Learning to Learn [Efficient Learning]: Zero to Mastery

Exercise: The Lesson to Unlearn
To expand on the topic I discussed in the previous video, please go ahead and read this: http://paulgraham.com/lesson.html

Paul Graham is one of the most respected thinkers of our time and he discusses this idea of Learning vs Winning the System very well. We won’t have too many articles like this that I share with you throughout the course, so please take the time to read this, or bookmark it for future reference :slight_smile:

See you in the next one!

Didn’t You Say We Can Learn Anything?

Yes! I said that Anyone, Anywhere can learn Anything. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t have things we are better suited to than others. With our limited time, our job is to figure out what to pursue based on our existing skills, and the skills we can develop. Sometimes we have to know when to turn around and pick the right path in order to use our resources efficiently.

I’m in my 30s now. I probably don’t have a shot at becoming a gold medallist in gymnastics unfortunately :frowning:

We will learn more about this as we progress through the course.

Exercise: Happiness Factors

What are your 5~7 happiness factors? Write them down, and try to monitor and check up on them every few months. I usually use a score from 1 to 5 to grade how each of my happiness factors are doing. It’s very rare to have all of them at optimum 5, but it is good to monitor and be aware of their levels.

Exercise: Feynman Technique

Using the Feynman Technique, let’s actually solidify what we are learning in the course. If you have been following along and taking notes on your own or in our worksheets, you should have something now to be able to teach or show others your work.

Moving forward, on top of taking notes, I want you to start thinking of these notes as “shareable” notes that you are going to share at the end of the course. This means you can use something like Google Docs to share with the ZTM community, you can use something like Medium to share what you learned in a blog post, or you can share your filled in worksheet online.

The idea is to take notes in the course in a way that at the end of it all, you can teach what you have learned to your friends, family, or even people on the internet. It sounds tedious, but as you will find out, this works to help ideas stick. We will revisit this exercise at the end of the course and see if these notes are shareable!

Exercise: Trunk Based Knowledge

Do get further information on what it means to develop Trunk Based Knowledge, have a read through this article before moving on to the next video.

Exercise: Beating Procrastination

Next time you feel like procrastinating? Read this article and implement these 3 points in your daily anti-procrastination ritual: https://www.deprocrastination.co/blog/3-tricks-to-start-working-despite-not-feeling-like-it

Ps one of my favourite tools to avoid procrastination is ones the block certain websites. Here is the one I use and recommend but there are many options out there:

Optional: Working Memory vs Short Term Memory

In this course, we can think of Short Term Memory and Working Memory as the same thing. However for those interested in the details you can read about the specific differences here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2657600/

Exercise: SMART Goals

Let’s do a fun exercise! Although we haven’t gotten to the Techniques section of the course where the real fun begins and you start learning practical tips, I want us to get started on defining some goals that we may have. Pick any goal that you want that involves learning and growing. It can be something you have thought about while taking this course, or something you will think about now. From there, you have 2 options:

  1. Watch this short introduction on SMART goals and set your own goals according to the rules

  2. Read this detailed guide on setting SMART goals and set your own goals according to the rules.

The second option will take you longer to go through but it is more detailed. Pick one option, and then define your goals. We are going to use these goals in the techniques section to apply the strategies to get to the end goal.

Exercise: Specific Goals + Purposeful Practice
One of the names we will constantly hear in this course, and especially when we start learning about Deliberate Practice, is Anders Ericsson.

Before moving on, read this story of one of his students who was able to remember 82 digit number after 200 hours of practice. The way he was able to do it was Purposeful Practice (which we will talk about later), and setting Specific Goals. Read through the story and notice some of the things we have talked about already pop up: http://nautil.us/issue/35/boundaries/not-all-practice-makes-perfect

For the things that may be new in that article. Don’t worry, we will cover them shortly :slight_smile:

Exercise: Deliberate Practice

Remember the article we read a few lectures back? http://nautil.us/issue/35/boundaries/not-all-practice-makes-perfect

Well, go ahead and read it again, but now realize that combined with the Goals that we talked about, and now purposeful practice, it creates this idea of “deliberate practice”. Read through the story and notice some of the things we have talked about pop up that you may have missed the first time around.

Once done, move on to this story of Kendo and see if you can notice Deliberate Practice being practiced (ha!) here: https://www.tofugu.com/japan/kendo/

Exercise: Spaced Repetition Habit

Although I am giving you a sneak peak into the techniques here, have a walk through this interactive exercise to form the Habit of Spaced Repetition: https://ncase.me/remember/

Exercise: Your Productivity Time

Now that we learned that having an endpoint is important to learning, decide for yourself when your daily end time is. For example, I am a morning person and my most productive hours are between 7am and 12pm. I also sometimes like to work in the afternoon, but I have a cutoff of 5pm. No matter how much work I need to do, how many deadlines I have, at 5pm I have an endpoint that I always follow.

