When trying to study about tedious topics, our mind turns into a perfect task avoiding machine. Our attention disappears altogether, and long-term memory suddenly stops working. Anything we read is forgotten even before we turn the next page. Luckily, many study-related cognitive skills can be trained and developed, and these trainings won’t only make you better at remembering tedious information but also more effective when learning about topics of personal interest.
These simple activities and exercises are capable of developing different forms of attention, long-term memory, as well as other study-related cognitive skills such as information processing and cognitive flexibility. Below you will find 8 ways by Wonderlic Test Prep to develop your cognitive skills.
1. Read Books
Reading books is a highly effective way to develop multiple cognitive skills, most importantly attention and long-term memory. Reading also improves your ability to process information. It doesn’t matter which books you read, as long as they aren’t some light reading material like love stories or beach friendly books, you’ll be fine.
The best way to read is always reading one novel and one nonfiction book at the same time. Whether you like history, technology, different branches of sciences, there are hundreds of quality nonfiction books that tackle plenty of interesting subjects. This way you will be able to improve your studying skills and also learn something as well. And also, try reading interesting online articles that deal with science and technology. Just take your time and think about the info presented in those articles instead just scrolling the first couple of paragraphs and then switching to something else. By slowly and comprehensively reading online articles you will develop attention and widen your attention span, which is quite important for studying effectively.
Reserve a couple of hours each day for reading and then stick to the schedule, try reading before going to sleep and during job breaks or in between classes. Use the time you would spend on scrolling your Instagram feed on reading books.
2. Listen to podcasts
Podcasts are great. There are literally thousands of different podcasts online, and all (or most of them) are free to listen to. No matter what topics are in your area of interest, you are guaranteed to find a couple of podcasts you can regularly listen to. And they are great for developing cognitive skills.
You see, if you listen to a podcast while commuting, during strolls, or when doing something else you can develop your multiple simultaneous attention (the ability to multitask successfully). Just try following a podcast while doing something else and over time you will become able to actually remember what you’ve listened to while doing the secondary task (working out, strolling through the park, etc.). And when you notice you can actively follow the discussion and remember it afterward, you’ll know your memory and attention got upgraded.
3. Listen to favorite music
It is well known that listening to classical music helps in developing attention and maintaining it over long periods of time. But it doesn’t matter if your taste lies in some other music genre. You can develop attention by listening to your favorite music regardless of the genre, just be attentive.
Try carefully listening to lyrics, or thinking about the songs’ structure. Follow the flow of different songs and analyze their melodic constructions and progression. This way you won’t simply develop attention but information processing too.
Meditation is great not just for relaxing and coping with everyday stress but also for improving our memory recall ability. Mindfulness meditation has proven to have positive effects on memory recall by improving emotional reactions, enabling us to better focus our attention towards active tasks, according to multiple studies.
Meditation can also help us to be better at remembering information and according to one study“mindfulness meditators more quickly adjusted the brain wave that screens out distraction could explain their superior ability to remember and incorporate new facts rapidly.” So, learn about mindfulness meditation here and here and then start practicing it. Results will come after just a couple of sessions.
5. Train your cognitive skills by taking cognitive tests
The brain is a muscle, and all muscles need training in order for them to grow stronger. And brain training means taking various cognitive tests many of which can be accessed online. Memory tests are quite good, so are various cognitive training apps available for smartphones.Wonderlic Cognitive Ability Test is another good way to develop every cognitive skill because it is a broad test that conveys almost every cognitive ability.
6. Stay hydrated and exercise
Yes, staying hydrated increases your attention span and helps you focusing on a subject for more extended periods of time. It also enables you to develop long-term memory. And physical exercise also has lots of positive effects on cognitive skills because it makes us focused and persevered in order to complete tough, physical activities.
It doesn’t matter which type of exercise you prefer. Running, swimming, weights, other types of cardio training are all fine. Just make sure to exercise at least four times per week, about an hour per session.
7. Takes notes in longhand
Taking notes in longhand instead on a laptop makes you actively thinking about the subject, processing information while taking notes, and reframing information in your own words which can be beneficial later, during studying.
8. A couple of bonus tips
You should drink coffee, tea, or chewing gum while studying. This helps us at focusing, at retaining information longer, and at being better in information processing.
Write what you learn in hand, or repeat information aloud, whatever suits you more. This way you will actively repeat what you learned and also think about it. In the first case (writing) you will think about what your write and in the second case (repeating aloud) you will listen to the information. Both ways help to remember information better.
Chunking technique can help to remember long and unrelated lists. This technique works by organizing the information in different groups, or chunks. For instance, if you study about great European empires, you can divide them based on location (Southern Europe, Western Europe, etc.) or based on eras they thrived (classical era, medieval era, Renaissance, etc.).
And probably the most important piece of advice of them all. If you want your attention and memory to be at their best make sure to have enough sleep. No matter how much you love the subject you have to study about, or how much you trained your attention and memory if you are sleepy your brain will not be able to work at its peak performance. 7-9 hours of sleep every night is extremely important for your brain to function at its max performance.
Author Bio: Mike Taylor is the content manager of Wonderlic Test Prep. He likes to stay up to the speed with education and related topics and has been contributing in the same since a decade now.