Here’s what you can do to bend your brain into submission
So, we did our part. The rest is up to you. These tips are a starting point; listen to your brain and figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. Try new things.
1. Slow down. The more you understand, the less you have to memorize.
Don’t just read. Stop and think. When the book asks you a question, don’t just skip to the answer. Imagine that someone really is asking the question. The more deeply you force your brain to think, the better chance you have of learning and remembering.
2. Do the exercises. Write your own notes.
We put them in, but if we did them for you, that would be like having someone else do your workouts for you. And don’t just look at the exercises. Use a pencil. There’s plenty of evidence that physical activity while learning can increase the learning.
3. Read the “There are No Dumb Questions”
That means all of them. They’re not optional side-bars-they’re part of the core content! Don’t skip them.
4. Make this the last thing you read before bed. Or at least the last challenging thing.
Part of the learning (especially the transfer to long-term memory) happens after you put the book down. Your brain needs time on its own, to do more processing. If you put in something new during that processing-time, some of what you just learned will be lost.
5. Drink water. Lots of it.
Your brain works best in a nice bath of fluid. Dehydration (which can happen before you ever feel thirsty) decreases cognitive function.
6. Talk about it. Out loud.
Speaking activates a different part of the brain. If you’re trying to understand something, or increase your chance of remembering it later, say it out loud. Better still, try to explain it out loud to someone else. You’ll learn more quickly, and you might uncover ideas you hadn’t known were there when you were reading about it.
7. Listen to your brain.
Pay attention to whether your brain is getting overloaded. If you find yourself starting to skim the surface or forget what you just read, it’s time for a break. Once you go past a certain point, you won’t learn faster by trying to shove more in, and you might even hurt the process.
8. Feel something!
Your brain needs to know that this matters. Get involved with the stories. Make up your own captions for the photos. Groaning over a bad joke is still better than feeling nothing at all.
9. Design something!
Apply this to something new you’re designing, or refactor an older project. Just do something to get some experience beyond the exercises and a problem to solve… a problem that might benefit from one or more desigh patterns.