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Currently I treat self learning like college. I read books, take notes and test myself. However, I am not finding this effective, as whilst the motivation is there (love of the topic, wanting to learn, etc) I have negative feelings about it due to treating it like college work.

What are your techniques for self learning?

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This are just some aspects that have been working for me as an adult learner, I wish they may be somewhat helpful to you.

Define the use of the information

Before staring any learning project I always assess what I need to do with the information. Do I simply just need to know it, or just be able to combine it with some other pieces of information, or be able to criticize it, or even be able to create something new from it. It's important to know what I called your "learning verb" before learning cause that can affect your approach considerably. To learn more, read up on Bloom's Taxonomy.

Cultivate a higher meaning

In college we study for grades. In adult learning there is no grade. I believe it's crucial to have some form of advanced reasons for your learning. It can be to build up your legacy, to feel a certain state of mental excitement, to prepare for a professional exam, etc. For me, I usually base my meaning on being able educate others.

Learn multiple subjects simultaneously

This may not work for someone but I need to learn multiple things the same time. For i) it's less likely to bet bored and ii) sometimes different subjects can form amazing synergy or interesting contrast. For instance, if you learn programming and Spanish, you can write a program that process Spanish texts, or you can try translating some programming text into Spanish.

Build up your repertoire

Be ready to show what you have learned and what you can do. When you told your employer that you have learned something, and he/she asks what you have done, you CANNOT just hand in a copy of your self-tests based on the books' questions at the end of each chapter. Think up creative ways that you can showcase your knowledge: professional qualifications, blogs, relevant work experiences, small but nicely functional projects, pieces you have created, etc.

Record your progress

A lot of us may overlook documenting our learning progress but it's actually amazingly helpful to me. A day is long, but a year is actually quite short. We can have done and achieved a lot without even noticing any progress. A small reminder for each little achievement in learning can become a powerful motivation (and a repertoire itself) when you feel running out of gas.

Incorporate what you learn into your life

I think for myself the most important point is to apply what I learn into everyday life. I read other people's blogs, try to answer questions of others, join and form interest groups, perform in front of other people etc. Once the materials you have established a closer connection to you life, you're less likely to feel bored and quit.

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The most important thing is to be active with the material multiple times. For me, this meant when I had to learn a book: - First reading and underlining; - Then making a summary by hand; - Then making a summary on the pc; - Finally crunching down on this summary.Got me through university without resits.

However, for you (and based upon the kind of information you have to learn) this might be different. It took me a few iterations to get it right myself. Try out a few things, stick with what works, let go of what doesn't. And remember, repetition is key.

In general, I would always advice to study in a library-like facility and not at home/in your dormroom, as that space should be reserved for relaxation. This also gives you the opportunity to make study-dates. That social aspect can be very important, especially when you're studying for the same subject.

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The key for me might seem simple, but it works. Its as simple as knowing yourself. Self learning gives you the benefit to learn how you learn best without having to accommodate an entire class. For me I learn extremely well from quick videos and audio. So to learn something I might watch a History Channel presentation or for a skill maybe go to Youtube and watch a clip. After learning, I try and put it into practice. I try to tell people the interesting facts or information I learn, whether I'm at dinner with some friends or just texting. For my self learning, I learned how i learned best first. After that, I chose that method then shared it with others.

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Well, I'm currently self studying for the CompTia A+ certification AND a real estate license in my state.
The main thing for me is staying MOTIVATED. When you're not in an official classroom structure and you don't have deadlines enforced on you, you find you'll feel less of a sense of urgency to get things done which may cause you to procrastinate.
Discipline yourself and stick to your scheduled studying routine. Treat your self-studying as you would if you were paying top dollar for it! Stay motivated: before you study, read a quote or listen to inspirational audio. Reward yourself! And ultimately, keep your eyes on the prize!

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+1 for advising the OP for staying MOTIVATED. – Enthusiastic Student Jul 25 '15 at 15:54

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