7 Strategies to Create a Habit of Learning

Have you ever noticed that when you run into someone you know at Starbucks and ask them how they’ve been, most people give you one of two standard answers? “Good” or “Busy”. Or my personal favorites, “Good, but busy” or “Busy, but good.” 

Let’s face it: we don’t know how to get un-busy anymore. We have too much going on at home and in the workplace. ESPECIALLY in the workplace!

We know the future of work is changing rapidly and we MUST keep up. So how do we prioritize our own learning and development to ensure it becomes a habit?

 It starts with hacking our existing habits to make learning fit. Choose any one of the seven strategies below and you’ll be surprised about how much learning you can add to your already packed day. 

Morning Routine Hacking

Most successful people have a morning routine, whether that involves going to the gym, praying or meditating, or just enjoying the first cup of coffee. Whether you already have an existing routine or want to start one, try waking up just fifteen minutes earlier.  Use it to read an article or just a few pages from a book related to your industry. Depending on the difficulty, the average person takes between two to six minutes to read a page.

 So while you might only be reading three to twelve pages a day, keep in mind that many non-fiction books are fairly short – only around three hundred pages in length. At that pace, you’ll finish a book every thirty to a hundred days which means you’ll read three to twelve books a year! Not a bad result for devoting just fifteen minutes each morning to your learning!

Makeover Your Commute

For most of us, the morning commute is a pure and simple waste of time. But rather than spending it listening to music, catching up on the news, or having a casual conversation with a friend or co-worker, why not put on a podcast episode instead? There are thousands of hours of podcasts available on all kinds of topics and many podcasts take the form of interviews, which allow you to learn from the success and failures of others. Find a podcast related to your industry and take your education on the road! Some of my favorites podcasts are the GaryVee Audio Experience, the Tony Robbins podcast, School of Greatness by Lewis Howes, the Tim Ferris Show, and the Peter Attia Drive podcast. 

Knowledge by Subscription

What’s the first thing you do when you get to the office? Make a cup of coffee and gossip with your coworkers? Browse social media before the boss comes in? What if you started each work day with a bit of education instead? While most of us don’t want to add any more email to our already overcrowded inboxes, be purposeful about subscribing to email updates from an industry leader or coach whose content you enjoy. If you don’t have a particular person in mind, there are also services like NuzzelFeedly, or Flipboard that will send you a curated list of news articles that match a certain keyword or topic. 

Lunch and Learn

Most of look forward to lunch as the time we can take a break and relax. But I’ll bet that you often spend your lunch hour scrolling through Instagram or watching funny Youtube videos. So what if you took that time and redirected it towards your learning? Read an article from an industry leader, watch a how-to video, or put your earbuds in and finish listening to the podcast you started on your morning commute! For lunchtime reading, I recommend Josh BersinAriana HuffingtonBrené BrownRay Dalio, and Adam Grant

Daily Workouts for Your Body and Mind

Whether you hit the gym before or after work, the gym presents yet another opportunity to engage your mind in learning. While you might feel that you can’t workout without a good playlist, try listening to a podcast episode from an energetic speaker instead! And if you really can’t listen to anything, but music when you work out, use that time to review what you’ve learned recently and make a plan to implement the new knowledge as soon as possible.  

Social Media With a Purpose

After a long day at work, most of us can’t wait to wind down with some mindless time spent looking at social media or watching Youtube videos. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t allow yourself a little freedom to indulge in these activities, but what would happen if you spent fifteen or twenty minutes purposefully looking at content that educates or inspires you first? Who knows – those fifteen or twenty minutes could easily become forty minutes or an hour of learning!  I personally enjoy following and consuming content from Gary VaynerchukTom BilyeuGrant CardoneTom FerryMel Robbins, and Oprah.

Self-Directed Courses and Certifications

These days there’s no end to the continuing education courses and certifications you can take. While you can attend classes through a local college, for many working people it’s a lot easier to choose a self-directed online learning program without a hard deadline. That way you can work at your own pace and make learning fit your schedule, rather than the other way around. If you don’t know where to start, try looking up courses on Udemy.

