5 Ways To Get More Interested In Boring Topics You Have To Study

| Podcast

boring-topicsStudying about boring topics you don’t give a hoot about sucks, right?

Especially when you’re in a rush.

Especially when all you want is the grade, the certification, the knowledge.

Well, I can’t make any promises, but there might be a way to help make any topic much more interesting to you. At the very least, we can remove the sting of boredom. At best, we can make any topic we want 100% Magnetic.

1. Warning Signs That Your Mindset Is Off

 

I know, I know. You’re tired of hearing about mindset.

But let’s face it. We have minds. Every day we wake up with more or less the same world outside the window. Just like we have to make our beds so that the sheets won’t be sprawled all over the place, we have to set up our minds for success.

But that’s the problem, isn’t it?

Lots of people are happy to leave their beds messy all day long and then crawl into the unkempt mess at night. It’s cold because the mattress has been exposed and probably a bunch of insects have settled into the dune-like patterns. Sure, you might fall asleep okay, but there’s nothing like slipping into a made bed.

You know it’s true.

 

It’s The Same Thing With Your Mind!

 

Sure thing, you can get through life without setting up your mind for success, but it will be cold and exposed to the elements. The bugs will crawl in and lay their eggs, and you’ll never get the warmth you deserve.

But take just a few moments to tidy up and you’ll reduce the suffering that comes from studying things you don’t like.

Because that’s just the thing: A lack of mindset is probably the thing that got you into a position where you’re studying things you’re not passionate about in the first place. You’re probably studying material that produces no great excitement because you’re chasing after hopes and beliefs and dreams and wishes – not what you really want.

 

How To Set A Powerful Mindset For Learning

 

Whether you’re trapped or not, the process works the same. The best way to get your mindset in order is to set it each and every morning. As I talked about in the Mandarin Chinese Mnemonics And Morning Memory Secrets episode of the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast, having morning rituals is a killer way to conquer the day.

When it comes to creating a mindset for making the material you’re studying vibrant and exciting, all you have to do is write down in a journal how exciting it is to be studying and how grateful you are to have the opportunity.

And it’s true: Not everyone has the learning opportunities you do. A massive percentage of people in the world don’t have access to the Internet, schools, books or anything even remotely related to helping them develop their knowledge.

But you …

 

You’ve Got Everything You Need

 

So take a moment every day to recognize what an amazing opportunity you have. If that isn’t a recipe for injecting excitement into a boring topic … I don’t know what is.

If all else fails, here’s what to do if you or someone you love is considering not completing their high school diploma. They may have already left school, but it’s not too late to go back. I dropped out of high school myself for awhile, but I’m so glad I returned.

Best decision of my life.

 

2. Be An Info-Completionist

 

Okay, so now that you’re plump with self-hypnosis induced excitement for the privilege of study, you still have to sit down and learn the stuff.

The question is … How?

A lot of people ask me how I manage to read so much, and the answer is simple:

Get a book. Find a place to sit. Read the book. Repeat until you’re done.

I don’t say that to be flippant, but it’s the truth. If you’re trying to read in a place filled with distractions or on a device that encourages you to skip from tab to tab and answer notifications …

 

Stop Trying To Read Like That!

 

Seriously. It’s not a recipe for success.

Plus, you want to read in a way that helps you isolate the information you want to memorize. I have two posts with podcasts and videos that show you how to realistically memorize a textbook. Just check out the video for now:

Youtube video

If you want more information, listen to How to Memorize A Textbook and study the infographic.

True, my approach to realistically memorizing textbooks involves a bit of setup, but people who give it a try usually find that the process makes reading and remembering the key points of even the most difficult books much easier.

The best part:

By having a dedicated strategy for reading books, you make it a lot more fun. Like having a mindset, having a process you can follow without having to think about it makes everything more fun and interesting. Having operating principles and guidelines reduces cognitive load, and like Tony Buzan said when I studied with him, the rules set you free.

 

3. Look For The Parts That Do Interest You

 

One thing that you’ll learn from my training on (reasonable) textbook memorization is how to skip the parts that don’t interest you.

