I love to read about how high achievers organise their lives. It makes me feel like if I could only do that one thing, I’d be halfway there. Although I have rarely copied them, I love to find out that the super successful, for example, do a HIIT workout at 5.30am, or add coconut oil to their coffee, or organise their meetings in 10-minute slots. Most of them seem get up at 4am and do a full day’s work before I’ve even rolled over in bed.
But, finally, there’s one success strategy I think I can get on board with, mainly because it actually sounds interesting (unlike coconut oil in coffee. Ugh). And that thing is to consciously learn something every day.
This insight came from a survey done by Fab Giovanetti, founder of the Health Bloggers Community, for her new book Make An Impact: The Six Habits of Highly Influential People. She surveyed 500 successful people – defined as running a business or project (often more than one), having written a book or two and/or having a substantial social audience. The survey compared their habits with 1,000 people who, comparatively, hadn’t made it so big.
One of the standout differences between the two groups was that the successful were much more likely to agree with the statement: “I’m sort of obsessed with a specific topic right now, and that obsession helps me succeed.” This passion for learning everything about a particular topic makes sense, when you think about what it requires to stand out. Also, 90% of the highly influential agreed with: “I invest money and time learning from people I admire,” versus only half of those who were less successful. “One of the things I found,” says Giovanetti, “was that the smaller influencers tended to struggle with being regimented in the way they structured their learning.” But if you can make learning into a habit, you’ll find the benefits build and build. Here are some ways to make sure you keep on learning:
Even if it’s nothing to do with how you make money, working on any new skill helps you become a better learner
1 Make time every single day
People who want to learn put it in their diary. “Have a clear plan and goal for your week, including learning as a key thing,” says Giovanetti. And, if you are struggling for time, fit learning into what you already do. A podcast while you drive, exercise or commute? Walking and running while listening is effective – moving during or after learning helps you retain information. Or can you replace another activity you don’t need (scrolling through your phone, for example). And, if you’re really short of time, Giovanetti recommends Blinkist, an app that condenses books into 10- or 15-minute summaries.
2 Experiment with ways of learning
“This is something that came up again and again. If you want to make a practice of doing something that takes time, like learning, you need to find the best way to do it for you,” says Giovanetti. This is how to make the knowledge stick. Experiment with your learning style – try audiobooks, podcasts, YouTube tutorials, decide whether you take notes or not, or whether you can repeat it back to someone else. One of most effective ways of all to learn is to ask questions when you attend a lecture or a talk, and this is also true of listening to other people’s questions, too.
3 Find your prime time
Work out your most effective time of day to learn, and you’ll save time and effort. To do this, think about when you’re usually more productive and the time of day you work best without distraction. “This can often be the time of day you find it easy to do the things you love for hours, but it can also be the time of day you’re best at doing the things you don’t want to do,” says Giovanetti. “It may be first thing in the morning for you, or it could be listening to something before you fall asleep.”
4 Learn for the sake of learning
Even if it’s nothing to do with how you make money, working on any new skill helps you become a better learner. The survey found that the successful often spend weekends doing what they’re excited about – a new hobby, rather than Netflix. “This fires up your brain. It’s all about being able to pick things up quickly,” says Giovanetti. “If you don't keep doing it, you will lose this ability – you need to practice it in order to keep learning effectively and quickly.”
Make An Impact: The 6 Habits of Highly Influential People by Fab Giovanetti is published 10 December