Are you constantly learning by reading books, listening to blogs and watching videos?

I was until I realised that I was not applying 90% of what I learnt.

Filling my brain with information that I was not using or retaining, wasted precious time that I could never get back.

[pullquote align=”normal” cite=”Benjamin Franklin”]Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.[/pullquote]

This post will show some of the techniques I use to get started, learn, apply and keep going.

Start well

Ask yourself the following two questions –

1. When can you start using what you learn?

I always try and apply any learning as soon as I have obtained it. If I read a chapter of a book, I try and apply 1 or 2 concepts that I have learnt the following week.

This enables me to retain the knowledge as well as see whether the concepts work within the context that I am applying them.

It also allows me to assess whether the author is talking out of their backside. If they are, I can stop wasting my time with their book.

Reflection on what works, what doesn’t, what you have learned and what else you need to develop is a great practice to get into.

2. What will be the outcome of you learning this?

  • Will it move you closer to your goal of becoming a web developer?
  • Will it improve your presentation skills at work to enable you to feel more confident?
  • Will it allow you to improve your productivity by 10%?

Use your learning to help you achieve your goals. You need direction for your learning.


Did you know that only 10% of people who buy a book get past the first chapter.

Are you one of these?

Do you not have enough time to learn?

If so, you could be procrastinating, let’s see.

Not interested

It is boring; it is not challenging; I do not want to do it.

Maybe you should choose something else to learn?

Fear of failure

What will give you the best chance of learning?

What is the worst that can happen?

Fear of success

What will success bring you?

What will it mean to do nothing? – Doing nothing is acceptable.

It is too difficult

Who can help you?

I am overwhelmed

What can you do to break you learning down into shorter chunks? Remember to always reward yourself at every stage.

Ok, we have reached the bottom of the list. Can you think of anymore?

If any of these apply to you, then you must work out how to move forward before you look at the time barrier.

No Nick, it is really time

You want to learn, you are not procrastinating, but cannot find the time?

Is this true?

I am sure we can find some together.

I want you over the next week to write down in a diary, spreadsheet or notepad what you do all day. Break it down into 30 minute chunks.

Right, when you have that, it is time to prioritise.

For each item in your time diary, assess if the time spent here is of higher priority than the outcome of your learning.

  • Is being active on twitter and Facebook for 30 minutes a day more important than getting that web developer job?
  • Is watching the television more important than the promotion to team leader?
  • Do you need to spend 2 hours a day in the gym?

Found any more time?

Bonus – Time saving tips

Drop pointless distractions

  • Surfing the internet.
  • Speaking to colleagues about non work activity.
  • Extended tea breaks.
  • I am sure you can think of more that take up your time.

Be brutal with meetings

Meetings can be a big drag on your time at work so you have to be brutal.

Block out your calendar so it looks as though you are busy.

When someone schedules a meeting, find out the agenda and decline it if you feel you are not needed.

If you need to attend, say you can only attend for the first 30 minutes. It is amazing how they can shuffle a meeting agenda if it is important that you are there.

If you are running the meeting, keep on agenda, cut off time wasters and move the meeting to the conclusion.

Making people stand up for the meeting also keeps everybody focussed.

Increase productivity

A great time management technique I use to focus me to get things done is the Pomodoro technique.

Utilise travel time

  • Do you fall asleep or play games on your journey to work? Can you spend this time learning instead so you can leave earlier?
  • Can you work from home on a couple of days and cut the travel time?
  • Can you use another form of transport i.e. do you drive and could get the train?


  • Can you outsource any work at home that will allow you to spend quality time learning?
  • Can you pay for someone to do the washing, the ironing, the cleaning or the gardening?

If so and you can afford it, do it now. It is amazing how many hours of quality time you can free up.


Getting past the inertia of learning as well as continuing your learning journey can be difficult if you are not motivated.

Check out my recent post of motivation as it is relevant here as well.

Wrap up

If you are here, then you are ready to start, you are not procrastinating, you have found some time and you motivated.

That is fantastic  🙂

But before you go, I want you to spend one minute in the comments section below answering the following questions –

  • What you are going to learn?
  • When you are going to finish it by?
  • When you are going to start applying it?

This will give you an even higher rate of success for 2 reasons

  • You have written it down.
  • You have told me and others you are going to do it. You are now accountable.


Categories: Productivity