No, you can’t always do this. There are times when you have to slog through boring stuff you don’t care about.

But here’s the thing: by knowing what you do care about, you get more interested in things that connect with it. It happens automatically.

And when interest doesn’t spontaneously erupt, you at least get a clearer picture of why those other elements are necessary. The more you know about a topic changes the nature of what you don’t know. It makes it more attractive, more Magnetic.

And that which becomes more Magnetic is easier to attach to memory because you’re simply more interested in it.

4. Invite Information Into Your Memory

In other words, use memory techniques.

You knew this was coming, didn’t you?

Let’s face it: The best way to make dry and boring information more interesting is to make it part of your memory improvement lifestyle. That means organizing the information so that you can rapidly absorb it into a Memory Palace.

To do that, you get to invite the information into a place you’ve created in your mind. I don’t want to sound woo-woo, but there’s something ritualistic about this. It’s like anointing information, blessing it or touching its shoulder with the edge of your sword as if you were knighting it.

Once anointed, you start looking at the information through mnemonic eyes. You’re looking for how you can attach it to associative-imagery and place these images on your Memory Palace stations. You’re already getting excited about revisiting your Magnetic Stations and decoding the imagery to ease it into long term memory.

And before you know it … The information isn’t boring any more.

Far from it! That information has become …

 

The Most Interesting Information In The World!

 

This is without a doubt the finest thing you can do for the life of your memory and overall intelligence. When you privilege information and stop demonizing it by framing it in negative ways, it will want to enter your mind.

Even better: If you’ve invited the information in just the right way, it will want to stay.

 

5. Bore Others To Death With Your Boring Topic

 

Just kidding.

By the time you’ve made the information interesting to yourself, you’ll be excited to talk about it and to do that, you should have something already in place:

Community.

Remember how I told you should be grateful for having the opportunity to learn in the first place? And how you can use your gratitude as a tool for generating excitement in even the most boring topic?

Well, you also have the Internet and thousands of groups people have created for discussing topics that they either find really exciting, challenging or want to kvetch about. You can find these groups meeting on forums, on Facebook, G+ or just shooting the breeze in YouTube comments. Maybe there will be some interesting discussion on this video I put together to accompany this post, for example:

Youtube video

Let’s say you’re studying cognitive therapy, something I’ve recently gotten interested in studying.

The first thing is to show some gratitude for having the time and opportunity even to do so. Write that down in your daily gratitude journal.

Then, hop on to Facebook and search for groups that are already discussing this topic. Ask to join. For example, you can ask to join my Learn German Memory Hacks group, or even the Magnetic Memory Method Private Facebook Group. Have fun once you’re inside!

But Proceed With Caution!

 

Don’t overwhelm yourself with this. Just pick one or two that looks like it has enough members for finding a decent amount of discussion in process.

Introduce yourself once you’ve been admitted. Tell them a bit about who you are and why you’re interested in the topic. Make friends with the group admins and shoot them a note to thank them for taking time to put the group together. Probably no one else is doing that so you’ll be on their radar and recognize your name later.

Why would that matter?

Easy. Because when you get bored or stuck somewhere in your reading, you have a place to go and post where at least a few people are going to know your name.

Knowing that you have a place to go and share ideas in advance is a great way of making sure a topic never becomes boring to you.

Of course, the dark side of this technique is that you’ll get swept away doing a thousand other things online, but we all need to learn how to balance these things. I’m writing this post now in a library where getting online is too much of a pain – deliberately so that I have no distractions.

Because here’s the core of the matter:

 

If You Really Want To Get Ahead, You Will Find A Way

 

And with that monster of a headline, we’ve circled back to mindset, something you can get started crafting or refining right now.

Exciting, isn’t it?

Now get out there and tackle some uninteresting information you using these tools. I dare you to be bored!

Oh, and if you’re still skeptical, check out these 3 Reasons Why Skeptics Succeed With Memory Techniques Better Than Anyone Else.

