1. Build your motivation by starting small
I’ve been told by people that they’d love to learn to code, or read a book every week, or pick up a new skill, but the thought of it feels like a huge chore. Just think: mastering how to code; tackling a 750-page book; or developing videography skills.
Our minds automatically go into ‘to-do’ mode, which means, ‘to be done as quickly as possible’. However, that’s not how learning sticks. Set your intention to enjoy the process of learning, which is something that can never be completed, anyway.
Take it one step at a time: read one chapter per day; commit 30 minutes to coding; practice basic editing skills until they become second nature. Remember, consistency is what leads to progress and then to mastery. The tallest mountain is climbed one step at a time.
2. Set aside time in your schedule
We often misuse a lot of our time because we’re not quite sure how to use it efficiently in the first place – that’s where online calendars and planners come in. Making time for learning is an important part of our lives: if we don’t continue to learn, our knowledge and skills stagnate.
Whatever your commitments, it’d be difficult for any of us to say we can’t find 30 minutes each day to engage in something that interests us. If you use a planner, make an appointment-like entry for whatever you want to learn, or put it in your Google calendar, and commit to it as you would to an appointment with any VIP.
3. Ask yourself…
“If I commit to X amount of time for learning each day, how might I benefit at the end of one month, or six, or one year?’
Even if it is just 30 minutes each day, that amounts to three-and-a-half hours of learning each week, which equates to 14 hours worth in a month.
Even if it is just 30 minutes each day, that amounts to three-and-a-half hours of learning each week, which equates to 14 hours worth in a month. By focusing on the bigger picture and how you’ll benefit as the time invested adds up, you’ll not only increase your motivation but also develop discipline as the habit becomes internalised as something that’s valuable to you.
4. Find the gaps and fill them with time for learning
A friend of mine recently lamented, “I’d love to read more, but seriously…I just don’t have the time.”
I set them a challenge. “For the following three days, write down all your activities and the time each of them takes.”
After the three days, my friend came back, “Wow! You know, I’ve spent about three hours per day wasting time doing things like scrolling through social media, checking email, and reading articles on news websites that talk about the same subject.”
Some studies have suggested that we can waste up to five hours in a day. To be clear, this doesn’t include intentionally resting or watching a movie to relax. Time wasted refers to the automatic behaviours that we don’t really notice eating up our time, which usually involve our smart devices. If that time was put to better use, imagine what you could learn and achieve in a month!
5. Have an accountability partner or, better still – share the practice
We do better in our development when we’re held accountable. Whether it’s having a mentor, a gym buddy, or a friend we ‘compete’ with like George W. Bush and Karl Rove, they can help us to stay on track when we feel we’re about to stray.
Another option is to encourage work colleagues or a group of friends to commit to the habit of making time for learning. Creating a book or hiking club, attending a language or dance class together each week, or simply sharing learning experiences on a regular basis can be a great source of inspiration, encouragement, and motivation to keep going.
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