Combining your productivity time, with your endpoint time, you now give your brain a rest for worrying and planning. Your productivity time may change day to day. Maybe you have small endpoints throughout the day for small tasks. But no matter what, you have an absolute work/learning endpoint at 5pm (or whatever time you decide).

Exercise: Being Bored

If you didn’t get a chance to see the resource attached to the previous lesson, well, now is your chance. Grab a cup of tea and watch this video to realize how important being bored can be: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKPwKFigF8U

Once you finish watching it, try to not do anything for 1 hour. No screens, no internet, no talking. Just be bored.

Exercise: How to Set New Year’s Resolutions
Phew! That was a lot. But by now, you should understand the way our brain works. So let me ask you this… knowing what you have learned, how will you set your New Year’s Resolution for next year?

Once you have written what you think is a good goal based on what you have learned, have a watch at these 2 videos:

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pm9CQn07OjU

  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVGuFdX5guE

Did you set a good goal?

Resource: Pomodoro Technique

Here are the free apps I recommend if you want to use the Pomodoro technique:

Web - This or This

Desktop - https://tomighty.github.io/

iOS Phone - https://apps.apple.com/us/app/be-focused-focus-timer/id973130201

Android Phone - https://engrossapp.com/

Resource: Chunk The Subject

There are many ways you can chunk the subject depending on what you are learning. Here are some of my favourite examples of chunking:

Duolingo for language learning

Khan Academy for mathematics

One thing you will notice is that in the above examples, they all have short lessons below 10 minutes (just like this course does). Chunking the subject is essential to learning, and some of the best ways you can tackle hard problems or chunk subjects yourself is to:

Grab a notebook, or a one page piece of paper, and try to write down everything you have to learn into one page. A 1 page summary of EVERYTHING you need to learn. If that is too difficult, it means you haven’t chunked the subject enough. For example, let’s say you wanted to learn everything there is to know about Computer Science. How would you chunk that into a 1 page summary? Here is how one person did it:

When I taught a course on data structures and algorithms, which is a massive topic, here his how I chunked the subject using one of my favourite tools (coggle.it)

Resources: Spaced Repetition

The act of creating diagrams of what you have learned is one of the best ways to recall information and avoid that forgetting curve. This is why I created a roadmap for this course. A diagram for you to be able to recall the lessons, the orders, and the sections.

One of the best tools to repeat what you have learned the day prior, it to write it down in a notebook, or diagram the main concept you learned. This is why journaling was used so often before people had computers. Great inventors used the act of writing down what they were learning so that they can recall it in the future and be reminded in case they forget.

My favourite tools for Spaced Repetition:

- Google Calendar, or any calendar that you can write down goals over days, weeks, months

- https://chains.cc/

- I don’t personally use this tool, but it is a popular one, to help you recall information: Anki Flashcards

- You can get fancy and get this .

Resource: Create A Roadmap

My two favourite tools for creating a roadmap is https://coggle.it/ and https://miro.com/. Additionally, you can also just get a physical Whiteboard to draw your roadmap.

However, once you create a diagram and a roadmap, I like to write things down in a notebook and the exact plan of attack. What do I mean by that? Well, in my 20s I taught myself to code, and I created for myself a roadmap. You can actually see the type of roadmap I built right here and get an idea of what I mean:


You will notice 2 key things here:

  1. I chunked the subjects to the important parts

  2. I had a clear end goal in mind and a timeline (we will discuss this more in future techniques)

The above points are important for any roadmap that you create for yourself.

Resource: Interleaving
Interleaving is a very powerful concept. It is the reason as we age, we tend to become smarter. We are able to interleave different experiences in our lives and all sorts of knowledge to connect different ideas. The goal is to “mix it up”

Before we move on further, please read this excellent article and try to answer the question: “how am I going to mix up my learning?” in your notes based on the topic you are trying to learn.

Exercise: Einstellung

Riddles are a great example of Einstellung. Ask yourself, “what is Option C?” in this riddle:

Water Jug Problem (which became famous from the movie Die Hard 3):

You’ve got to defuse a bomb by placing exactly 4 gallons (15 L) of water on a sensor. The problem is, you only have a 5 gallon (18.9 L) jug and a 3 gallons (11 L) jug on hand! This classic riddle, made famous in Die Hard 3, may seem impossible without a measuring cup, but it is actually remarkably simple.

Try to solve this yourself.

You can find the answer to the riddle here with a step by step guide, or you can even watch the clip from Die Hard 3 where this is used.

I always like writing down “What is Option C” at the bottom of all my notes when learning something new to be reminded of this effect.

Exercise: ZTM Community

Try to answer this question: Who are the 5 people you hang out with most? Do they make you better and push you to be better?

Next, go on our Discord server and say hi to someone in #learning-to-learn channel or help answer someone’s question. Don’t underestimate the important of having a community in your next learning journey.

You can also usually find communities around your specific subject: Forums, Reddit groups, Slack channels, etc… Always be part of a community when learning something new. Don’t do it alone.