10 Responses to " 5 Ways To Get More Interested In Boring Topics You Have To Study "

  1. Alex says:

    Thanks for some excellent pieces of advice, Anthony. I particularly enjoyed a few points you raised.

    Your advice, “Study anything you want, and follow your passion. Create the mindset to do what you want” is key to success in any aspect of study, mnemonics, business, relationships, and so forth.

    The concept of “Mindset” is fascinating. It’s a notion that has been studied by psychologists (notably Carol Dweck of Stanford University) and philosophers of life. (This takes me back to the presentation in which we discussed Viktor E Frankl and “Man`s search for meaning.”: he was a preeminent thinker on mindset and meaning.)

    In simpler terms, perhaps it’s a question of attitude. The industrialist Henry Ford has been quoted thus: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.” Our perceptions (thoughts, attitudes, mindset, self-doubts, fears, etc.) can truly hobble us. The challenge is to persist and confront the negative emotions, whatever they be.

    Fear (like boredom) is a big stumbling block. However, persistence and sticking to what you want leads to progress. With a little progress, the negative attitudes begin to subside. The outcome is more progress and greater success.

    Your advice on creating a “morning ritual” is also very well founded. We often say we don’t have the time we want to do stuff. The truth is, however, that we’re responsible for every moment of our lives, and we can set aside time to do what we want. Maybe it’s only five minutes, waiting for a bus, but spending five minutes on rehearsing or reviewing matter that is meaningful is not a waste. Take five minutes twelve times a day, and you have an hour.

    As far as reading is concerned — what a true pleasure to enjoy a book, a novel, a poem, a short story. What splendid material for memory places and memory images are found there. I look for ideas and images in books of any sort. So many people are starving themselves of knowledge and literacy, and as you rightly say, “it’s not a good thing.”

    As for the “golden handcuffs principle,” this is not something with which I am familiar. Would you please give me a brief description of what it means? I presume it has to do with mindset and negative attitudes, but I would certainly appreciate you expanding on this.

    Kind regards

    • Thanks for this, Alex.

      I think you’re right that fear is a huge stumbling block. There’s fear of not having enough time, fear or forgetting everything, fear of nothing amounting to much.

      But fear is almost always irrational, or the opportunity for a great lesson when we study the states of fear we find ourselves in.

      Regarding Golden Handcuffs, it’s related to another term I use a lot: Slave’s luck. It’s working hard to achieve a goal you really don’t want. For example, a lot of people go to medical school or law school and do really well. But they’re doing it either because they don’t understand the reality of the outcome or to please someone else. Thus, you might wind up with with a great and “golden” job, but be handcuffed to that job to pay off the debt it cost to get yourself into misery. Or, one is lucky enough to find a position they thought they wanted only to become its slave.

      I’ve come close to both in different ways, and it’s a difficult spot to be in. Best avoided in the first place by seriously studying what one really, really, really wants in life. There’s usually a much more direct path to it than we think.

      Thanks again for commenting and the great thoughts! 🙂

  2. Alex says:

    Thanks for the explanation Anthony.

    (Have you considered making a glossary of terms with explanations and examples? Those who follow it could even make their own memory lane to implant it.)

    images like those you employ are excellent teaching and learning icons (and it’s an idea found in Classical and Renaissance mnemonic methods, so your appreciation of Bruno and other practitioners is shining through – one textbook memory method they employed was to turn every page into a memory palace and fill it with imagery and symbols.. Kind of like Harry Lorayne’s magazine memory method!)

    Anyway I enjoy your thoughtful approaches to mnemonizing academic material and language vocabulary.

    Take good care!

    • I’ve always thought that Golden Handcuffs and Slave’s Luck were common terms, but I might make a glossary for a new website I’m working on that talks more about these issues with less reference to memory – good idea!

      I have certainly done experiments with making things like books and even the pages in calendars Memory Palaces, but it tends to feel too compressed. I like to transport the material off to index cards and then into a Memory Palace, or just directly into a Memory Palace if there will be no scholarly writing involved. This gives space to the information and I think it’s in the space that memory consolidation really takes hold.

