Make Time for Online Learning

I recently read an article about how your brain is a muscle.

(I can’t remember where I read it and didn’t bookmark it so you’ll just have to trust me because I can’t link to it.)

But the point is that, just like the other muscles in your body, your brain has to be exercised so it doesn’t go stagnant.

Makes sense, right?

Yet the majority of humans reach a certain age and stop learning.

Call it adulting or other priorities or what have you, but we let our brains go.

And that’s not good.

Online Learning and Your Gym Membership

So today we are going to focus on online learning—and how to fit it into your day.

By the end, you will be super pumped to exercise your brain!

With so much online learning out there, it’s hard to narrow it down, choose one or two things to focus on, and get to work.

I totally get you.

Every week I get the email from Coursera with the online courses they think I’ll enjoy.

And I feel guilty deleting it.

Big data, deep learning, mental tools, neuropsychology, mindshift, game theory…oh, my!

Online learning is kind of like going to the gym.

It’s an investment.

Both promise to make you better, healthier, and smarter.

Online learning even promises to make you happier, richer, and more popular on top of that.

But, just like the gym membership that goes by the wayside by the middle of February, online learning can easily drop to the bottom of the priority list.

When it comes to the gym, you don’t think:

Do I have time to go to the gym?

Rather, you think:

I have to make time to go to the gym.

We’re already conditioned to know we have to make time to go to the gym.

You have to do the same with online learning.

If you don’t, your brain may atrophy and die.

Don’t let your brain die.

Make a Commitment to Online Learning

The first, and most important step, is to make a commitment to online learning.

I just read The Conversion Code for the second time.

I’m not great at reading business books.

By the time I shut my computer down at night, my brain wants nothing more to do with business.

(That and I much prefer fiction.)

So I carve time out during the day to read.

It takes a little longer to get through books this way, but it works.

It goes on my task list: read The Conversion Code.

And then, every day, I read a chapter.

Or half a chapter.

Or three pages.

Whatever I have time to do that day.

Because I treat it like a task during my work day, I do work alongside it.

I have three pages of notes in my notebook from reading that book.

And, after having read it (twice because I didn’t want to miss anything), I have more ideas for better conversions.

Heck if Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and Jeff Bezos can make time for online learning, so can you.

Slip Online Learning into Your Day

To make time for online learning that lasts more than a month, there are a few things you can try.

You certainly can create an item on your task list, like I do.

Or, you can:

  • Learn strategically. Figure out what you’d like to learn in the next 12 months and create a list. Maybe it’s how to measure your work or to join a group that will push you and hold you accountable. Or you want to be a better speaker or learn about blockchain. Whatever it is, create your list and then find online learning that will help you. Mike Connell did a great round-up last year of the best online courses.
  • Retain more of what you learn. Not only is it important to choose your online learning wisely, it’s also important to retain as much useful insight. Use the three principles of impression (pause to really visualize or understand what you read), association (connect new content with what you already know), and repetition (reread or take notes) to accomplish that.
  • Switch up your routine. The right routine can eliminate a lot of stress from your days, but sometimes what you gain in productivity and comfort you lose in creativity and learning. For that reason, if you want to be a constant learner, consciously force yourself to shake up your routine every once in awhile.

Free Resources for Online Learning

A couple of years ago, Maqtoob founder, Kristyna Zapletal, wrote the 37 best websites for online learning.

The list is still applicable today.

It includes the usual suspects, including Lynda, Coursera, and Udemy.

And it includes courses where you can learn:

  • How to code
  • How to work with data
  • A new language
  • How to expand your knowledge
  • New skills (such as playing the piano or guitar)
  • More about business

Free Up Hours Every Week for Online Learning

Enter some math.

I know, I know.

You went into communications because you hate math.

But bear with me for a second.

Let’s look at some statistics:

  • The average online learning video is five minutes.
  • Americans spend 608 hours on social media.
  • And we spend 1,642 hours on TV.

Between social media and TV (Netflix binge, anyone?), we have 2,250 hours every year that could be spent on online learning.

Let’s say, for argument’s sake, you only want to devote half of those hours to exercising your brain.

Now you have 1,125 hours to spend on online learning.

If the average video is five minutes, you have time for 225 videos this year.

That’s four videos every week—or 20 minutes.

That’s less time than you have to spend in the gym.

With a commitment to spend 20 minutes every week, you’ll be smarter, richer, happier, and more popular.

Do You Want the Status Quo?

The alternative is, of course, the status quo.

Not learning how to do something faster, better, easier…staying the same.

Which is OK if you’re fine with where you are right now.

But what about five years from now?

Ten years?

What about the other people in your field who invest time in online learning?

How do you keep up?

As you begin to work on your 2019 plan, include online learning in it for yourself.

Twenty minutes every week.

Four videos.

You can do that.

image credit: Pixabay 

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

View all posts by Gini Dietrich