For most professionals, the workday is measured by how much you get done. Every moment that isn’t spent working seems like time wasted. But there is evidence that investing time each day in learning something new can drastically improve your productivity and problem-solving skills in the long-term.
In the long run, the brightest and most effective people are those who are lifelong learners. Learning enriches our understanding of the world, sheds light on new opportunities, and improves our quality of life. Ready to devote some time to becoming a lifelong learner? Here are some secrets to high-impact learning:
Make time for just learning.
Scheduling downtime to explore new ideas through reading, having deep conversations, attending classes or seminars, or just observing others can help you acquire new skills and insights. Building time into your day to learn more about yourself or your industry can give you the tools to solve today’s problems while also helping you figure out how to achieve your long-term goals. Through school, through work, or through interactions with friends and colleagues learning happens all the time. An extended coffee break with a friend may seem like slacking off, but some of the world’s best ideas have been born by taking time to bounce ideas around. Make the time and make things happen.
Most people practice through repetition of what they already know. Yet research shows that only by deliberate practice — that is, focusing specific and sustained efforts on something your can’t yet do well — can you become an expert. Engaging in deliberate practice is key to high-impact learning. By strategically practicing new skills you can improve far more quickly. Likewise, finding practical application for your learning will help you retain more of what you have learned.
One of the most important and most-overlooked parts of the learning process is reflection. Not only does synthesizing and articulating the learning experience solidify the new knowledge, research shows that reflection builds one’s confidence in the ability to achieve a goal, which in turn translates into higher rates of learning. Ruminating can help us gain perspective on lessons learned and fully assimilate new ideas.