How to Keep Learning New Things Even If You’re Crazy Busy
There’s work– from projects to product launches, meetings, and conferences– on top of family, errands, chores around the house, finances, and don’t forget those unexpected events that come up at just the right time to screw with it all.
If you’re crazy busy, but you know that you need to find time to keep learning, how do you make it happen?
Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.
– Anthony J. D’Angelo
Chances are, you’ve probably already tried to make learning a regular part of your life, at least here and there, and it didn’t work out.
Occasionally, you’ll be motivated enough to pick up a book, take an online course, or attend a class only to drop off shortly thereafter.
I’ve had the same issues in the past and, while there are certain tricks, it really comes down to a few core steps if you’re really serious about making learning a regular part of your self-development.
The reality is, the most successful people in the world are that way, in part, because they prioritize learning. In fact, they’re constantly learning about their craft and work feverishly to master every aspect of it.
This is the hard part of this strategy to swallow. There’s really no other way to say it– the most successful people in the world prioritize learning and are crazy about consuming more knowledge that helps them either grow personally or master their craft.
Before you can ever hope to make time for learning consistently, you need to treat learning with a certain level of importance. You need to carve out daily time for learning, like an appointment you can’t miss. If it’s not important enough for you to do this, and you’re already crazy busy, it’s just not going to happen. That’s the truth.
Now that you know the truth about the situation, you might be wondering, “That sounds great and all, but how exactly do I prioritize learning?”
You’d be right to think that just reading about someone telling you to prioritize learning doesn’t mean you’re going to follow through with it. For that, you need to shift the way you think. Specifically, you need to connect the learning and mastering of your craft directly with your personal success.
If you can successfully create this kind of connection, you’ll prioritize learning automatically with little effort. And you’ll stick with it long-term.
How exactly do you do that? Take time to think about what learning has done for you in the past. What did you learn in the past that has helped you now? What would your life and career look like if you hadn’t learned it? Now, think about the new things you can learn and what they can do for your future.
The idea is you want to draw a very clear connection between learning and real-world results. The more you can create this connection in your mind, the more likely you’ll be to go through with (and stick to) the behavior.
Optimize your learning system with podcasts, audiobooks, and online note taking
Now that you’ve connected the learning and mastering of your craft with realizing your definition of success, you need to establish a system that optimizes your ability to absorb the greatest amount of information in a given period of time.
Personally, a system based around a combination of podcasts and audiobooks along with online note taking (particularly voice recorded notes) with something such as Evernote is the most effective system I’ve found by far.
First, jump on Audible and make a list of some of the best books on your chosen subject. Next, head to iTunes or wherever you would listen to podcasts, search based on topic, do a few test listens, and pick the podcasts you like the most based on your subject.
Next, pick one or two optimal times for listening. The best I’ve found by far is while driving, assuming you commute to and from work each day. Pick your audiobooks/podcasts in advance for that day and listen from beginning to end on your drive to and from work. For most people, this will give you at least one hour of listening each day, allowing you to get through one book or more per week or a dozen or so podcasts.
However, that’s just the half of it. You want to make sure you’re absorbing the information as you go, so make sure you have a system for note-taking implemented.
My suggestion? Download the Evernote app on your phone and use the audio note feature to record notes for every book and podcast you listen to. When you get home, take just a few short minutes to organize and review those notes.
If you follow this system, you’ll be able to implement an effective system for learning on a recurring basis while you’re going about your day, making it optimally efficient.