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Novelty Leads to Learning

An interesting article on the Buffer Blog talks about how novelty triggers our brain to do more learning.

It makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint. When you were wandering around in the jungle or on the sahara you would want to learn as fast as possible when something new came around. This wouldn't really be you but caveman-you.

If there was something you had never seen before that could possibly kill you, you'll want to be alert and ready to learn everything you can. Caveman-you wouldn't last very long if you didn't learn that the sabertooth that wanted to eat you was a bad thing. Humans are only around to this day because they learned quickly what would kill them and what wouldn't.

Since we don't have any sabertooth tiger's or dinosaurs to chase us around today, what good is it?

This comes in handy when you are learning. When trying to stuff all that new job information, foreign language words or programming rules into your head, you want them to stick. It's frustrating when you have to do it over and over and over again.

Because your brain loves novelty, you'll want to use that to your advantage.

The Buffer article, suggests 3 things.

Add in something new

If you are going over the same old information over and over again, you are going to get bored. Throw in the odd new thing once in a while to keep things interesting. We all know that when things don't change we get bored. Keep things interesting.

Change your environment

Switch up where you are. Joel Runyon calls this "Workspace Popcorn". Work for a couple hours in one place and then switch it up. The switch gives you a break, lets you move, lets your brain turn off for a bit. Apparently our brains will be more tuned for learning after you switch environments as well.

Learn after doing something new

Your brain will be primed for learning right after you do something new. It doesn't have to be related just new to you. It could be something small or something big. This also reminds me of a side effect of Flow that increases your creativity for a day or 2 after a Flow experience. I feel like my brain is firing twice as fast after I exercise. There might be an element of novelty in there as well.

Go for new

So new things prep our minds to learn. Set up those new experiences and then the learning right after. You don't want to look at all those programming rules any more than you have to right?