At some point in life, nearly everyone decides to learn something new. But if you’re like most people, you’ve probably been bitten by the curiosity bug, only to realize that you didn’t have the time to pursue your new goal.
What if we told you that despite your busy schedule, there are ways to find the time to learn new things?
This article outlines ten such tips that can help you commit to this habit. Read on to find out more about why it’s important to learn something new, and about how you can find the time to do it.
What Is Time Management?
Time management is the process of planning out your schedule in such a manner that you consciously control how much time you spend on various specific activities. In other words, it is the ability to use your time effectively and productively. Although time management is typically considered as a professional skill, it can be greatly useful when applied to your personal life as well.
Why Is Time Management Important?
Managing your time effectively can have various positive effects on your life. Some of the many benefits of time management are listed below.
- You get more stuff done during the day
- You’re less stressed out
- Less time is wasted
- You end up having more time to spare
- You feel calmer as you’re in control
- It improves your reputation
- You have more time for the essential things in life
Why Learn Something New?
If you’re unsure about whether learning something new can be beneficial for you, here are some reasons why you should consider doing it.
It Alters the Chemistry of Your Brain
Learning new things brings about positive chemical changes in your brain. There’s something called myelin in the brain. It’s also known colloquially as white matter, and it plays a significant role in determining how your brain performs various tasks.
The more you learn and practice a new skill, the denser the myelin in your brain becomes. Eventually, this improves your ability to learn new things and to retain information.
It Could Reduce Your Risk for Dementia
Much like how physical exercise keeps your body healthy, stimulating yourself mentally keeps your brain from deteriorating. It prevents demyelination of the brain, which is a condition in which the myelin or the white matter grows thinner.
This condition has been linked to dementia, which is an illness when you begin to forget a lot of information as your brain starts to have trouble remembering things. Since learning new things makes the myelin in your brain denser, your risk for dementia reduces significantly.
You Have Something to Look Forward To
Learning is refreshing, and it gives you something to break the monotony of everyday life. It makes you feel like your brain has been renewed, and it offers a healthy distraction from the humdrum of everyday life.
And instead of heading home to work with nothing interesting to do, you have something cool to look forward to each day. Above all, it acts as a welcome change from your everyday routine.
It Makes You an Interesting Person
When you learn something new, it also adds more layers to your personality. As your awareness about various subjects grows, so does your ability to hold a conversation on various topics.
People then begin to look up to you as someone who is well-read and knowledgeable, and it makes you appear more interesting from their points of view. It also gives you a chance to affect the lives of other people positively, and above all, it gives your self-confidence a boost.
Aside from these reasons, you should also consider learning something new because it stimulates you intellectually, opens up new avenues, and improves the quality of your life.
10 Tips for Finding Time to Learn Something New
Now that you know the importance of learning something new, let’s discuss some tips that can help you achieve this goal each day.
1. Wake Up 30 Minutes Early
A quick tip to manage your time well is to make sure you have a bit more of it. And what’s a better way to do this than to wake up a little earlier than you usually do? Even a small change like waking up 30 minutes earlier can give you more time to learn something new in the morning. And starting your day on such a positive note makes it more productive.
2. Work Right After the Work Day
Instead of deciding to get home after work and sitting down to learn something new, try working on it as soon as your work for the day is done. Head to a local library or a quiet space and do your learning for the day. This way, you’re not tempted to lounge, relax, and postpone the task for later, as delaying it often only means that you may never get around to doing it.
3. Get a Friend Involved
Getting a friend involved can make you more efficient at learning something new because it makes you accountable to someone other than yourself. There are two ways in which you can do this. You could get your friend involved by asking them to join in on the learning with you, or you could appoint them as the person in charge of checking in on your progress. The former only works if your friend is interested in the subject, while the latter works regardless.
4. Use Your Commute
The commutes to work and back home are when most people have a lot of time to spare. So, if you have a long commute on one or both ways, it’s a great opportunity to catch up on your goal for the day. If you use the public transit system, or if you take a cab home, you can listen to podcasts on the subject, watch video lessons, or even simply read up on it to gain more knowledge.
5. Eliminate Distractions
When you designate a particular window for learning, make sure you eliminate all other distractions that could keep you from being efficient. Turn off all technology (unless you use it to learn, of course), shut out outside noises, and focus on the task at hand for the allotted time. You’ll find that this helps you learn in around 30 minutes what could otherwise have taken 2 hours when you multi-task.
6. Use Your Lunch Hour
Taking a longer lunch can help you catch up on your learning. Take an early lunch and use up half the time to read something on the subject you’re learning or to listen to podcasts on the topic. Doing so can help you get back to work and do things more efficiently because you have a sense of accomplishment. Moving your lunch hour up also allows you to do your learning before your colleagues join you.
7. Bring It with You
Most skills and hobbies can be learned on the move. If the tools you need to learn something new are portable, it’s best to bring it all with you when you head to work or go out for a meeting. You never know when you may be forced to wait for prolonged periods and having your learning materials with you at such times can help you use the waiting period effectively.
8. Make It Part of Your Routine
Integrating a new skill or a habit into your routine can make it much easier to stick to it. A good way to do this is to allocate a set time window for this either at the beginning of your day or at the end when you’re winding down after work. Introducing this habit as a part of your morning or your evening routine can make it easier for you to learn something new.
9. Be Honest about Your Use of Time
Unless you take stock of the situation from an honest perspective, you’ll not be able to correct the areas where you’re going wrong. If you find that you aren’t able to successfully learn something new, take a step back and analyze how you’re using your time. Look for the time slots where you seem to be wasting some time or spending it on inessential things and rework those areas.
10. Make It Easier
When you look at the larger picture, it can get overwhelming as you realize that there’s a long way to go before you master a new skill. But it’s easier if you focus on smaller goals. So, break up your ultimate target into shorter ones, and take it one step at a time. Make it easier by setting daily or weekly goals, creating a to-do list, and by not being too hard on yourself.
You don’t have to follow all the tips to make the idea work. It’s alright to pick a couple or more from these techniques and stick to them because consistency is key.
When you’re first starting out, it’s likely that you’ll have some slipups. But what’s important is that you don’t let them get you down. Instead, brush past them and focus on doing better the next day.