I’m a firm believer in the massive benefits of ongoing self-teaching in contributing to not only increased knowledge as we progress through life, but in self confidence, creativity, improved imagination, memory and, ultimately happiness (or at least a glimpse of it!).
Some of the greatest rewards in my life have sprung out of the investments I have made into learning for myself. I’m not talking about school in this sense, though that still had some value, but in actually putting in my own time to absorb new information about things I am interested in.
The process of self-teaching and learning is entirely different to what we experience when we are taught by others because in the latter we are not responsible except to do the work and hand in assignments on time.
When we take charge on things that truly interest us, there is a force at play that I think is even more stimulating and powerful than could ever be emulated in the classroom.
“There is a force at play more powerful than could ever be emulated in the classroom.”
Those who have demonstrated tremendous success in various fields, whether sportsmen, artists, scientists and mountaineers, have been shown to have dedicated significant resources to self learning and building up knowledge and skills throughout life.
As a sidenote, self-teaching shouldn’t be thought of as selfish, because in building up our own abilities in this passionate way, we are becoming more valuable people to society as a whole.
As we get ‘busier’ and time becomes seemingly more scarce, what are some good ways to fit in some time for knowledge absorption in your day to day?
I give you eleven!
1. Read in bed before you fall asleep instead of watching films or tv.
2. Wake up a little earlier each day and put in some extra learning time.
3. Play audio-books and other audio material in the car or in your headphones when commuting to work.
4. Put up a message board where you will see it and constantly add new points to learn.
5. Play audio material when doing other things like cooking, taking a bath and running.
6. Make a deliberate decision to cut down on certain activities each week, especially procrastinating, and focusing a few hours on self teaching.
7. Dedicate your lunch break or other eating break to a time for eating and learning. If you can stomach it – at the same time!
8. Checking email is almost impossible to avoid these days (though reducing time spent reading them will help you make more time for learning), but you might consider building learning into your email-checking ritual.
Send yourself an article or something interesting to watch or read every evening (ideally focusing on things that you are working on as part of your self-teaching), to be read at some point the next day.
9. Replace TV with learning. Yes, that means turning off the tv and reading instead.
10. Use a Kindle or other handheld book storage device, or bring a book around, and read whenever you have an appropriate spare moment.
11. Teach others, perhaps even teach as a full-time career. This will make self-teaching part of what you do for a large chunk of the time.
As a closing note, you will find it easier to self-teach when you are actually passionate about what it is you are learning, and you get into the habit of learning in a certain way, each day.
And a final thought, make sure you allow yourself additional breathing space in the day, to relax or simply do nothing too. A packed day is overwhelming, so no need to over-do it, just take advantage of moments that would otherwise not be used effectively.