When you're young, learning is easy. You're open to new ideas, and get excited about challenging yourself. You also have more time, and everyone around you is encouraging you to take on new skills.
But something happens as people start getting older. For some reason, you begin to believe you know most things. Many think that the subjects they studied in school are what they must limit themselves to. In reality, you should never stop learning.
The brain is like any other muscle; you must work it out for it to get strong. The problem I see occurring with most people trying to learn is that they give up too fast. Lack of efficiency leads to a lack of results, which leads to demotivation. But it doesn't have to be this way; you can learn how to learn better. There are a variety of ways to do this, and I'll go through three of the easiest, which you can apply right away. Start learning smarter, and you'll achieve much more.
1. Understand that your mind is inherently lazy.
Our bodies and minds do not like working. Until it becomes a habit, most of us do not love going to the gym. We'd rather be sitting on the couch eating Oreos. Your brain is no different. It doesn't like being forced to think through problems and learn new skills at first. But once you've learn the fundamentals, the brain doesn't need to do as much work, so it becomes easier.
Lets go back to the gym example. The first time you lifted weights, you probably were exhausted and somewhat awkward. But after going enough times, you most likely noticed a change. You had to think less, your body showed results, and all a sudden going to the gym became fun. The same lesson applies to your brain. So when you're learning a new skill and it's hard at first, don't let that discourage you. It's supposed to be hard. Keep fighting through, and eventually you'll start to love it.
2. Switch back and forth less often.
Switching back and forth between tasks causes your brain to do a lot of work. You have to come back, refocus, and get in the correct mindset. Psychologists have discovered that people's pupils dilate when they are pushing their mind to learn. This is evidence of the concentration required to take on new skills. To learn effectively, it requires someone's complete attention. Any kind of distraction ruins your mind's ability to absorb information.
Because of this, cut out all the distractions you can when you're learning. A great way to do this is through time blocks, where you don't do anything but one task for a period of time. Put the phone away, turn off the TV, and go into a room by yourself. Once you have your mind in learning mode, you want to switch out of it as few times as possible. Every time you make your brain refocus, you drain its energy.
3. Lie to yourself about the skill.
When your mind tries to not get into learning mode, you'll feel it. You'll feel tired, and start thinking of excuses to not do the task. Pushing it off until tomorrow starts becoming an option, and it seems like it's impossible to concentrate.
In these cases, you've got to lie to yourself to focus. One of the easiest ways to do this is to force yourself to smile as you learn the material. Stick a pencil between your teeth and make yourself grin. Study after study has shown that faking a smile can affect our emotions in a positive way. Trick yourself until what you've learned becomes fun. Learning new skills isn't easy, but it's one of the things that make life so enjoyable.