Self learning: Learn more in less time | Peter Hollins

If you want to study a new skill or any subject. Then you have two methods of learning. Traditional learning and self-learning.

Traditional learning: you depend on the school or college system to teach you.

Self-learning: you are the teacher and the student.

In one of the best self-learning books, the science of self-learning by Peter Hollins. The author stated that the basic advantage of self-learning is there are no limits to learning, but the disadvantages are:

1. There's no system to follow.

2. There's no exam or a way to assess yourself.

3. There's no calendar to commit to so that you can achieve your goal.

To learn anything new (skill, subject, or a book) you have to ask yourself 3 questions.

1. What is the principle of self-learning?

2. How to effectively process new information to benefit from it?

3. How to create a study syllabus and calendar to follow?

Principle of self-learning

Learning doesn't end when you graduate, because that's when you learn new skills and develop yourself to seek better opportunities. To learn anything new, understand an important principle in the learning field called the learning success pyramid. This principle divides learning into three basic principles: confidence, self-management, and learning.

1. Confidence

It plays a great role when learning anything new. The medial part of the temporal lobe (in the brain) called the amygdala handles emotions.

A study by Harvard Medical School shows that when the amygdala is exposed to negative emotions, it activates the fight-or-flight response. This response is exaggerated, that it stops you from progressing in learning. If you always tell yourself negative things e.g. I'm a failure, I can't learn anything new by myself, I can't be successful.

This little, small negative self-talk triggers this part of the brain and stops the person from accepting that he/she can learn something new in the right way.

2. Self-management

The difference between self-learning and traditional learning is that traditional learning depends on having a curriculum and teachers, while in self-learning you are the student and the teacher. Self-learning depends on two things: Self-management and Content Management.

3. Learning

The learning stage is the easiest, but most people fail because they can't manage the first two stages, which are confidence and self-management.

Methods of learning

How to deal with new information effectively? There are three methods to help deal with any content 

1. Cornell notes 

This method of learning helps you to summarize anything by repeating the same note three times in different ways. To apply this method in the right way, divide your notebook paper into 3 different parts.

The right-hand side is where you write notes you learned from the lesson.

The left-hand side is where you write the cue: which is about summarizing the notes on the right-hand side in a simple way.

The lower part is where you summarize the most important lessons you learned in a simple way that you can remember them well. For a detailed explanation of the Cornell note method click.

2. SQR3 Method

Each letter stands for something that helps you study effectively. SQR3 stands for survey, question, reading, reciting, and review.

Survey: a quick scan and fast reading of the book. So that your mind can easily recognize the information later.

Question: ask important questions based on what you read from the first step.

Reading: read slowly and understand the book deeply.

Reciting: in this step, read, and ask questions loudly because here you act as a student.

Review: make a general revision to everything you read, answering questions you asked to ensure a full understanding of the book.

3. Feynman technique 

This simple but effective method of learning is created by a physicist called Richard Feynman. It helps in understanding the information the right way. This method can be simplified into three important steps:

1. Determine what you want to study, then read it.

2. Explain what you read in a simple way that everyone can understand, even a 6-year-old kid.

3. Simplify and revise what you read.


In this part, the goal is to master self-management and knowledge management. 

1. Self-management 

The four steps can help you manage yourself in a better way so that you can complete the study syllabus. 

1. Specify blocks

Specify two periods for yourself throughout the day. In these two periods, focus on the important thing, which is reading.

2. Give yourself enough physical and mental rest

Do this between the two periods so that your brain can assimilate the information.

3. Make a schedule for entertainment time

The time you will spend with family, or alone or anything that can entertain you. This step is important because it helps you to complete study for the rest of the week.

4. Allocate equal shares of planning and execution time 

These two times need to be equal so that you can achieve high productivity.

2. Knowledge management

Self-learners are self-dependent because they don't have a curriculum to follow. One thing that helps to better manage the curriculum is the question as part of critical thinking. The basic idea is to collect all the information regarding the curriculum you want to study: the advantages and the disadvantages, linked information and thoughts, ways to implement what you are reading, and how does it benefit you. This step is complicated but if you can ask the right questions and answer them, then you understood the curriculum from all sides.