Manage Your Learning
Continuous learning is essential for developing a thriving business. But often, busy entrepreneurs find themselves stuck in one of two camps. They’re either far too busy to make time for learning, or, they are always distracted, sometimes overwhelmed, by the vast array of learning material available.
I fall into the latter category. I’m obsessed with learning. I love books, online courses, tutorial videos on YouTube, and then there’s Pinterest… don’t get me started on Pinterest! Left unchecked, my Pinterest addiction could seamlessly transition into a full-time occupation.
If you are someone who struggles to carve out time for learning or like me, you sometimes find yourself reading about things rather than doing them; there is a solution.
You need to strategically allocate learning time. When that time arrives, you need to soak up content like an extraordinarily efficient sponge. You need to become a learning machine.
Here’s how you are going to do it.
Defer Content Consumption
The most efficient way to manage your learning, particularly when it consists of consuming online content, it to batch it up and consume it later.
My favourite tool for collating articles, blog posts, podcasts and other useful resources is Pocket.
Pocket is a “read it later” tool. Through a neat Chrome browser extension, or via the Pocket app, which is available on all devices, you can send content to your free Pocket account quickly and easily.
Deferring content consumption is useful if you get distracted by interesting articles when, for example, working on client projects. You know you can save them for later quickly and easily, allowing you to refocus on the project in hand.
The next step is to schedule time for consuming your deferred content. It might be a set time every day or perhaps once a week. Ensure you do this at a time when you are receptive to learning. For me, it’s between 9.00pm and 10.00pm every day.
Bonus: Pocket links seamlessly with Buffer, so once I’ve read something good, if I want to share it on my social media, I send it straight to Buffer.
If you are easily distracted, whether this is during your allocated learning time or not, make use of an internet, social media and app blocker such as my favorite, Freedom.
Freedom works on iPhone, iPad, Mac and Windows computers. You can schedule set “blocking” times quickly and easily, as well as blacklisting websites that distract you often.
Freedom improves my focus dramatically and allows me to process and consume content more efficiently. It’s a vital part of my Learning Machine Toolkit.
Different people learn in different ways. You might have a preference for diagrams and images (a visual learner) or perhaps you are more of a read it/write it down, learner.
Just because you have one particular preference, don’t let that stop you experimenting with other learning modes, for example, audio.
Audio is particularly useful for busy people who perhaps only have time to consume content during their daily commute. If this is you, download some audiobooks and podcasts, plug in your headphones and off you go.
I highly recommend a subscription to Audible for audiobooks. Also, pay your local library a visit. Many offer free audiobooks.
If you’ve never listened to a podcast before, get Google searching. Type in your niche, followed by “podcast”, and prepare for a treat. It would be rude for me not to recommend my own podcast at this point… Creative Me.
Organise Your Learning
Trello is one of my favourite tools for organising, well, anything.
I’ve set up a “Learning” board on Trello to keep track of what I am working on and what I’ve completed.
I’ve made a board template, just like mine, which you can copy to your own Trello account.
This GIF shows you how:
If you are not a Trello user, and you struggle with organisation, you need to become a Trello user pronto!
Hit the button at the end of this post to access and copy my Trello board.
Over to You
What about you? How do you organise your learning? Do you struggle to make time to learn? Are you in a constant state of content overwhelm? We’d love to know - please tell me in the comments.