10 ways to speed up your learning.
Let’s start with a guarantee.
If you try tactics in this post, I guarantee you’ll discover a treasure trove of valuable information about any topic that interests you.
Doing so won’t take you much time, won’t cost you any money, and just might improve your work, art, or life forever.
So, pick a topic and let’s get into it…
- Search Google for word combinations instead of individual words.
The more detail you give Google, the more likely it will give you value in return.
If you just search for a broad, general topic of interest, the results you get will be too broad, mismatched to your true intent, and rarely useful.
Instead, search for word combinations that better reflect what you most want to know.
For example, I’m obsessed with newsletters because I run For The Interested and am always looking for information about the newsletter space.
But in particular I’m interested in how to grow newsletters.
So rather than search Google for “newsletters,” I search for more specific terms like “newsletter growth.”
Look at the difference between the two searches and how much more relevant the results are for “newsletter growth.”
LEFT: results for “Newsletter Growth” • RIGHT: results for “Newsletters”
- Follow who other topic experts follow.
One of the best ways to find valuable information on a topic is to figure out who most often shares that information.
A great way to do this once you identify at least one expert on your topic is to look at their social media profiles (especially Twitter) and check out who they follow on the platform.
Every topic expert follows other experts on that topic so scouring their followers is a great way to dive deeper into that world and expand your information sources.
For example, since I have some newsletter expertise you could check out my Twitter account to see who I follow.
BONUS TIP: When you find a good article about your topic, go check out the personal social media account of the author who wrote it.
They will likely be following other people who are experts on that topic.
- Click Wikipedia reference links.
This is especially valuable for historical topics, but also applicable to just about anything.
Check out Wikipedia pages related to your topic of interest, but rather than just read the main Wikipedia page, click the reference links on that page to go to the actual sources of the information.
This will typically lead you to a series of books, magazine articles, academic papers, and interviews all of which offer a deeper dive into the topic.
- Search Google news.
When you search for a topic on Google, the results you get are designed to be the most relevant to your query, but that doesn’t mean they’re the most timely.
It’s worth also searching Google news for the same topic which will generate a collection of the most recent results from media publications and deliver a different set of information than you get from the regular Google search.
- Use Twitter advanced search.
Twitter’s search functionality is powerful and shockingly underutilized.
Use it to see what people are saying about your topic in real-time or historically.
You can also use Twitter Advanced Search to set up filters an make your results even more effective depending on your topic.
BONUS TIP: You can search for any URL in Twitter search and discover a list of people who have shared a specific article.
This is a great way to find others who are interested in that topic as well as more similar articles — if a person shares one great article about your topic, chances are they’ve shared others as well.
- Search Reddit and Quora.
Any site with a built-in voting mechanism to rate content can be a great source of information about your topic because the search results will be content many people found valuable.
They’re both worth searching for your topic of interest.
- Search Facebook Groups.
Facebook search in general isn’t all that helpful, but that doesn’t mean there’s not valuable information to be found on the platform (aside from all the cat memes and baby pictures).
The best place to find meaningful stuff is in Facebook Groups.
Search for Groups related to your topic and you’ll discover a ton of interesting conversations in them — they’re likely the most valuable section of the platform.
You can also search within Facebook groups for content about specific elements of your topic that most interests you.
For example, the Newsletter Creators Facebook group has about 700+ people who run newsletters sharing tips and experiences — it’s an amazing resource for anybody interested in that topic.
- Search Buzzsumo to find the most-shared content about your topic.
Buzzsumo is a search engine that ranks content based on how often it’s been shared on social media.
And the chances are if something’s been shared a lot it’s probably because it delivers more value than the average piece of content on your topic.
- Search micro-niche hashtags on Instagram.
When you come across a valuable Instagram post related to your topic, check out the hashtags it uses.
But rather than search for broad topic hashtags which are unlikely to surface the most relevant or valuable content, search the narrowest hashtags that great post used.
The smaller and more specific the hashtag is, the more likely the content posted to it is to fit your interests.
- Filter a YouTube channel’s videos by “Most Popular.”
When you come across a YouTube video you find helpful, go to the Videos tab on that creator’s channel and filter the results by “Most Popular.”
This will show you the videos they’ve created that generated the most views and increases the likelihood you discover more valuable content as opposed to looking at whatever they happened to upload recently.
Want more productivity tips? Read this next: