self improvement

Beyond Reading a Book: 3 Hands-On Methods of Self-Education

When you’re trying to learn a new subject, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the information you read in books. However, reading a book isn’t always the best way to learn. Less the 22{54c12dad2cc2b53ae830e39915b1a3e70288dbcbbeb8bbf8395437c5dc3c512c} of men learn by reading. Compare that to the almost 50{54c12dad2cc2b53ae830e39915b1a3e70288dbcbbeb8bbf8395437c5dc3c512c} that learn through images and 35{54c12dad2cc2b53ae830e39915b1a3e70288dbcbbeb8bbf8395437c5dc3c512c} through audial. With women, the stats are far closer, with 38{54c12dad2cc2b53ae830e39915b1a3e70288dbcbbeb8bbf8395437c5dc3c512c} learning best through reading and images. Using this data, it’s easy to see that most people learn best by doing more than reading. Here are three methods that will help you the next time you want to teach yourself something new.

For Memory and Trivia: Games and Quizzes

One of the best ways to expand your memory and learn more is through fun games and quizzes. All you have to do is find one that revolves around the subject you want to learn. For example, if you want to learn more about geography—say, the countries in Europe or Africa or maybe the capitals of the world—look for a fun quiz on that topic. While testing your knowledge on what you already know, it will also help you learn the capitals and countries that you’re not familiar with. Before long, you’ll have everything memorized, and then you’ll be able to impress your friends and acquaintances.

For the Arts: Practice

Whether you’re trying to learn how to paint, play the piano, or write, you need to practice constantly. I’ve seen people with no musical background whatsoever teach themselves how to play the guitar with nothing but one guitar and their own determination. You can do the same, as long as you have that same strong determination and practice as often as you can.

The more you write, the better you understand the way that words work together. The more you paint, the more you learn the strokes and coloring. Practicing helps you learn arts a lot faster. You could also try watching videos and stock footage of others, and then trying to duplicate their efforts. Just as long as you are constantly practicing, you’re sure to learn the skill you want.

For Languages: Immersion

When you’re trying to learn a language, you want to immerse yourself in that language. This is different than just practicing, although practice is definitely a part of immersion. Immersion is surrounding yourself with the language. If you frequent a social networking site, change your default language to the language you’re trying to learn. This won’t hinder you as much as you think it will, because you’re already familiar with the layout of the site, so you’ll be able to learn more vocabulary.

Speak to natives, if you have some available to you. For example, if you’re trying to learn Italian, and you live near New York, start going to Little Italy as often as you can, and talk to the people there. By practicing what you know, you’ll become more confident in the skills you have and you’ll learn more at the same time.

Self-education is about more than just reading a book. To really solidify your knowledge, you have to move beyond the words on the page and into actively doing something about the topic you want to learn. By implementing these methods into your self-education, you’ll become a master of whatever subject you want to tackle.

Lucy Markham is an avid blogger and a part-time consultant for Art Beats. As a recent homeowner, considers herself a bit of an expert on all things home improvement, gardening, and home decoration.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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