      But I may experiment more with it, particularly with the concept of “markers” from speed reading. Using the Major Method, one could make a page a numerical location linked to the physical book without necessarily conceiving of the book as a Memory Palace. It’s kind of half-and-half in that sense and one could think of where the book is on a shelf to find their way back to the Major Method encoding and unlock the associative-imagery linked to the different pages.

      That’s all assuming one hasn’t done the more sensible thing, which is to rehearse the information into long term memory so that the Memory Palace isn’t nearly as necessary – ideally not necessary at all.

      By the way: “Mnemonizing” – great word! Can I borrow it? 🙂

      • Alex says:

        I actually borrowed “Mnemonizing”from Aimé Paris, who published a textbook on “Mnémotechnique” in 1824. 😉 And for having offered so much to so many, I would be honoured if you use it.

        Moreover, unlike Simoniz®, which is owned and trade marked by Simoniz USA, Inc., I offer “mnemonize” or “mnemonise” open sourced to the brotherhood and sisterhood of mnemonizing mnemonizers, be they magnetic or amagnetic. 😉

        In the Paris book, the Major method (or “code chiffres-sons”) figures well indeed. Furthermore, he “verbed” the action of memorizing and metamorphosed it into mnémoniser, from which I derived “mnemonize.” For me it’s the act of encoding and decoding information one wishes to recall. So it is not a synonym of memorize, remember, recall, reminisce or other memory acts; rather, it is the mnemonic activity itself.

        There is a wealth of books, blogs, and material in other languages. For example, there is a German book, which I have not seen, called Esels Welt. Mnemotechnik zwischen Simonides und Harry Lorayne (Beiträge zur Mnemotechnik) Taschenbuch – August 2001 von Ulrich Voigt (Autor). My German is rudimentary,so I would love to see an English version of this work. From what I have heard, however, it offers some splendid food for thought.

        Vielen Dank mein Freund! 😉

        • Thanks for this excellent history of terminology, Alex. I have in the past wondered if we can’t settle on some shared terms, but it seems like the Hydrafication of words amongst mnemonists is here to stay.

          I happen to have a copy of Esels Welt on my coffee table and started reading it before recent travels took me away. I’ve been wondering if the rights might be acquired for a translation. If not, I will eventually put together a full review. With so many good books on memory techniques out there to read, it would almost be a full time job just talking about them all. If only I had a regular memory column in a newspaper or magazine. 🙂

          Back to terminology, perhaps the obvious one for me is right in front of my eyes: Magnetizing the information one wants to remember so it sticks in place like a souvenir to a fridge.

          In an all cases, it’s exciting that the field keeps growing and I’m pondering now whether or not to book passage to the World Memory Championships … have you ever attended? 🙂

          • Alex says:

            No I never have attended a memory competition. I am concerned with the freeze factor; I tend to be a real slow coach when it comes to things of that nature. I tend to be more interested in artistic, philosophical or academic pursuits in memory; so speed mnemonizing is not cup of tea.

            Speed blitz chess on the other hand is rather fun for me, and calls on speed and visual pattern recognition. I am thinking about using some sort of memory grid based on Alphabet method, Journey method, Major method and Story method to mnemonize games, openings, combinations, endings etc. I suppose I could place notable games by Tal or Fischer or whomever in a memory house devoted to each one of these stellar grand masters.

          • This I completely understand – I would be going to hang out, not compete. Then again … the last time I went to hang out, I did wind up competing. You may have heard the story …

            I’ve been thinking about memorizing chess as well, but don’t play often enough to get hopping on an approach to memorizing its elements. But the Major Method would definitely be the key for the spatial organization in a similar way to how I’ve memorized the fretboard on my bass guitar. In many ways, the chessboard and fretted instruments are very similar. “Cracking the code” on one would almost certainly amount to opening up a world of memory techniques for the other. 🙂

  3. Matthew says:

    Thank you Anthony , always an inspiration!

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