The Habit of Learning
In listening to and reading hundreds of interviews with insanely successful entrepreneurs there seems to be one common denominator: an insatiable thirst for knowledge.
Naturally curious myself, I realized in my entrepreneurial journey that simply wanting to learn wasn’t enough. I needed a system.
I approach learning with the way I do exercise — as a consistent, daily habit.
When I leave learning to chance, it’s easy to delay and postpone. Therefore, I’ve spent the past two years developing the habits below — they’ve allowed me to rapidly master new topics on a regular basis, increase my earning potential, improve my health, and allow me to pass on the information to my clients and students.
“The Habits of Learning”
Schedule Time Each Week
The first habit I developed was scheduling time(s) each week, much like I do my workouts. Every Sunday when I sit down and plan my upcoming week, I map out several time blocks where I’ll be studying. Three years ago when I was trying to learn WordPress development, I would schedule a block of time every day and specify what I’d be studying that day. For example, Monday from 11am-1230pm, I’d be committed to reading Chapters 1 + 2 of Intro to WordPress Development and working through the exercises. Being very specific about both the time and what I’d be studying was critical — both were non-negotiable. Again, I think back to the exercise analogy — the adherence rate is much higher for trainees who plan out their workouts in advance. While the topics and my time commitment have changed in the time since, I still follow the same practice today. This week I have two time blocks on my calendar to work through Ramit Sethi’s Zero to Launch worksheets.
I’ve always been an avid reader, but I’ve reinforced it as a consistent daily habit. Every night before bed I’m reading for 45 minutes while enjoying the effects of the Bulletproof Sleep Induction Mat. I’ve also changed the way I read after reading “How to Read a Book” and Tim Ferriss’ article on Speed Reading — instead of reading cover to cover, I flip through books and highlight specific sections to refer back to, taking notes along the way. Doing so allows me to plow through 2–3 books per week, on average. I also spend two nights per week using my Kindle Fire to flip through blogs I subscribe to on Feedly.
Listen to Podcasts
I stopped listening to music except when working out. Previously when driving or out walking I would listen to the same Spotify playlist every day. I replaced the Spotify playtlist with podcasts like Smart Passive Income, The School of Greatness, I Love Marketing, and Bright Ideas. Every Sunday when mapping out my week, I sift through the latest episodes and create my podcast playlist. By doing so, I was able to replace 30–45 minutes every day of empty listening with inspiring interviews with entrepreneurs.
Work with Mentors & Mastermind Groups
Having a network of mentors has been invaluable as well. Before I dive into any topic, I ask the masters. With so much information available online, finding relevant information can be like searching for a needle in a haystack. Depending on the topic, I have a network of mentors to guide me to the best resources. For example, when I wanted to learn about Facebook advertising, I first asked several mentors who ran online marketing agencies. The response was the same from everyone: “JonLoomer.com”. That answer saved me potentially dozens of hours of sifting through other resources, trying to determine what was most credible. For some mentors, I insist that I pay for their time. A 1 hour conversation with someone on top of their game is well worth the $200+ hourly rate, especially when I can fill in all the gaps in knowledge and get immediate answers.
I also participate in 2 mastermind groups — one for building a blog audience and another for web design agency owners. We meet on a weekly basis and set goals for one another, share resources, and help each other work through any challenges we’re facing. Having a system of accountability is huge, especially since we have a shared spreadsheet outlining the goals we’ve committed each week.
Buy & Take Courses
Another habit I got into was actually buying courses. In several of my mastermind groups we exchange logins and passwords for online courses, but unless my skin is in the game and I’ve made the investment, I don’t feel the same sense of urgency to learn and apply the material. Once I’ve bought a course, I work it into my weekly planning and actually do it.
Write & Reflect
By writing consistently, I’m forced to learn more. I have two habits that have helped me produce more content and learn more regularly:
- Write 1000 words per day, first thing in the morning — After reading Authority by Nathan Barry, I made the commitment to write 1000 words per day, every day. I don’t move on to anything else before this task is finished…it’s like my brain workout first thing in the morning.
- Reflect at the end of every day “What did I learn today?” — When journaling at night, if I don’t have a good answer to this question, one of my commitments the next day is a deliberate block of time dedicated to learning.
Unless I’m applying material, it’s quickly forgotten. Therefore, I try to only study topics that I can use immediately. A few recent examples:
- I bought and read Tony Robbins’ new book Money Master the Game, then worked through the exercises to automate my finances and re-allocated my investments based on Ray Dalio’s All Weather Fund.
- I read “Less Doing, More Living”, then re-hired a virtual assistant and began to automate my daily tasks.
- I bought Ryan Lee’s “Everything” course to learn about creating a podcast while recording my first few episodes.
- I bought Derek Halpern’s Blog That Converts course while learning how to build my blog traffic and audience.
- I plunked down $2,200 for Jordan Belfort Straight Line Persuasion System sales course to build the techniques into my agency sales process.
I think what most excites me is that we live during a time where the culmination of all knowledge in human history is at our fingertips, a click away. Never before has there been such an amazing opportunity to learn and master any topic. Ultimately, the best investment you can make is in yourself. We have direct control over how valuable we are based on how much we know.
Originally published at clintwarren.com on December 2, 2014.