How to Make Sure You Learn Something New Every Day (Plus, Why You Should)
While there are likely a few topics you could talk about for hours—like your job or a favorite hobby—it's important to constantly add new factoids to your arsenal of knowledge. "We all know that it is important to exercise the body, but very little do we talk about the benefits of exercising the mind," says Frank Elaridi, a wellness coach, the co-founder of Modern Nirvana Conference, and co-author of the Modern Nirvana Oracle Deck ($24.95, barnesandnoble.com). Rather than cramming your brain with a bunch of information all at once, try taking it slow by simply striving to learn something new every day.
"Learning something new helps build new brain cells and can strengthen connections between the cells," Elaridi says. Accessing new information can come from a variety of sources including podcasts, books, video channels, and your own personal connections. To help you implement this practice into your daily life, we tapped several experts about the benefits of learning something new every day, and how to make the process easier.
The Benefits of Learning New Things
Learning something new every day is a great way to keep your brain sharp as you age. The practice can "improve your concentration, memory, and problem solving, and could also reduce the chance of developing dementia," Elaridi says. "We don't want our brains to become lazy, because a lazy brain can often have trouble recalling words and ideas."
Working to feed your mind a new tidbit of information regularly will keep the organ sharp and alert. Beyond benefiting your brain, unlocking new information also fulfills a human need as well. "Humans crave novelty and growth," says Alexis Haselberger, productivity expert and creator of Alexis Haselberger Coaching and Consulting, Inc. "Learning something new daily allows you to meet those needs." She also adds that accessing fresh factoids can lead to increased confidence and feelings of competence, as well as help you foster connections with others. These are all factors Haselberger says increase your "overall sense of well-being."
Mine Your Interests
Don't think about expanding your knowledge as a chore to check off your to-do list. Keep it fun by considering what topics interest you and what things you'd want to learn new information about. Elaridi says to choose something that "lights you up," stating that it's "difficult to learn something just because you think you should learn it." Choosing a topic you're not interested in will likely lead to you getting distracted or losing motivation during your allotted learning time. Instead, Elaridi recommends seeking out information on subjects you're passionate about.
Discover Your Learning Style
If you find it difficult to retain new information, take some time to figure out what learning style works best for you. Elaridi notes that some people are visual learners, while others are audible. "Some people enjoy reading while others, like myself, learn best from experience," he says. To determine your preferred way of learning, try a few different methods and see which one keeps you engaged for the longest period of time without getting distracted. "When one starts to feel monotonous, switch it up for a day then go back to your preferred method," Elaridi says.
If you're trying to expand your knowledge on something particularly challenging, Haselberger suggests searching online for the best way to learn that specific subject. Alternatively, she recommends asking friends and family members what has helped them learn new things in the past or to think about techniques that "worked for you in prior times and replicate those methods."
Utilize Available Resources
A few accessible ways to obtain new information is to set aside some time daily to read, listen to a podcast, or watch YouTube videos on your topic of interest. As you unlock these learning tools, Elaridi encourages you to switch up which one you use regularly. "While driving in the car, I listen to podcasts because I am in a relaxed state and can digest it easily; while working out, I learn Spanish because exercise can increase my ability to retain information," he explains. Having a few different dependable resources will ensure that you can access new information regularly, whether you're sitting in bed or out for a jog.
Venture Out of Your Comfort Zone
In addition to reading or listening to a podcast, Haselberger recommends trying something fun as a way to learn. She recommends playing games like Wordle or crossword puzzles, participating in trivia night, joining a book club, taking an online course or live class, and watching a documentary as all great ways to learn something new. She says that when we engage our minds in something fun, the learning doesn't feel like work, and instead it's almost a "side benefit" to the enjoyable activity you're participating in.
The time you set aside to exercise or do laundry doesn't have to take a backseat to learning something new. Instead, try merging the two into one part of your day by listening to a podcast while you fold clothes or watching an online video while you're getting ready for bed. "I never just do laundry or just do my skincare routine. I always make use of that time by playing a TED talk, podcast, or YouTube video in the background, so that I'm always learning and absorbing new information even in the most mundane tasks," Elaridi says. "The amount of things I learn while doing simple chores around the house is mind-boggling."
Elaridi notes that combining learning with something else, like hiking or drawing, almost tricks your brain into thinking it's doing something fun. "It breaks the patterns of associating studying with homework and tests that we were conditioned to do in school," he says.
Turn to Your Connections
The people in your life are also a valuable resource when it comes to learning new information. Just as you're adding to your arsenal of knowledge daily, so too are those around you. "Oftentimes we are learning from others, and when we learn we often want to share what we've learned with others," Haselberger says. This can be as simple as asking your friends what books they've read lately or if they've recently watched an interesting documentary.