Just as accumulated drops of water can eventually make an ocean, the compound effect of daily learning can create an unimaginable and immeasurable impact in our lives. Daily learning impacts every sphere and dimension of life, from decision-making to problem-solving. If you improve by a mere 1% every day, you’ll be 37 times more skilled or knowledgeable in a year (1^365 = 1, but 1.01^365 = 37.7!). Daily learning sows the seeds of knowledge, which eventually grow into beautiful and different traits, qualities, abilities and skills that make our life happy and colourful.
How can you make daily learning a habit, especially with your hectic schedule? Here are four steps that may help.
Step 1: Spend less time on social media
Indians spend around 2.4 hours every day on social media, according to Global Web Index’s Social Media Trends 2019 report. A lot of this time is wasted on posting videos, photos and statuses to seek external validation that boosts our fragile egos, temporarily fills the bottomless pit of our insecurity and assuages our fear of oblivion.
Social media apps are designed to lure us and keep us hooked with a daily stream of notifications distracting us and asking for our attention. According to Harvard University researcher Trevor Haynes, whenever you hear the ‘ping’ notification sound, your brain releases dopamine, which makes you feel good. Likes, reactions and comments give us a false sense of accomplishment, thereby making us dependant on social media. The dopamine rush, instant gratification, and sense of accomplishment keep us addicted and hooked to social media apps, while providing a distorted view of the world and the self.
By monitoring our use of social media and applying restraints and curbs to ensure that social media doesn’t nibble away at our precious time like a parasite, we can carve out an hour daily for deliberate and constructive learning. It also helps us to define our own version of success rather than being dependent on others for affirmation and validation. Spending time away from social media helps us understand ourselves instead of being reliant on social media for a misplaced sense of identity.
Phones today have inbuilt features or apps to monitor screen time, which provides a detailed and extensive analysis of time spent on social media apps. These can help you take measures to curb frivolous use. So instead of boasting naively about redundant knowledge, let us carve out time to gain more knowledge.
Step 2: Remember the 80/20 rule
Also known as the Pareto law, this statistical principle states that 80% of the results can be attributed to 20% of the causes. The Pareto law finds resonance in almost every human endeavour, from management to investing. For example, 90% of Warren Buffet’s wealth comes from merely ten percent of his investments; in many organisations, 80% of revenue comes from 20% of the sales team. Similarly, 80% of the results we seek comes from 20% of the tasks.
By distinguishing the “vital few” from the trivial many, we can cut 80% of functions that don’t contribute to the final results and end goals. We can also automate the recurring, standardised tasks that require very little or no human discretion. Other tasks that occupy a lot of our time can be delegated. This will leave you an enormous amount of time for daily learning.
Step 3: Learn smartly
Imagine going to a mall and visiting every store and trying every dress. Or trying out every mobile phone in the world before finalising the one you want. Sounds ridiculous, right? But this is what we do when we try to learn a new subject. When you pick up a book about something, but ignore the index and read it cover to cover, including the bits that are irrelevant or that you already know, you’re losing valuable opportunities to learn.
- Be driven by love, not obligation: Dragging yourself laboriously through a book with the intention of finishing it pushes the goal of learning to the periphery. Instead of exercising your willpower to crawl through the book, use your love for reading, curiosity and appetite for learning. Let us derive mental satisfaction not from the completion of the book but the impact of the book. After going through the crucial parts of the book, you may also choose to read the whole book. But what matters that reading the entire book should be a choice, should be fun and not a tiresome, punishing obligation.
- Don’t like books? Try other options. If reading books is not your thing, or if it seems too time-consuming, you can also opt for audiobooks, videos, podcasts or speeches on the same subject. It is likely the author may have delivered a talk that summarises the book in mere minutes, thus enabling you to save copious amounts of time. And if your initial research further fuels your curiosity, you might want to invest in the book, or alternatively, move on to the next thing you want to learn.
Step 4: Learn while you travel
Indians spent 7% of their day commuting daily to their office. Why not turn this into a great opportunity? If you’re not driving and take public transport, you can open a book and start reading. In case you’re not able to read due to distraction or noise, you can watch YouTube videos, listen to audio books or podcasts. In case you still want to use your car, you can hire a driver—the benefits of learning will more than justify the cost. Alternatively, connect your phone via Bluetooth or USB to the music system of your car and listen to an audio-book or podcast while you wade through chaotic traffic.
Daily learning is a sure-fire, fool-proof way to grow, develop and learn more about yourself. You may come across a quote, anecdote or lesson that may provide an answer to a pressing question in your life. You may have a ‘Eureka!’ moment; an idea that completely alters your life. Daily learning helps you be a better version of yourself every day. You grow incrementally every day as growth never stops, and perfection becomes more of a journey and less of a destination, as there is always something to work upon or become better at. Just like your gadgets, your brain needs to be charged daily. Daily learning helps you to go beyond your preconceived limitations and reach new pinnacles of success.