It’s that time of year for kids to head back to school. And with that, it’s also a great time of year for entrepreneurs to re-engage their own learning. How do you find time to learn even when you know how important it is to success?
It’s often hard to routinely engage in the learning process. On the one hand, we know how important it is to practice continuous learning, and many of us love learning a new skill. On the other, we feel so overwhelmed by our work that we often feel we can’t justify setting aside time to learn something new.
This back-to-school season, let’s all make a commitment to mastering a new skill that will further our entrepreneurial ventures. We can read new books to broaden our horizons or take a course we wish we could have in college.
To help you get started, here’s a list of resources to help you find time to learn and feel like you too are heading back to school.
Find Time to Learn with Podcasts
Podcasts are a fantastic free resource for you to keep up to date with the news, changes in your industry, and for collecting knowledge in general. Best of all, they fit into multipurposing your time. Listen to podcasts while driving, working out or even cleaning the house.
Many large news publications like the New York Times and NPR also publish podcasts daily, and in some cases, hourly. Take 20 minutes each day while you’re having your breakfast or taking a break from work to listen to the news to stay informed about what’s going on.
There are hundreds of podcasts out there to satisfy every need and every time constraint. For example, NPR tends to have 15-minute flash briefings (perfect time for a break) while Stuff You Should Know tends to have hour-long episodes.
Stop Wasting Time Reading Blogs…
Are you currently going to each website whose blog you follow to check for new content every day? Think about all the time you are wasting doing that.
You can find time to learn from blogs by using a blog aggregator. These programs pull all new content from the blogs and news sites you follow into one news stream.
Feedly is a favorite among many working professionals because it’s easy to set up, categorize, and edit. Their reader is free although you can pay $5/month for their premium features like Evernote clipping and integration with WP and IFTTT.
Panda is a dynamic RSS reader which allows for high levels of layout customization. You’re able to read multiple websites at once, take notes, and add items to a to-do list. You can use Panda on the web or on iOS.
Feed Wrangler is a premium ($19/yr), no-frills RSS reader which allows you to categorize your blogs and websites into streams. Their focus is to provide a distraction-free setting to help you get through the news faster, which is why they don’t have social media integration.
Maximize Your Efforts
On-demand learning has taken off in recent years. Platforms like Coursera and Lynda offer university-level courses to help you learn new skills or bolster old ones. They bring the online classroom experience to the masses without needing to go through a college admissions office. The benefit is that you can learn based on your own schedule. No need to attend at specific times that don’t work for you.
Lynda.com offers courses mostly focused on hard skills like web design, coding, and business. They have the option for a free trial to see if the courses are worth your while. After the free trial, you can choose from their basic ($20/mo) or premium ($30/mo) plans, which give you unlimited access to courses and learning on any device.
Coursera will take you back to your college years where you had a professor lecturing you on a topic and you completing the course work for the next class. Coursera compiles online courses from top universities like Stanford, Duke, UC San Diego, and the University of Michigan. They offer courses in technical skills like web development but also provide courses in social sciences and languages. Courses range from free to $60 and many offer the choice to receive a certification for completing the course.
Always Be a Student
Adopting the mindset of learning all year round is what will help you continue to develop as a person a professional. Making time for learning each day will help you feel more accomplished at the end of the day and can help you work towards goals in your personal and professional life.