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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!