Efficient Learning with the Feynman Technique

Published on Sunday, 3 February 2019

Today's post is about learning new things more efficiently, i.e. wasting as little time as possible on learning. I use the Feynman technique, named after the physicist Richard Feynman. Feynman was known for his ability to break down complex facts into their core message and to convey them very easily.

You certainly know the concept of being able to explain things to others in order to better understand them yourself. That's exactly what I'm doing with my blog and that's also the goal of the Feynman technique. Feynman's focus is on not tricking yourself, after all, you don't fool anyone as easily as you do yourself, but to really dig into a topic.

With the Feynman technique you can not only learn, you can also check how well you really understand a topic and how well you can apply it in practice.

The Feynman technique can be broken down into four different iterative points.

1. Take a piece of paper and write the name of the topic at the top.

I think this step is quite simple. After the four steps have been completed, you will end up with a page on which the idea is documented in its main features and in a way that is easy to understand. So a heading makes sense.

2. Explain the concept in as simple sentences as possible

Be sure to keep the description brief and choose your wording so that someone without technical knowledge could follow your instructions. Include examples in your description and try to understand them. Don't be satisfied with just the definitions!

3. Identify vulnerabilities

Then go back to step two and go into these passages until you have mastered them as well as the rest of the concept.

4. Focus on complicated technical terms and try to simplify them

Explain the thoughts behind technical terminology. Imagine telling a child something and questioning everything with a "why".

With these four steps you should be able to break down complex facts to an easily understandable level and keep them in your head for a long time.