In today’s world, we often think of learning as a linear event. We grow up learning in school, we take tests, we pass or fail, then we choose a career and do some more school, and then we graduate and we know everything. So we get a job and never put any effort into learning anything new again. We’ll I’ve decided that’s just not the way I want to think about it anymore. Learning doesn’t have to be about tests and grades, it should be about stimulating the mind and enriching our lives. Learning should be a lifelong adventure, and one of my goals for 2016 is to try and learn something new everyday.
When you’re a freelancer or an entrepreneur, the best thing is that you’re in charge of your own schedule. You can work when you want to, take breaks when you want to, and prioritize your to do list. So it would seem that scheduling some learning into the day would be easy! The only problem is that most entrepreneurs are really hard on themselves, and work long hours (maybe even longer than typical 9-5 workers), so fitting in ‘non-essential’ tasks like learning gets pushed to the side.
This is something that I’ve let happen myself as well. I’ve been wanting to schedule learning into my day for so long now, but day after day passes that I just don’t find the time. Well, that’s the end of that. I’m writing it in my datebook, marking out a chunk of time, and making it happen.
Think about all the things you could learn if you took just an hour, or half an hour if you’re really swamped, to learn something every day. Especially in the graphic and web design industry, I feel like you can NEVER know everything, regardless of how long you study. Trends are always evolving and best practices are always changing. To stay up to date and doing the best possible work you can, it’s vital to keep learning. And this can be said for a lot of other fields as well.
In all honesty, the hour of learning you schedule in your day doesn’t even have to be related to your field. Maybe you really want to take up yoga, or you want to learn how to write calligraphy. Learning stimulates the brain and will make you better at your job – regardless of what you learn! Heck, you could learn how to speak cling on and it would still make you more productive that day (regardless of what field you’re in), not to mention that you’ll end every day with skills that you didn’t have before.
I’m no scientist – but there’s been real research that proves learning stimulates your brain. Learning also makes you happier, more alert, and more productive. It seems a little counterintuitive I know – taking an hour off your work will actually make you get more done – but it’s true. Taking that hour off to stimulate your brain will mean that for the rest of the day it’s working at top capacity, not to mention you’ll be happier while you work as well.
So stop saying ‘I really want to start…” or “I really want to read about..”. You likely say things like that all the time – I know I do. So stop putting it off and start today. Make a list of everything you want to learn and put it up where you can see it. Some of these items should be related to your field, but also include some things that aren’t related at all (you can’t be working all the time). Then take some time to research how you’re going to learn these things. Maybe there’s some online courses you can sign up for, or some books you can check out of the library. Maybe you can even go to some in person workshops in your area. Now schedule time into your day, every day, to learn.
I’d say learning in the morning would be best. Far too many days I say, today I’m going to learn something when I’m finished my work, but by the time I’m finished I’m too tired or unmotivated to do anything else, so I just quit. Schedule time in the morning and start your day off with an hour of learning. It will stimulate your brain and keep you working at your best for the rest of the day. I’m writing it into my planner right now, no more waiting or pushing it aside. I’m making it happen – and you should too!