By Phil Chambers

Studying can be hard at the best of times, but when you have to combine it with full time work and family commitments it becomes even harder. Wouldn't it be great if you could reduce the amount of time spent studying but still understand and remember all the course content. It may sound impossible but with some simple techniques that is exactly what you can do.

I run a company called Learning Technologies Ltd that specialists in teaching thinking and effective study skills. So, when I joined the CIPD it was only natural that I employed the techniques. My company is based in Staines, so I enrolled on the Certificate in Training Practice (CTP) through Open Learning at nearby Thames Valley University.

My key to covering the material in the manuals was a technique called Mind Mapping - a graphical representation of your thoughts designed to improve clarity and retention of information. Mind Maps are sometimes dismissed as 'playing' due to the fact that they use colours and pictures. However, there is good psychological evidence that shows that colours and pictures dramatically improve recall. In fact, Mind Mapping follows a number of specific laws all of which are based on research into how the brain works:






One of the consequences of simply using key words is that Mind Maps are remarkably compact. Obviously it is much easier to revise from a one page Mind Map than a thick textbook! If you combine Mind Mapping with Speed Reading, as I did in my studies, then you can also cut the time spent studying by up to a half.