12 Tips to Help You Apply What You Learn 

If I had a dollar for every non-fiction personal development book sitting unopened on my nightstand or productivity course collecting virtual dust in my downloads folder, I could likely fund a private island getaway right now. Sound familiar at all? 🙃  

Despite my ever-expanding knowledge stash, the pesky little secret is that only a precious few of those brilliant insights actually get applied in my daily life. I get so enamored downloading new information that I neglect weaving past lessons into tangible habits. 

My transformation inches along rather than taking confident leaps forward. Beyond a brief serotonin spike from feeling I “learned something,” my behavior looks identical pre versus post so-called growth. 

But no matter how fascinating insights seem, knowledge alone holds little tangible value without accompanying effort toward real-world implementation. Without applied practice, shiny new models rarely shape improved decision-making or changed automatic reactions when the heat hits. We remain perpetual students rather than doers transforming theory into positive impact.

Luckily, various research-backed methods exist, helping you ingrain more wisdom toward embodiment than making them ornamental accessories in your life. Let’s explore 12 battle-tested techniques to start living your learning rather than accumulating more facts devoid of application!

12 Tips to Help You Apply What You Learn | Featured Image

Why Knowledge Application is Better than Knowledge Accumulation 

Before diving into pragmatic tips, why does ‘apply learning’ beat ‘hoarding knowledge’ for its own sake? Here’s the harsh truth:

  • Pure information consumption keeps us gathering without growing, stuck reading about lives rather than living fully. Application fosters actual ownership. 
  • Learning without consistent applied effort rarely leads to changed habits over time or measurable progress toward goals. Reflection requires regular reinforcement.   
  • The act of actively integrating unfamiliar skills through repeated practice embeds neural pathways we can eventually call on fluidly, leading to mastery exponentially quicker than just gathering facts alone. 
  • Saved content consumption frequently becomes transferrable trivia rather than hard-earned wisdom unless battle-tested through courageously imperfect attempts. Insight emerges through improvising experience.  

So learning serves us best as a servant, not master — a structure supporting expressed behaviors versus an ornament we merely dust off occasionally for show. Let these 12 techniques guide wiser investing in growth!

Tip 1: Summarize and Synthesize Lessons

After consuming new material, distill key takeaways to concise essence rather than getting overwhelmed by information overload. Identify the #1 most actionable gem, then create an “I will…” statement cementing intent to integrate rather than forget this piece of knowledge altogether after a while.

Tip 2: Set External Reminders and Accountability Checks  

Humans forget quickly without review structures, helping sustained effort. So schedule periodic reminder alarms prompting revisiting key concepts learned. Share lessons with others to harness motivation from anticipating proudly reporting progress rather than keeping intentions safely private. 

Tip 3: Start Practicing Obscenely Small 

Execute almost annoyingly tiny incremental action steps tied to lessons or skills straight away, no matter how silly they initially seem. Even investing just 5 minutes reading towards a hallmark book plants seeds leading to the eventual achievement. Don’t wait until conditions seem perfect. Start before you’re ready.  

The key is avoiding fixating on giant, intimidating implementation goals requiring Herculean strength. Build proficiency through baby step reps first, trusting micro gains accumulate into massive transformation over time through simple consistency. Progress over perfection!

Tip 4: Give Yourself Permission to Fail Messily 

When applying unfamiliar knowledge, forgive awkward, inelegant attempts and accept imperfection while you orient to new material. Stumbling publicly through clumsy practice eventually fosters skills that appear effortless after extended reps. Greatness materializes slowly, then suddenly after persevering past primitive fumbling. 

Tip 5: Make It Fun and Engaging

Tie application to innate interests for intrinsic rewards and reinforcement. If numbed by necessary yet boring content like accounting, make it a game leveraging apps tallying progress. Audio lessons absorbed while moving rather than sitting still also boost retention exponentially. 

Tip 6: Teach Just-Learned Concepts  

Prepare to articulate insights to others struggling with similar challenges. Actively sharing serves as the ultimate test of whether you have command rather than hazy surface-level familiarity. 

Bonus: external accountability and expectations produce internal motivation, amplifying follow-through.

Tip 7: Connect Insights to Existing Frameworks 

How to apply what you learn | Decorative Image

Rather than compartmentalizing new data as isolated fragments, consciously anchor foreign concepts to old familiar frameworks for quicker comprehension and recall. Compare book ideas against your own life experiences using visual memory tools like illustration. Translating through metaphors also massively strengthens memory and demonstrates comprehension.   

Tip 8: Commit Definitions to Memory

Ingraining exact terminology or methodology definitions word-for-word creates mental file folders, facilitating quicker connections and recall later when more complex ideas build upon key vocabulary terms serving as building blocks. Quiz yourself randomly on newly learned definitions across weeks.

Tip 9: Turn Facts Needing Memorization into Music

Leverage the magical melody effect by setting tedious formulas, vocabulary, etc., needing rote memorization into clever rhythmic songs or rhymes. Repeating out loud while pairing movement links multiple sensory paths, improving encoding and later information retrieval success.

Tip 10: Talk Over Challenges With Knowledgeable Guides

Schedule periodic dialogue check-ins with mentors, coaches, or trusted peers who’ve already walked terrain you currently find disorienting. Verbalizing difficulties out loud frees breakthroughs and cements lessons explained interactively versus solo confusion stalemates.

Tip 11: Maintain Visual Inspiration Boards

Curate physical or digital vision boards showcasing favorite motivational quotes, images symbolizing core concepts from a newly digested book, or screenshots of post-learning breakthrough moments. Review it often to keep key insights feeling fresh rather than shelved.

Tip 12: Survey Broadly Before Deep Diving

First, soak in a wide breadth of exposure across diverse topics, laying a solid generalist foundation. Then, judiciously deep dive into niche expertise domains most aligned with innate strengths for selective precision and mastery. Multipotentialites can thrive, too!

Bonus Tip

While all 12 tips equip you to elegantly dance between theory and practice, this idea, in particular, served me massively by increasing my learning application: use freshly absorbed knowledge to understand current challenges in your life right now. 

Constantly connecting the dots between old and new embeds insights practically overnight. Suddenly, that expensive course pays dividends through improved reactions and decision-making! The juice becomes so worth the squeeze when nibbles of wisdom bear sweet fruit by intentionally applying against real problems. 

Approach learning as a lifestyle integrating perpetual improvement rather than shackling yourself to agitated frustration when falling short of perfectionist standards. Release attachment to impressing invisible critics. 

Instead, stay curiously devoted to incrementally elevating your best self through consistently taking small, tangible steps towards aspirational visions of your higher future self. Progress inherently surfaces by simply showing up through action. 


Just like any muscle, intellectual abilities strengthen through reps. So stop endlessly gathering with no plan to grow! Pick one neglected concept languishing away unused, then leverage a few techniques above to resurrect inertia. Consistency is everything when cultivating our greatest self. I can’t wait to witness your applied effort stacking up bit by bit! You’ve so got this 💪🏼

Success Minded

Writer & Motivator with a goal of Inspiring and Helping 1 Million people across the globe to reach their goals. Join the largest self-improvement community on Twitter (700K+) over at @_SuccessMinded_

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