If you’ve been putting off your personal or professional development because you don’t have the time, I have bad news for you. Continuous learning doesn’t have to involve enrolling in an MBA program. Ongoing learning and development can fit into your daily life. Below are 8 ways to feed your brain right now without adding significant time commitments.
I challenge you to try one of these 8 in the coming week. You may be surprised at how it impacts your ability to solve problems, innovate, and communicate with your team.
FEED YOUR BRAIN: AUDIO PROGRAMS AND PODCASTS
There is an ever growing repository of information available in audio lessons and podcasts. You can even find recorded university lectures available on iTunes U. Many of these podcasts can be found on iTunes,Stitcher, SoundCloud, Patreon, Spotify (the list goes on and on) – all for free! Of course you can also find great learning opportunities through audiobooks.
1. Listen while commuting. Select a podcast and listen while commuting to/from work, a client meeting or even the grocery store. There are podcasts lasting 5 minutes to several hours. Choose one that meets your commute time and interest. Try something new!
Note: Just because something is short doesn’t mean it has less value. Often times a 5 minute challenge can have more impact than an 8 hour course. Stay open to the possibilities.
2. Listen while walking. Do you walk your dog daily? Or go for a run? There’s something amazing about listening to new information while your heart is pumping and you are breathing deeply.
Tip: Make sure to keep a note taking resource handy. Whether it’s paper and pen or an app on your smartphone, you’ll need to capture ideas as they burst from this potent combination of exercise and learning.
3. Turn chores into new ideas. If you dread doing chores, why not feed your brain and make chore time something to look forward to? Plug in a podcast while cleaning the house, cutting the grass, or any other physical work that doesn’t require deep focus.
Caution: Don’t get distracted from what you’re doing – safety first! Keep an eye on sharp blades and keep your podcast device away from heat and liquids.
FEED YOUR BRAIN: LUNCH AND LEARNS
Too many professionals work through lunch. Your brain will serve you better if you a.) have a nutritious meal and b.) step away from work.
Stepping away from a problem can often give your subconscious time to come up with possible solutions. Use lunchtime to completely switch gears and learn about something unrelated to the task at hand. It may even inspire an innovative solution.
4. Visit a Museum. If you’re spending most of your day on left brain analysis, you may need to give your right brain a little love. Visit your local museum to take in and learn about the arts to help you with your science. Look for lunchtime guided tours to benefit from the knowledge of the museum staff.
5. Learn from others. Many organizations provide lunch and learn opportunities to introduce you to topics, ideas, or larger programs.These events are great opportunites to learn not only from the presenter, but other participants and their perspectives of the topic.
6. Conduct a lunch and learn. Offer a lunch and learn in your office or local library to help you learn a topic. There is no better way to learn than to have to teach something to others.
MAKE ROOM – FOR QUALITY
I’ll bet you could find at least 30 minutes every day of wasted time. Think of it as your brain on junk food. This recommendation is a difficult challenge as I’m asking you replace your brain-junk food with quality nourishment – books!
A deep, broad reading habit is an under appreciated professional development strategy. Reading both fiction and non-fiction books is one of the quickest ways to acquire and assimilate new information, improve intelligence and emotional intelligence, and lead to innovation and insight.
7. Social media switch. Each time you pick up your device to check your twitter feed, Facebook, Instagram, or any other social media stream – STOP. Open a book instead. Read one page of that book.
Chances are you’ll end up reading more than one page. Good for you! And just think about how much better that book is for your brain than the stream of cat videos, half eaten food photos, selfies, or trolling rants going on in your social media stream.
8. Breaking News. Unless your job relates to reporting the news, you only need one dose per day. Do you watch the morning news programs? Then at night watch the local news, then the national news, and then the late night news? How much has the news really changed in those 8-10 hours?
Stop. Reduce your consumption by half. Replace the stress inducing news program with the quality of a good book.
Your brain – and it’s ability to continue to grow and learn – is your most valuable asset. Why not invest in it daily? And as my dad likes to say: use it or lose it!