How to use your learning style to maximize productivity

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Everyone learns differently, and the four learning styles classify people into visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and reading / writing learners. Although they are mainly mentioned in educational circles, they are still just as important in the world of work.

Let’s take a look at the different learning styles and how understanding which one is yours can maximize your productivity.

Visual learning style

Illustration of graph and diagram on computer screen

If you are a visual learner, you can absorb information better through diagrams, illustrations, maps, charts, and other graphics. If you are looking at a block of text and have trouble remembering all the details, but looking at a board with the same information sticks out in your mind, this might be your learning style.

It’s not always possible to control the format of the work your coworkers send you, but you can develop ways to convert it into visual designs that make sense to you. You can also adapt the way you approach your own tasks.

Related: How to Change the Default Event Color in Google Calendar

When planning your upcoming weeks, you can choose to color-code your calendar appointments. It works for visual learners because you can get a quick mental overview of the types of tasks you have on your schedule. Just select a category, such as “Meetings” and choose a color you want to associate with it. On Outlook and Google Calendars, you create as many as you want.

Another tip is to use apps like Miró to design diagrams instead of generic project lists and plans. Miro comes with plenty of templates you can work on, or you can start from scratch with a blank board.

The auditory learning style

Photograph of a keyboard, computer, mouse and headphones

You could be an auditory learner if you remember more when hearing instructions and when speaking in meetings. Using sound and audio in your daily work, such as phone calls instead of emails, can help you catch ideas faster.

Many Microsoft applications have a Read aloud option, which gives you the ability to turn onscreen text into automated speech. On Outlook, just select an email and click the button Read aloud option on your toolbar.

Likewise, on Microsoft Word, you can do this by highlighting the text, going to the Review tab, and clicking on the Read aloud option there. You can also use the Dictation feature in Word to turn your own speech into text.

Related: Have Microsoft Word Read Documents Aloud

There are plenty of text-to-speech apps you can choose from to turn your text-to-speech workload into more manageable sound, which can be useful if a specific app you’re using doesn’t have this built-in.

Listening to music while working has also been shown to help audio learners, especially if it is continuous and instrumental. This is because it allows you to focus and blocks out other annoying sounds.

The kinesthetic learning style

Photograph of a person using a touchscreen tablet in the office

Being a passive receiver of information is not sufficient for this style of learning; they like to actively practice a skill and create a personal experience. Incorporating the use of touch into your work can be difficult, especially if you work in an office, but many modern technologies have made it easier. If you prefer to be hands-on and use tactile options, you could be a kinesthetic learner.

Whiteboards are a good choice for this type because you can physically manipulate the work you do and allow you to participate in it. You can opt for whiteboards during meetings, when planning a project, and when communicating ideas to others. There are a range of whiteboard apps available, including Miro, the whiteboard feature in Zoom, and Microsoft Whiteboard.

Related: How to Use the Whiteboard in Zoom

On top of that, you can use the touchscreen integrations that come with many digital devices. This can be a computer with a touchscreen option, a tablet, or a phone. This removes the “man in the middle” from using a mouse or cursor and connects you directly to your on-screen work.

Participating in tasks and movements, in general, is a great thing to do if you are a kinesthetic learner, and can bridge the gap in focus and productivity.

The reading / writing learning style

Photograph of a person writing in a notebook

Read / write learners are the expert note-takers of the workplace, and if you like your work to be presented in words, this might be the best approach for you. Office environments naturally incorporate reading / writing styles, but you can still reach your potential in any other setting with a few tweaks.

Trying to write down everything that is discussed in a meeting can be difficult and often distracts your attention from what’s going on. Otter.ai is a digital transcription app that generates rich notes from speech so you can join the conversation and review the notes later. You can also integrate it into Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and Cisco Webex.

Related: Transcribe Your Meetings in Microsoft Teams

To communicate with your colleagues, you can also opt for chat functions, like those of Microsoft Teams, Soft, and other channel-based messaging platforms. Not only that, but you will be able to read what your team tells you, while also enjoying the option of typing your response.

If your workplace doesn’t use these platforms, you can turn to text messaging apps like WhatsApp or send an email instead of picking up the phone. This usually prompts your recipient to respond using the same platform and gives you space to think about your own responses.

Know your learning style

Now that we’ve discussed the four learning styles, you may already know which one you prefer. If you’re not sure, try using the tips from each of the styles to determine how you work best. You may identify with more than one of them, and in that case, you can implement a combination of them in your work.

Rather than trying to do what everyone else does and get away with it, understanding how your brain receives information can optimize your productivity levels, and you might discover other techniques that will help you along the way.


person writing on white paper
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