I think we all can recognize the health benefits of lifelong learning, but I’m still surprised at how many people don’t incorporate intentional learning in their daily routine. When I ask them why, I often hear, “because I don’t have time.” So, I thought I’d share a couple of insights on how to make learning part of your daily routine.
Morning Commute: Podcast
I typically find about an hour of time to digest a podcast between my morning routine and commute. While I am in the process of my morning routine (shower, making breakfast, packing a lunch. etc), I usually opt for an informational story-based podcast such as Stuff You Should Know or Freakonomics. During my morning commute, when I can really focus on listening, I tend to catch up on business news, current events, and politics by listening to WSJ What’s News or Marketplace with Kai Ryssdal.
Mid-Morning Coffee: E-Newsletter
Before I dive into my workday, I like to take ten minutes to enjoy a cup of coffee and get focused for the day. This is a great time to get informed with a business e-newsletter and the perfect way to stay up-to-date on the most current issues. There are so many e-newsletters out there now, you won’t have trouble finding one you enjoy that focuses on a topic you’re interested in. If you want a recommendation, I swear by Morning Brew. Check them out if you want a quick and entertaining round up of all things business.
Lunch Break: Read a Book
I think that lunch is perhaps the most underutilized time in a working professional’s day. It’s a great time to decompress from work for a bit and dive into a book. I center most of my reading time around my passion for self-improvement or corporate strategy, and you can always find me tearing through books such as Start with Why, Never Eat Alone, Blue Ocean Strategy or 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Bonus tip: If you’re feeling especially productive, you could opt for an audiobook and get in a brisk walk while you listen.
Evening Family Time: Social Learning
I wanted to brainstorm how parents could find some additional time for learning after work, yet still be present during family time. For example, if your child is really interested in learning a musical instrument, you could take guitar lessons together, spend time appreciating music history, go to concerts, watch documentaries on your favorite bands, and listen to your old records together. If you and your spouse want to learn more about nutrition, you could take a night class at your local community college, watch a YouTube series and obviously, shop and cook together. Or how about learning a second language as a whole family? Pick one night a week for flashcard practice while everyone cooks a meal together. While you eat, dedicate that time to speaking strictly in the language you’re learning (bonus points if the meal is related to a culture that speaks the language). Oh and of course, be planning a family vacation to practice your new skill.
Misc. Free time: Articles or Brain Teasers
I use microgaps of empty time (i.e. time between meaningful activities that aren’t normally long enough or environments not conducive to get more done or start something new) for learning. This time is perfect for short burst of learning or mental fitness. Examples of empty time could be waiting in line at the grocery store, before you board your airplane or during a commercial break from your favorite TV show. I have a queue in my notes of “five minutes or less” learning opportunities such as saved articles and videos people shared with me or I pull out a trade magazine I saved away in my bag for later. I also like keeping some brain games nearby for these opportunities, like a crossword puzzle app on my phone or a Sudoku book.
I’d love to hear your approaches to how you add learning into your daily routine. Comment below to share your ideas.
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