Why Did I Want To Learn This Skill?
It’s embarrassing to admit, but before I started this project my knowledge of the world was atrocious. Seriously, I did not know the location of Turkey or Laos. I had no idea that there was a country named Belarus!
When I was younger, geography & world news didn’t interest me. As I grew older, I realised that I should at least have some knowledge of the world. I couldn’t rely on the Olympics to keep me up-to-date with what countries were out there.
I needed to make an effort to learn all the countries of the world.
My Starting Point
Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.Richard Branson
In order for me to understand how much I improved my knowledge of the world, I needed to see just how bad it was. I took an online test to figure out my starting point. Below is a screenshot of my results.
Day 1: 31%
Did I mention how bad my geography was?
For those of you who want to learn all the countries of the world, I recommend that you test yourself and find out your starting point. You can take the test by clicking on the link below. Hopefully, you’ll have a better starting point than mine.
In the test, you will have 15 minutes to type out all the countries of the world. Don’t be disheartened if you score low, hopefully, within a weeks time you too would have remembered every country.
If you protect your routine, eventually it will protect youPiers Steel
Every day I would commit to just one hour of studying the countries. At the end of each study session, I would re-take the same quiz and see if my memory had improved. Below are screenshots of my progress.
Day 2: 48%
Day 3: 56%
Day 4: 71%
Day 5: 79%
Day 6: 89%
Day 7: 100% and with time to spare!
The Tools I used
We have the tools, but we have to learn how to use them.Harri Holkeri
You’re probably wondering what techniques I implemented to see such drastic improvements. I can attribute this to the use of a spaced repetition system (SRS). I go into great detail on improving your memory in another article, but here’s an extract from said article,
Recommended Reading: How To Improve Your Memory
In order for us to combat our forgetful memory, we need to introduce a technique known as the spaced repetition system (SRS). This technique is pretty simple, you repeatedly review the information over a certain amount of time to allow the mind to absorb all of it in. The mind retains more when we regularly revisit the information. Trying to cram everything in one sitting isn’t productive, as you’ll eventually forget all of it by the end of the week. Having a system where you’re able to review the information at set intervals will make your memory last longer.Joshua Galinato – How To Improve Your Memory
Every day for an hour I would review a series of flashcards using the software Anki. Why Anki? It automates the reviewing system. Whenever I would recall a certain country at a faster rate, the software would understand that I’m more confident with this flashcard and the algorithm would update and recall flashcards that I’m less confident in.
Anki is open-source software that has a large community around it. Thousands of people around the world upload their own decks for free so you can use it for your own resource. Fortunately, I was able to find a list of decks related to the ‘countries of the world’. A few of them included maps as well as the flags for each country. You could design your own deck, but to save yourself some time, I recommend you download a deck instead.
Again, I go into great detail on how to navigate around the Anki software in another article. I recommend reading that one if you’d like to take full advantage of Anki.
Recommended Reading: How To Improve Your Memory
Consistency is Key
A good rule of thumb, when you are first learning new concepts, is not to let things go untouched for longer than a day.Barbara Oakley – A Mind For Numbers
As I mentioned earlier, I would review the flashcards every day for an hour. In order for you to succeed in this project, I recommend you do the same.
It is possible to learn all the countries in less time, but in order for you to retain the information, it’s important that you don’t cram your study time, you space out your breaks, and review your flashcards often.
Being consistent is key and it’s a powerful tool to help you achieve your goals.
Recommended Reading: How To Be Consistent
What I’ve Learned
After a week of studying the countries of the world, I was able to recite them all in under 15 minutes. Since undergoing this project I have stepped away from reviewing the flashcards on a daily basis and my memory has declined a little from it.
In order to retain all the information for a longer period of time, it’s important that you keep on reviewing the flashcards until Anki tells you otherwise. There will be a point where you’ll be able to retain the information forever, but it’ll take a longer commitment.
When I started this project I wanted to learn all the countries of the world and I did that. If I was committed enough, I could review the flashcards regularly in order for me to retain the information, but I have other skills I would like to learn. I’m happy with my results and I’ve learned a valuable skill on how to improve one’s memory, not only that, I can finally tell you where Belarus is located!