background.

  • As it follows from the previous statement, taking a break sometimes is crucial for figuring out deeper connections with the subject, regardless of what it’s.

  • Everyone has a different learning speed in different subjects, it’s normal. A practical application is to not let that bring you down when you see you see someone being faster than you in a certain subject. Or when you feel frustrated that you can, let’s say, learn music faster than how to cook.

  • Persistance in a lot of ways is more important than intellegence. You don’t know your real potential. There’re many examples in the history of science, when a guy made a huge impact on human’s knowledge and was kind of a fuckup in the school.

  • Sleep is also really important as it refreshes the brain.

  • Anatomical and physiological basis of learning is a neuron connected to other neurons with an axon. Neuron has also dendrites. The connection between the two cells is called a synaps.

A picture of a neuron with axons, dendrites and synapses

  • During breaks and sleep there’s a process of building and solidifying neural structures, the connections among the neurons.

  • Move the items you learn from the shortterm memory to the longterm memory by practice and spaced repetitions.

  • Use methaphors, visualizing and the muscle memory to speed up learning.

    My opinion: muscle memory aka typing or writing down what you heard, especially if there’s a lot to remember, really helps. But if you’ve already grasped an idea, if you writing down something you already understood.

    Methaphors help as well, but I don’t do it as much, a lot of times, it’s just easier to get things as they’re.

    About visializing, I think, some ideas are better to express with text, some look really great in tables. For some of them, visualizing works really amazing.

    Supposibly, the Einstein’s love to visualizing and mind experiments could have been stimulated by the ideas of Aaron Bernstein, a guy, who emphasized importance of learning through pictures.

  • Use the memory palace technic, which is, basically, you pick a place you know really well and you try to connect ideas, concepts you learning to the place by imagining a walk through the place (let’s say, a room). You can do it by imagining unusual, crazy situations happening in the room, because a mind remembers better things that caused emotions.

    My opinion: I don’t like mnemotechnics in general, sometimes it could be useful, but most of the time, you’ve to spend more effort in order to create an unusual, memorable scene than just straight learning a concept.

  • Use the Feynman technic, which is trying to explain a concept, a sophisticated one in simple terms, better as simple as it’s possible.

  • Retrieval is better than passive rereading for keeping the material.

  • Also, in addition to the basic idea that you should be understanding and practicing, it’s crucial to work on getting a context, the big picture besides the idea. Of how it relates with the other ideas.

  • To fight with procrastination, the author advices to see it as a habbit. Each habbit could have 4 aspects:
    1. A belief;

    2. A trigger;

    3. A routine;

    4. A reward;

    So, a work on forming habbits might also include a certain reward, you should reward yourself for good habbits.

  • The book suggests tracking your time with Pomodorro.

    My opinion: I used it, but have come to the conclusion, short sessions aren’t working as good for me as just a simple stopwatch in my emacs on the background.

  • Plan you activity ahead of the time, it’s better to do it in the evening before.

    My opinion: I’ve tried both – making todo lists in the evening before or in the morning during the day. It seems, both work fine, I prefer making them in the evening, but sometimes I get so tired that I just put it off until the next morning.

  • Brainstorm together with others to crack a hard problem, collaborations are really effective, because often qualified others can see things you can’t.
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