Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Use It Or Lose It

If you’ve ever crammed for a test, you may have noticed something odd. Although you may have aced the exam, the information didn’t stick around for long.

In fact, if you were to grab your textbook and notes of your favorite high school subject, you’d probably remember next to nothing. Although you recognize the handwriting, it almost seems like the notes were scribbled by someone else.

How could this be?

Let’s ask the person who found out more than 100 years ago, German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus.

Ebbinghaus was one of the first scientists to understand how memory works through a series of experiments he did on himself.

The scientist would memorize made up lists of syllables, such as: NER, FIN, WAQ, POB, TRA, LEJ, and later tested his knowledge at specific times while logging his findings.

Ebbinghaus discovered that the memory of his syllables quickly faded.

How rapidly did the information leak out of his brain? After studying the material only once, he’d forget over half within 24 hours. And he’d remember almost nothing after seven days.

Ebbinghaus also made a second discovery.

He found out that the speed of forgetting can be slowed down by repeating the learned information at particular intervals. So only by repeating information regularly do you make it sticky.

If you want to retain information, you have to fight your brain’s forgetting curve. Because if you don’t, all the time you spent learning is wasted. 

So before you set out to read an educational book, or enroll in a new course, you have to ask yourself: “Am I studying for fun or for improvement?”

If your goal is to grow smarter, you have to recognize that the learning doesn’t stop after one pass. You’ll have to review the information many times. Which implies a serious investment of time.

So unless you’re dedicated to getting better, or studying for fun, learning is a commitment you must take seriously. 

Learning is a continuous process, not one event in time.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach