If you had a spare hour in your day, how would you spend it? Playing video games? Watching your favourite series on Netflix?
What about learning something new?
I read a very interesting article on inc.com by Michael Simmons recently, which explained that the smartest and most successful people were deliberate learners.
The article centred on Benjamin Franklin who would take one hour of his day to further his own learning. Whether it was through self reflection, reading and writing or trying out experiments, his efforts led him to become one of America's greatest statesmen and entrepreneurs.
This approach really captured our attention at Hotcourses and made us think about what could really be achieved if we dedicated one hour every day to learning something new.
We're not just talking about how to change the ink in your printer at work. We're talking about learning things that really matter to you and challenges your depth of understanding.
What's your passion?
Every single person in this world is more than just their day job - just look at our team! Ereen, our digital marketing executive has competed professionally in Muay Thai boxing, whilst Kieran, our Search Engine Marketing Manager, exerts his creative side through his photography. Both are prime examples of people who continue to further their learning by taking risks and experimenting - two things Franklin excelled at.
According to inc.com, setting an hour aside everyday doesn't mean you'll be whizzing through your to do list. In fact you may find that you achieve less in a day but learning something new and expanding your knowledge rewards you over time. We're so conditioned to focus on productivity and using time efficiently that sometimes we sacrifice the quality of the work we do for quantitative achievements.
The one hour a day challenge flips this mindset on its head and encourages you to take that one hour and really connect with what you are learning.
One common excuse people make is not knowing what they want to expand their learning on and not knowing what their underlying passions are. Do you love music and wished you could play the piano? Or perhaps the latest changes to our government have triggered an unexpected interest in politics. Whatever gets your mind buzzing is definitely worth exploring in more depth.
So, how do you do this when you already have a packed day?
You create what is described as ‘empty space’ by grandmaster in Chess, Josh Waitzkin.
He says: 'I have built a life around having empty space for the development of my ideas for the creative process. And for the cultivation of a physiological state which is receptive enough to tune in very, very deeply to people I work with.'
Rather than finding an hour within a packed day of tasks and meetings, Waitzkin purposely centres his day around his time for learning, making this a priority.
Don’t get stagnant
Once you’ve grown into the routine of making that time to learn, it is important that this doesn’t merely turn into a habit.
We may think that developing habits is a good thing given the amount of articles on the internet about how successful people spend their mornings, evenings and weekends – but the reality is that once you get accustomed to repeating an action over and over again, you fall into a state of autonomy.
Michael Simmons, co-founder of Empact, which specialises in entrepreneurship and leadership events, spoke about this further saying, ‘here’s the crux of the issue: habits are about becoming more efficient at doing the same thing over and over. Learning is about growing by doing things we've never done before and challenging ourselves.’
That’s not to say automaticity is a bad thing. By over-learning a particular skill, you come to a point where that skill is so fluid that it becomes ‘a part of who you are, not just a thing you can do.’
This doesn’t challenge us. Learning should be about engaging our senses, stimulating our minds and aiding our personal growth. So in addition to making a commitment to learning new things, we should also be tracking our progress and asking ourselves reflective questions.
When combined, all of these elements work together in helping us remain curious, passionate and eager to continue our learning journey. All the big players in the world continuously learn including Warren Buffet who rightly said, ‘Generally speaking, investing in yourself is the best thing you can do. Anything that improves your own talents; nobody can tax it or take it away from you.’
Feeling inspired and ready to broaden your learning? Start your search on Hotcourses and explore your potential.
Safeera is Editor of Hotcourses and a journalist from Kingston University. Always the inquisitive, her writing spans across a number of areas such as sustainability, fashion, lifestyle and now education. Her belief that you never stop learning and passionate nature has taken her to New York City as part of her degree and across the airwaves on national radio talking about the issues that matter to her.