How To Learn Anything

Here is my “How To Learn Anything” essay that you can use in class or in the home as a self-assessment guide. It’s based on the simple, timeless principles of learning that I learned in a world that didn’t yet give us books and a school system that was designed for boys and girls just like me.

I have read a lot of books and been inspired by many others. But I have also learned a few things about learning from these books that really work for me. Here is the list of principles that I have discovered and applied in my own life. I’ll let the examples do most of the heavy lifting for you.

1. Read Often. 

Reading is vital for learning. Reading is like a sponge that eats up the good stuff from its surroundings. If you’re like me, one of the first things you do after breakfast or lunch, is read. Read over something you’ve read and reread it three or four times, maybe even more. I often use my phone to take notes while I’m reading (it’s easy, I promise.) 

2. Don’t Overthink It. 

“Overthinking it” or “thinking about it” makes it feel like work. It wears you down. You think, “What more can you learn about this subject?” You get distracted. You stop listening. There’s always something else that pops into your head. You read it out of sequence or it’s over before it’s really begun.

3. Write It Down. 

It’s hard to listen when you can write it all up on paper. Then you can look at it, and read it out loud or record it on tape. Your brain will be more engaged and you’ll remember it better.


When you can’t write it down you’ll have to write it down in your journal or on a blog, or print it on something. Or you can use Google Hangouts or Skype chat. Do whatever works for you.

5. Keep It Short. 

“You learn more when you write an essay” – Jim Rohn

There are two basic problems with long essays. The first problem is that it’s hard to read. 

The second problem is that it takes an incredible amount of time to write. And the more you write, the more you have to do. I keep my essays under 20 minutes. I write one thing and let it go from there. Just stop when the essay is done. 

6. Use The “CASE” Method.  

You’re going to have to keep some things to yourself. You’re going to have to leave the lecture hall or class early if you have to. There is no “everyone in my class understands this concept.” It’s one point and that one point makes everything more complicated. 

You have to take notes and make notes. It’s hard to read when you’re filling in the gaps in your memory with stuff you haven’t learned yet. But it’s easy to teach. You just have to teach where you came from and where you’re going. 

I recommend writing the following things and then putting them into a document.  The document will serve as a review of what you learned in class. After I review what’s in the document I show it to my classmates as a lesson for them to memorize.  I can show someone how to make something very simple in less than five minutes. 

“We’re going to make a simple ball that rolls down the lane. So we can throw it down the lane. The ball’s big, but it’s too big to catch in the air. What do we do? We make another ball. We make an even bigger, more comfortable ball. But to hold it, we have to make a larger, longer ball. So we make another bigger ball, and then we’re done with the ball. So, everyone tosses the ball down the lane. And now the ball is too heavy for the kids to play with at first. There’s just no way the kids can carry the ball all the way down the lane. But, if we made the ball softer and put it under the ball, we would have the ball all the way to its destination. It all works because we’re making the ball out of smaller pieces than we would if we made it out of larger pieces. We’re using smaller pieces because that lets us pack in the extra stuff the ball needs for the trip down the lane. The ball can’t go down the lane, because you can’t carry it all the way down. It won’t roll down the lane and then it just goes back up again. You have to make the ball bigger to make it roll down the lane. That way, it’ll roll down the lane faster.”  This lesson may take all of one class. However, I will make sure that I show it to my classmates as lessons.