By Carson King
Updated: November 30, 2020
Do long, bland paragraphs bore you to death? Are lectures a hellish nightmare, and reading a textbook the equivalent to standing in The Hunger Games?
Welcome to the VLC—the Visual Learner’s Club. Here, we plot our rise to power against those pesky Kinesthetic and Auditory learners. We band together as brothers and sisters of war—united by our hatred of professors who do nothing but talk during class.
Below, we have collected the most precious tips from around the world, that every visual learner absolutely—indisputably—needs.
1. A visual progress
“Practice the philosophy of continuous improvement. Get a little bit better every single day.”
– Author Unknown
Being a visual learner isn’t just about visual learning. It’s about visual everything. Learning, living, dealing with goals, schedules, etc. Rather than simply being confined to “learning,” it encompasses everything you do. It’s like your brown eyes or blond hair—you carry it wherever you go.
Thus, it’s your sacred duty to make this entire “process” visible. Taking notes, reviewing notes, setting goals . . . as a visual human, tint the odds in your favor by making things visible.
- Write or draw out your goals
- Keep your goals in visible locations
- Review your progress each day
- Bullet journal
- Notebook, studybook, Google Docs, presentations
- Try study-tracker apps
One of the greatest pleasures of life is “checking off” one’s goals. This provides positive feedback, keeps the “good-habit-train” running, and hands you a brief dopamine rush.
Keep your progress visible!
2. Reward progress!
“Progress is progress. Recognize what you’ve accomplished. Reward yourself. Don’t compare. Love yourself. Always keep going.”
– Diana Haymond
When your dog obeys a command, they receive a doggy treat. While you may simply want your dog to sit, your dog simply wants the treat. It cares nothing for sitting. For the dog, it’s a simple economical transaction. He sits, he gets a treat. End of story.
This constitutes the Law of Reward and Punishment. Cause-and-effect. Yin and yang.
By “hacking” the reward center of your brain, you’re quite literally hacking your way to success. When setting up rewards:
- Be clear and specific
- Crave the carrot you give yourself
- Be willing to sacrifice a “lesser evil for a greater evil”
- No excuses
- Encourage yourself to go the extra mile using a rewards system
Oreos aren’t exactly “healthy.” However. If eating a few oreos gets you an A+ instead of a B-, the sacrifice might be worthwhile. Experiment, try a few things out. Rewards range from extreme and time-consuming to small and cheap. There’s thousands of ideas:
- Extra screen time
- Food items
- Movie night
- Writing “good job!” in your journal
Want more reward ideas? Here’s 155 rewards that’ll blow your mind away.
When you reward yourself for good behavior, you create a cycle of success.
3. Take advantage of pictures and videos
“A picture is worth a thousand words.”
If you can, avoid:
- Pictureless books
- Bland power points
- Babbling professors
Ok . . . it’s obviously not always easy to avoid those things (it seems 95% of school is simply those three things, tied with ribbons and given fancy names) However. As the wonderful human you still are, you still have power over a few things:
- How you take notes
- How you study at home
- How you review
- How you use your time
Especially as a visual learner, these items are as essential to you as the four elements are to the Avatar. Without each one, you will fall out of balance, and the world will burn in your failure. So . . .
- Draw concepts instead of writing them down
- Favor documentaries
- Explore YouTube
- Use graphs, charts, symbols, pictures
Doodle your notes for good karma!
4. Color code
“For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned.”
– Benjamin Franklin
Stop at the red light. Go on green.
Harness the language of color in your pursuit of academic excellence. The art of taking organized, colorful, and vibrant notes in class is like investing in Bitcoin in 2010. There is a literal goldmine of note-taking tips, hacks, and resources that can transform your notebook into one like Leonardo da Vinci’s.
- Using Google Docs as your “notebook” allows you to easily create titles, add images, insert links, and colorize text
- Drawing pictures with your notes can improve your memory of that concept by 250%
- Using different colors of pens and highlighters, connect information to color, creating a deeper link with your memory
- Replace words with symbols or abbreviations
You don’t need to be an artist, or even like art, to establish a stunning note-taking system. Whatever you do, however, make sure you enjoy it (at least, more than before). Perhaps you need to buy a new notebook, or improve your handwriting.