Whether you spend five minute or five hours on your learning each day, what really matters is whether you actually DO something with the knowledge. Most people go to conferences, sit on webinars, read books, watch videos, and do NOTHING with what they’ve learned. If you can devote a small amount of time each day to learning something new and then actually implement it, you will win! Learners are Earners!

Eat to Nourish Your Brain (at Work)

No matter how hard we try to convince ourselves otherwise, eating a bag of chips at our desk does not count as lunch. Unfortunately, professionals often find themselves struggling with a heavy workload, and lunchtime can be the first thing to go. As a culture, we need to stop seeing a solid, well-balanced lunch as a luxury, and see it as more of a necessity. After all, food has a direct impact on our cognitive function, and eating the wrong meal—or failing to eat at all—can derail our work performance. So what can we do?

Plan Your Lunches

Plan for a lunch that will actually recharge you during your workday. Salads, wraps, and sandwiches are simple main courses, and you can supplement with small, nourishing snacks such as fruit, nuts and vegetables. Try planning out your lunches for the week (and doing the shopping) on Sunday, so you’re not scrambling the morning-of for something to bring to work.

Eat the Right Foods

Research has shown that certain foods can actually improve your cognitive function, so if you find that you feel a little foggy as the day goes on or even want a nap, try to work a few of these food items into your daily lunch. Brain-friendly foods include:

• Wild Salmon
• Blueberries
• Nuts and Seeds
• Avocadoes
• Whole Grains
• Beans
• Pomegranate Juice
• Freshly Brewed Tea
• Dark Chocolate

Salmon and nuts can easily be added to a salad for a delicious, healthy lunch, while blueberries, dark chocolate (in small amounts), and guacamole can be enjoyed as a light snack at your desk.

Eat the Right Portions

It can be difficult to strike a balance when it comes to your lunch portions. It’s important not to overeat, but it’s just as important that you get the right number of calories to fuel you throughout the day. Read a nutrition guide, and instead of guessing, be sure to measure each portion of your lunch. This will not only help you avoid overeating, but it will ensure that you’re eating the correct amount of protein, vegetables, and other foods on a daily basis.

If you aren’t getting enough calories—or you’re eating the wrong calories—your work performance can suffer. Help your brain keep up with your busy schedule by eating healthy, nourishing foods, and you’ll see your productivity and overall health improve.

What foods fuel your brain at lunch? We want to know.

Mind Body Career Balance

While so much has changed in two years, this hasn’t. In 2012 Forbes published this insightful article about working out. We believe it still rings true today and make exercise a central part of our lifestyles. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennifercohen/2012/05/08/6-ways-exercise-makes-you-smarter/

Nutrition matters

Today millennials need to be more focused on every aspect of their life than ever.  On this day when the Federal Government is shutdown, we need to really make sure that we are completely balanced so we can have the strength to get to the next level.  It’s tougher and harder than ever before so we need to use all the tools available.  The tool I am personally focused on today is my toughest challenge – nutrition.  Seek tools and tips to get you in the right nutritional place.  Your Mom always told you to have a solid breakfast.  And guess what, she wasn’t lying.

Is enough sleep the new black?

With iPads, iphones, kindles, google, internet and every other info-tech distraction out there are our millennials getting enough sleep.  We all know how it feels to try and hit it hard when we don’t have enough sleep.  We are tired, dragging and not on our game.  If life and success and having it all are about what you bring to the table… you need enough sleep.   Millennials get your rest.  Don’t you remember when your ancient Gen-X parents were telling you to get enough rest for the next day.  Well that is probably one of the best lessons you can learn from them.  If you are not well rested and ready to go, well then you are average.  Who wants to be average?  I know you do not, you have things to do, records to break and ideas to contribute to change the world.  Average is not the new black, but dynamic, smart, authentic, aware and on it are the new black.  So get enough friggin sleep and turn off the iphone when you’re in bed.