Too often in life, time gets in the way. How many times have we told ourselves, “I’m too busy to learn X…” or “I don’t have enough time to do X…”
We get it, it’s easier said than done. But if we want to upgrade our life and advance our career, continuous learning is a vital ingredient in the process. Luckily, there are science-backed strategies and tactics we can use to fit learning a new skill into our busy lifestyles.
Here are the top 3 proven ways to get started:
1. Figure out why you quit learning in the past
If there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that history tends to repeat itself, unless we do something about it. If you’ve ever quit learning or doing something in the past (which most of us have), try to recall the core reason(s) why you stopped.
For example, when it comes to learning a new language, the two biggest reasons why most people never reach fluency is:
- Lack of time (i.e. commuting, length of language classes, busy schedule)
- Lack of accountability/motivation (i.e. learning alone, wrong method, no feedback)
By understanding why you quit in the past, you can take actionable measures to ensure you’re setting yourself up for success. If commuting was the problem, you can explore learning a new skill online instead of going to classes. If lack of accountability was the issue, you can find an accountability partner or hire a coach/mentor to help you out.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” –Albert Einstein
2. Learn everyday by doing
There’s two strategies here: breaking down your practice into daily actions and learning through immersion.
According to bestselling author, Malcolm Gladwell, “it takes a minimum of 10,000 hours to master a skill.” While you may not be looking to become world-class at the skill you’re learning, the point of this rule is that it’s a marathon.
It’s easy to burn yourself out if you force yourself to learn more than what your brain has capacity to handle. The more sustainable approach that has been proven is to break down your learning activity into a daily routine, where you can spend as little as 15-30 minutes practicing.
More importantly, we should focus on learning through immersion. A study from the National Training Laboratories Institute shows that:
- 5% of what they learn when they’ve learned from a lecture (i.e. university/college lectures)
- 10% of what they learn when they’ve learned from reading (i.e. books, articles)
- 20% of what they learn from audio-visual (i.e. apps, videos)
- 30% of what they learn when they see a demonstration
- 50% of what they learn when engaged in a group discussion.
- 75% of what they learn when they practice what they learned.
- 90% of what they learn when they use immediately (or teach others)
Image Credit |National Training Laboratories Institute
This means that if you want to learn a foreign language, you should focus on practicing with native speakers. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, offer to speak for free at as many local events as possible.
3. Seek professional feedback
When it comes to learning a new skill, there’s rarely a need to reinvent the wheel. No matter what skill you want to acquire, someone else has already learnt it.
All you have to do is model the people who have come before you, and you can avoid the dangerous mistakes that could have cost you years of time to learn the hard way.
In life & business, most of us are comfortable with sticking with “what we know” and “what we know, we don’t know.” But there’s an entire spectrum of the pie that we miss.
It’s the most impactful knowledge we have yet to learn, but it could also be the most dangerous if we choose to ignore it. That’s “what we don’t know, we don’t know.” And this is where mentors or coaches come in, who are there to identify our blind spots and provide us with immediate feedback that is invaluable.
Image Credit |Introhive
The world’s top performers have gotten to where they are by having a coach or mentor to guide them along the way, and your approach to learning a skill should be no different.