Regardless, turning your notes into a treasured resource, rather than a crappy, bland, ill-sorted notebook, will go a long way.
5. Concept maps
“Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.”
– Leonardo da Vinci
In the most dire circumstances, it may not always be possible to draw a picture, watch a YouTube video, or buy some different colored highlighters. Regardless, the fight is far from lost, and hope still lives.
Connecting a “bit” of information, to another “bit” of information visually (especially while note taking) will drastically improve your performance.
Lets say, you’re trying to remember the Battle of Lepanto was in 1571. Unless you’re Bob Ross and can capture the whole incident with a stroke of the brush, most students would throw away any “cheap hacks” and struggle to memorize the fact with brute force.
Seek to memorize connected facts.
What else happened in 1571? Well, many things.
- Moscow was burned
- Wolfgang Ratke was born
- The Royal exchange opened in London
So instead of the small pill of information: Battle of Lepanto: 1571, you now have a third wheel; Moscow burned: 1571. Sometimes, memorizing more can actually make memorizing easier. You now have three “grips” or “holds.” Whereas before you may have forgotten about Lepanto, you can remember Moscow, and mentally link that with Lepanto; it’s like riding a tricycle vs a bicycle.
Everything is connected!
“I never hit a shot, not even in practice, without having a very sharp in-focus picture of it in my head.”
– Jack Nicklaus, World Champion Golfer
Visual people have a powerful imagination. Why not use it to your advantage? Taking a small breath, and momentarily visualizing your notes is like adding strawberry to your bowl of cereal. Not only does it “spice up” your boring “note-taking” system, but it also improves memory! Other benefits include:
- Can be done anywhere
- Reinforces neural pathways (on that subject)
- Improves mood
- Supports mental health
- Increases mental capacity
The five-second habit, of closing your eyes, and seeing the Battle of Lepanto happen in your mind—with the number 1571 floating in the sky—is a certain path to victory. Whether done briefly after you take a note, as you shuffle through your flashcards, or during an eight-hour meditation spree like a Buddhist monk, the benefits are astonishing.
7. Dabble in the other elements
“It is important to draw wisdom from different places. If you take it from only one place it becomes rigid and stale.”
– Uncle Iroh
You may be a Visual Learner at heart, but few things are ever so black-and-white. By experimenting with the other learning styles and unique techniques, you can blend together a new style of learning that is completely your own. Thousands of “tips and tricks” circulate the internet every hour. Some include:
- Listen to study music to help you concentrate
- Repeat concepts out loud
- Make a silly song, or play-on-words to memorize ideas
- Touch and “feel” concepts as best you can
- Research other study methods
- Study in a group or social environment
For a more in-depth look at other tips, check out this link.
8. Habitual greatness
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
None of these tactics will work, given only a day or two of effort. This is a three-course meal, not a dose of marijuana. Without a firm foundation, the Empire State building would’ve collapsed a long time ago.
Turn these tactics into habits.
- Create Trigger → Action → Reward based habits
- Have “visual triggers” to trigger the habit like going to the library for a change of scenery, using a special notebook, etc.
- Identify obstacles that could prevent you from this habit—and overcome them beforehand
- Remember to reward
- And so much more!
The game plan
Being a visual learner is a wonderful opportunity—equipped with imagination and a knack for images and videos—and so you’re now ready to create your own, customized study plan. Good luck, and remember these points:
- Visualize the progress (habit journals, dairies, calendars, to-to lists, etc)
- Reward progress
- Take advantage of images and videos (add pictures to your notes, use YouTube and documentaries)
- Color code (organize and notes with colors, sources, symbols and imagery)
- Use concept maps (connect information)
- Visualize (small habits, or nightly ritual)
- Dabble in the other elements (experiment)
- Find habitual greatness
Now go turn on your favorite music, and make today the day you change your life! Huzzah!