How to Improve Self-directed Learning Skills

Learning Jun 06, 2020

Today, more than ever before, we have an abundance of learning resources on the internet. You can learn a variety of things like computer programming, photography, managing personal finances, or improving relationships.

The only question is, how good are you at self-directed learning?

The capacity to learn is a gift; The ability to learn is a skill; The willingness to learn is a choice. ~Brian Herbet

Most of us are capable enough to learn. If you have the willingness and time, you can learn and grow every day.

But daily learning isn’t necessarily productive. It’s common to forget after a few days; so is losing a learning habit and failing to get back on track; or wasting time on information that doesn’t help in personal or professional growth.

So it’s important to develop effective self-directed learning skills.

This article aims to help you understand how to improve self-directed learning skills using a few methods. But first, let’s look at self-learning from different perspectives.

What is self-directed learning?

When you’re motivated to learn about something every day with an insatiable hunger that’s self-directed learning.

My biggest motivation? Just to keep challenging myself. I see life almost like one long University education that I never had — every day I’m learning something new. ~Richard Branson

Having a growth mindset—the ability to learn continuously and willingness to adapt to change—is crucial today.

If you want to learn and grow, the internet can be your best resource. It has virtually everything you seek. You’re only limited by your desire to learn.

You have the freedom but your self-directed learning skills, like any other skills, need to be effective to learn better. Here’re a few ways to improve:

Take notes

Taking notes is like creating snapshots of knowledge. It can help you in better comprehension and retention.

Note-taking aids conceptual clarity. You can reconstruct facts and ideas in your own words and thoughts.

When you learn new things, it's not automatically stored in your long-term memory. You need to recall the information from time to time. Reviewing notes can improve retaining key information for longer.

In case you want to improve note-taking, you can refer to my article on note-taking strategies.

Think critically

Many folks confuse opinions and intuition to facts. While there are some biases that we cannot escape easily, it’s wise to use critical thinking to reduce them.

Rather than being another way of analysis, critical thinking must be an integral part of self-directed learning. It’s crucial for building logic, good decision making, and clarity of thought.

You can learn more from the experts on this list of talks on critical thinking.

Manage distractions

There can be times when you can’t focus on reading. Some of the best practices to regain focus is to practice meditation, setting up a good environment to learn, and blocking the sources of distractions.

Though I advocate using the internet to learn, it can be a double-edged sword. It’s easy to access quality information and get distracted for hours. I find it productive to fix early mornings as a dedicated time to learn. I’ve gradually formed a learning habit after a few months of practice.

Stay curious

Staying curious is a mindset, not a method. We’re naturally curious about things. What separates high achievers from the rest is the impulse of seeking new information, constant experimenting, and discovering new possibilities.

I am neither especially clever nor especially gifted. I am only very, very curious. ~Albert Einstein


Bipin VK

Bipin is the co-founder of Savay app. He's passionate about building products that help people in learning, skill development, and productivity.