A few days ago I put up a post about the success secrets of top performers. One of the things leaders and top performers do, almost without exception, is to continue learning and reading. While I don’t know everything, there are ways I learn without sacrificing family time.

Note: I wasn’t sure I was even going to write this post but I changed my mind after talking with a woman at church about reading and learning. Our conversation offered her some valuable tips so I thought maybe you’d be interested too.

Stick around to the end because I also have some suggestions of things you can do this week to take the first step. If you’re not sure how to take the next step, send me a note.

how i learn

How I learn without sacrificing family time

Always be learning. Never stop. Ever.
Bryan Entzminger

There are a few things I do to learn as much as I can as quickly as I am able. Some people might disagree with my approach. Some people have different learning styles. This is just what works for me. If it doesn’t work for you, keep trying until you get it right. Learning is important.

Take advantage of dead time

One of the best ‘dead time’ tools is…a phone with reading materials available….

Let’s face it, we have a lot going on and are usually juggling priorities and managing expectations. I don’t want to sacrifice family time to read. But at the same time, there are almost always spaces of uncommitted time in our calendars. I’d suggest you do two things: set aside specific time for learning (yes, plan to learn) and also take advantage of those little spaces by always having something available to read.

I make time for learning by getting up early in the morning (usually 5AM) and go through a morning routine that allows me to clear my mind, get set for the day, and spend some time praying and journaling.

I also take advantage of small blocks of time. For example, I find that some of my best time to read paper books are while my wife is getting ready for bed. But where this “dead time” really takes off is on my commute.

Your rolling university

I have a 30 minute commute each way every day and I take advantage of that “dead time.” If you have a commute I’d suggest that you turn off the sports talk and listen to something that will feed your intellectual growth.

When I’m on my way to work I listen to two things: audio books and podcasts. But that’s not all of it – I have a secret sauce. I know that we think faster than we speak (think about it, when was the last time your mind wandered while listening to somebody talk) so I kick it up a notch.

I listen to audio books on my iPad at double speed and I listen to podcasts at triple speed using an app called Downcast (a very good investment at $1.99). In both cases I find that speakers are generally understandable and neither app makes them sound like chipmunks.

Read the short version

Sometimes I don’t have the time to read an entire book. And, frankly, many books on business and personal development could be summarized in 3-5 pages without losing anything but the stories.

Because of that I’m a huge fan of summaries like the ones provided by GetAbstract and Actionable Books. While these don’t give the full depth of a book, they offer highlights and insights very quickly. I find them invaluable when I’m trying to gain a high level understanding of a new concept.

Now, about you

I’ve shared three things I do to learn quickly and continuously. Do you have any tips or tricks to share with the rest of us?

Take the next step

Which one of the following will you do in the next week?

Let us all know what you’ll be doing by leaving a comment. And check back to let us know how it’s going.

And, if you’ve found this post valuable, I’d really appreciate a tweet or share.

Photo credit: aheram

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