I own a sieve.
It's called my brain.
I distinctly remember listening, then reading a book and then months later I listened to it once again. And I couldn't remember almost 90% of what I'd read and, mind you, listened to, earlier. With such a terrible memory, it does cross my mind that I should really give up. What's the point of trying to spend hours trying to learn something when it just washes away mindlessly.
And yet, every single day (almost without fail) I still spend at least 30 minutes learning something.
So why do I bother?
Two reasons, really.
1) I get smarter and faster.
2) Unexpected, practical ideas.
About the faster and smarter bit…
I've realised that my pathetic brain is not so pathetic after all. If I were to spend 30 minutes learning something I was already familiar with, it wouldn't be a big problem recalling more than 50% or even 90%. It's when I run into unknown areas that my brain gets stuck, and remembers little. But if I persist, it remembers more. And then you, I, we all get to a stage where the brain knows the topic quite well.
So for instance, I bought Adobe Lightroom last year. Well, I spent all of last year in Lightroom hell, because I learned little or nothing. This year, fortified with good intentions, I spent 30 minutes a day learning Lightroom. And voilà, about a month later, I'm wondering why I didn't do it earlier. All those klutzy looking photos, all those erroneous ways of storing the photos—all gone. But it's taken me many passes to get to this stage. So yeah, repetition does count if you want to get smarter and faster.
But there's one other thing that's even more interesting—and it's called “unexpected, practical ideas”.
So what's unexpected, practical stuff got to do with daily learning?
Input equals to output, right? Not really, not when you have a mind like a sieve. But no input definitely leads to lousy output. And one of the most underrated elements of output is “unexpected, practical ideas?” So let's take for instance the scenario that unfolded on our walk today. Renuka was listening to some marketing-based audio, when she came up with some very smart ideas for improving our “welcome to Psychotactics” auto responder.
Was the marketing audio related? No, of course it wasn't. And I in turn was listening to what she said, and nodding politely, when the idea hit me for a pre-sell for our upcoming home study of the sales page course (version 2.0). Suddenly in a matter of minutes we were swamped with three, very practical, very doable ideas.
Oh yes, there's this factor of not having time
Nobody has time. Nobody in the history of mankind has ever had time. The people who want to make time, make the time. The others binge-watch “House of Cards” on Netflix. They find ways to get to Facebook. They find reasons and methods to waste the time. This message isn't for those who make excuses. It's for those who are diligent and need that extra push to be super-diligent.
However, it's hard work keeping focused on daily learning unless you get someone else to help along. So find a buddy, or find a group. The more you try to do everything alone, the harder it gets. So first spend at least a little time working on getting yourself someone who will nudge you when you slow down. That way if you miss a day or two, they'll help you get back on the daily learning pattern.
Daily learning solves a lot of problems
And gives you a ton of ideas.
My brain is a sieve.
I'm trying to block up the drainage, 30 minutes at a time.
So should you.
How do you dramatically increase your rate of learning?
And why do we get stuck when we’re trying to learn a new skill? Strangely the concept of boxes comes into play. We move from beginner to average—and then we spin in that middle box, never moving to expert level. So how do we move to expert level? And how can we do that without instruction? Listen to or read about—Accelerated Learning: How To Incredibly Speed Up Your Skill Acquisition.
Wanda Einfeldt says
Great article! Recently I decided I wanted to declutter my home and my mind of uselessness. In the process I had to become more organized and in that process I realized I also needed to prioritize my time. Learning “something” daily is something I have been doing. Getting back to tutorials via youtube or webinars, etc at least once or twice a week is doable for me at this time. Otherwise I try to read an article daily of some sort to learn something new (magazine, book, information website).
Sean D'Souza says
That’s a great move, Wanda.
Radhakrishnan Kg says
Thanks Sean, it takes courage and clarity to say that our minds are a sieve – I acknowledge that, and will follow the 30-minute learning ritual.
Question – Can it be 60-minute learning ritual? Isn’t it practically possible?
Sean D'Souza says
It is. I do it almost every day. I go for a walk that lasts over an hour. That way I end up doing 100,000 steps a week (over 5 million a year). But the reason why I go for the walk is—coffee—and because I can learn stuff. In the afternoon when I go to pick up my niece, I put in another half hour or more to learn French. It’s progressive. I’m in no hurry. No double speed, no super-fast reading.
Manne Larsson says
Just stumbled upon your fantastic site and spent an hour reading your articles (two days worth of learning?).
I’ve been thinking a lot about input vs. output ratios lately. How many podcasts should I listen to for each episode i put out myself? How many blog posts should I read for each one I write? And so on.
Sometimes i feel lazy when my input is much higher than my output.
Do you think there is a case to be made for limiting input?
All the best and good luck