Making connections in your brain between various (seemingly unrelated) concepts requires more sleep and time than you’re likely giving it.
See the paper Human Relational Memory Requires Sleep & Time, by Ellenbogen, et al.
Not Just Facts
I hate the show Jeopardy. I realize how much that puts me on the outside of our culture…
That show distorts the view of what “smart” means. It makes it seem like “smart” means knowing lots of random facts. Sorry dude, that’s just not enough.
I’m not impressed with your ability to spout off the name of every muscle in the body. A parrot can learn to do that.
Make Connections Between Facts
“Intelligence” means that you can make connections between those various facts, interrelate them correctly, see how they influence one another, make correct inferences, and prioritize.
(SIDE NOTE: This is why more people should study mathematics. It trains this exact skill.)
That’s the job of Relational Memory, it makes connections between the different “chunks” of knowledge you have in your head.
You DO need facts! But that’s not the interesting part of learning. The interesting part is what you DO WITH those facts.
Get More Sleep
To maximize your brains capacity to make relations you have to get enough sleep, and you have to give it some time. It is in the “off” periods, when you are not in direct study, that this process takes place.
You can also improve relational memory by Interleaving forms of practice: going back & forth between different types of problems, subject areas, etc.
Now go lift something heavy,