Resources: Habits

Here are my favourite resources and tools for helping you form good habits:



If you want something on your phone, then you can pick any of these options that appeal to you here (my favourite is StickK) .

I also enjoy this for making sticking to habits like a game: https://habitica.com/static/home

Other free apps that I use to form good habits to keep your happy levels, be healthy, and in a good place for you to be an efficient learner:

Meditation + Sleep: https://www.calm.com/

Fasting: https://www.zerofasting.com/

Resources: System vs Goals

How do you write down your goals? Have a system in place (such as writing in a notebook or calendar) your short term goals.

How do you write down your systems? Have a system in place to write down systems as well.

Go ahead and watch this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVGuFdX5guE

Once you are done, ask yourself: What is my theme this year?

For the past 10 years I have had a new theme every year which I have been successful in accomplishing every time because it was a system and not a goal. What is yours for this year?

My favourite tools for writing my goals and systems:

Exercise: Method of Loci…Again!
Wait, wasn’t this at the beginning of the course? That is correct. We are going to rewatch this video and realize how much we now notice about the Method of Loci. The reason this method works is because it is using a lot of the techniques/science we have learned about in this course already. Also notice how the Method of Loci invokes as much of our senses as possible to help with memorizing.


Ps, here is an awesome tool that uses the idea behind the Method of Loci to help you take notes: https://www.nototo.app/

Resources: Pareto Principle

Here is an example of how I used the Pareto Principle to create a guide to learn to code and get hired in the shortest amount of time (within 5 months without any prior knowledge of the subject matter) :

If you read the first couple of sections of this article you will see how I used this principle to find the exact 20%. Try to create a guide like this for your next learning journey and spend the up front time finding this critical 20% to get you to 80% of the results.

Resources: Stakes and Rewards

How can you stick to a goal?

First, go to the ZTM Discord server and announce in #learning-to-learn channel your goal and timeline of accomplishing this goal. Have someone in the server (your buddy) check up on your and make sure you are going to accomplish that goal by the deadline.

Second, if you really want some stakes, my favourite tool for this is https://www.stickk.com

Good luck!

Correction: Next Video
Heads up, in the next video we will talk about 2 books:

  1. Ultralearning

  2. The first 20 hours

I mention that they are both written by Josh Kaufman, but Ultralearning is written by Scott H Young. I will link to both books in the next video. Overlearning which we talk about in the next video should be attributed to Scott, not Josh.

Resource: How We Learn

Let’s practice spaced repetition! In case you forgot how learning works, here is a great video reminding you of some of the things we learned in the science section: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBVV8pch1dM

Exercise: Feynman Technique Revisited

You did it! By now you understand the power of the Feynman Technique.

As a final exercise, try to teach what you have learned in this course to others around you: your family, friends, or even online.

You can use something like Google Docs to share your notes, you can use something like Medium to share what you learned in a blog post, or you can share your filled in worksheet online.

Here is an example of what one student did: https://www.rockyourcode.com/learning-to-learn-ztm-course-review-and-notes/

Please let me know when you post these notes online or in the community by sending me a message on Discord or on twitter @andreineagoie and I will share it with the community!

Become An Alumni

I have created the #alumni channel on Discord as well as the Alumni role so you can network with other graduates. Please let myself or the management team know that you have finished the course so you can get the alumni badge in the community! Simply post your completion certificate in the #alumni channel and tag the @Management Team. If you have finished the course I highly recommend you join the channel and stay up to date and network throughout your career. You never know how it may come in handy in the future.

It would be great to have the alumni follow up on their career journey such as: * Did they find a new job? * or * Did they enrol in some further study? * or even * Did they launch their own business/product? *

Many students would benefit from this and I hope you give back a bit to the community :slight_smile:

Recommended Books

If you want to explore the topic of learning more, here are some of the books I recommend in no particular order:

Seth Coding - The Dip

Rober Greene - Mastery

Josh Waitzkin - The Art of Learning

Shane Snow - Smartcuts

Ryan Holiday - Obstacle is the Way

Barbara Oakley - Learning How to Learn

Matthew Walker - Why We Sleep

Anders Ericsson - Peak

Daniel Kahneman - Thinking Fast and Slow

Charles Duhigg - The Power of Habit

Brian Tracy - Eat that Frog!

Joshua Foer - Moonwalking With Einstein

Cal Newport - Deep Work

Cal Newport - So Good They Can’t Ignore You

Neil Strauss - Emergency

Scott Adams - How to fail at almost everything and still win big

Daniel Pink - Drive

Scott Young - Ultralearning

Tim Ferris - All books

Josh Kaufman - The first 20 hours

Steven Pinker- How the Mind Works

Peter Brown, Henry Roediger & Mark McDaniel - Make it Stick

Kevin Horsely - Unlimited Memory

Carol Dweck - Mindset

Robert Maurer Ph.D. - Kaizen

One Final Note of Advice

Most of the time, you don’t need 100s of Apps on your phone to be productive. A pen and a notebook is usually all you need to form good learning habits.

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