Hacking Time to learn

One of the regular pieces of feedback that I get when I discuss training with people is that there just isn’t enough time to learn everything that you want to learn.  I think this complaint often is tied to how we approach continuous learning rather than specific time limits.

One of the things that I have done over the years is to carve out just fifteen minutes a day to pick up something new.  I find that by doing that, and by prioritizing what I want to learn, I can incrementally build on my existing knowledge.  This also keeps the goals manageable and it feels less daunting.  I take the things that I learn this way and put them into practice immediately so that I can get a real world test of what I am learning.

So, how can I learn anything in just 15 minutes?  Here are some of the tools that I have used in the past:

  1. Far and away, my favorite learning tool is Coursera.  At Coursera, you can learn about hundreds of topics from hundreds of schools, often in short video lessons.  I have done a mix of free classes for no credit and paid classes for Coursera credit.  I can see the value of both, but at the very least develop a plan to use this as a learning tool.
  2. TED talks and Ignite presentations.  These are quick and easy ways to watch one video, get a core concept, and also have an avenue for research.  Here is one of my favorites:  Want to innovate? Become a “now-ist”
  3. I am an avid reader and I find that it can be a struggle to incorporate a book into this model.  What I do is that I pick a section or a chapter of a book to read during my 15 minute window.  Some books are so engrossing that I can’t put them down and I just read them over a couple of weekends.  But for a deliberate regular practice, find some books and start a chapter at a time.  I would recommend the following two for a good start: Designing for Growth: A Design Thinking Tool Kit for Managers  and Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time

Prioritize what you want to learn and than develop an approach that works for you using just 15 minutes a day.  The investment in yourself is well worth it and your organization will reap the rewards as well.  And just to put this in perspective, using this method can yield you 65 hours of learning in a year!

What tricks have you picked up to be a lifelong learner?

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