So, I once had a friend who sent me an email with a long diatribe of his ‘business ideas’.
You know, ‘I have this idea, I have this business concept, blah, blah, blah…’.
I replied, ‘Well, why don’t you pick one of these ideas? Go ahead and pursue them. They all look pretty good on paper’.
His response was, ‘Well, I would, but I don’t know how.’
Now needless to say, but it’s a shame in the age of the internet if someone says that. Yet, when I look closely, he did have somewhat a point. Let me explain.
To understand ‘I don’t know how’, we need to consider its syrupy cousin ‘I don’t have time’. And all of a sudden, it begins to make sense. If people don’t have time, it doesn’t matter even if all the knowledge in the world is available for free.
The other day, I was reading The Millionaire Fastlane (a must read by the way) by an author named MJ DeMarco. Therein I found some solutions to this ‘I don’t have time’ epidemic.
But before we get to them, let us highlight a concept called the ‘5-hour rule’ that has become popular lately. And what it basically says is this.
You can radically improve your intelligence and thereby turn from an ordinary person to a successful one by devoting merely 5 hours a week to deliberate learning in an environment free from distractions.
Now as hackers or entrepreneurs and startup founders, we best know the value of constantly expanding our knowledge and skillsets. So, I combined the two knowledge and set out to achieve that goal by looking for unexpected places to consume knowledge.
And so below I present my top 3 secrets to hack learning, or what the author MJ calls ‘learning universities’.
1. Toilet university
I had to use that word for lack of a better term. So, what I basically did is I decided to pick up a book each morning. And I would extend the ‘sit time’ by a few minutes each day to finish my reading goal for that day. And you know what happened, it all started to add up.
At the rate of 15 minutes a day, it became ridiculously easy to finish one or two books every month. And I continued doing this over the next few months. And fast forward to today, I’ve finished nearly a dozen books, and I don’t seem like stopping anytime soon.
Imagine what one could accomplish from such a simple habit created out of thin air. If you’re in college, you’d easily cover 60+ books over the four years. And I bet you’ll agree if I say you’d be light years ahead of your peers on the way to success and happiness.
So, how does this help with the 5-hour rule? Well, since it’s the first thing you do in the morning, and obviously, in a distraction-free environment, I cannot think of a better way of going about this. Per week, you’ll consume 100 minutes worth of content, and that’s already a third of what we need here according to the five-hour rule.
2. Exercise university
Now, I must admit that I’m not a gym rat myself. But from what I’ve seen, people often plug in the headphones and spend a good deal of time on the treadmill. So, here’s what I offer you to do. Instead of music, tune in to an audiobook or a podcast that educates you, or perhaps the news on the radio.
Assuming you do this for at least 20 minutes, this is another 140 points added to our score. (Theoretically, you could do more, but since your focus is diverted, I’d assume you’d be able to convert only a portion of the time.) Now we only need another hour’s worth of reading time to hit our weekly goal.
3. Waiting university
Now I’m sure you’ve experienced this before. You’re at the airport excited to sail for a fantastic vacation (please don’t curse me if that’s not the case 😉) when you suddenly come to know the flight is delayed by 45 minutes. Or perhaps, you visit the dentist, only to find a line waiting outside, making your tooth ache at least 3x worse.
While neither of these might sound like a distraction-free environment, this is precisely how I’ve managed to read multiple books over the last year.
And I’m sure everyone has to wait somewhere some of the time. And I’m also sure that for most people, the weekly average is easily an hour of time spent waiting.
So, to wrap this up, could you ever imagine the secret to success was to be found in the toilet? At the gym? At the airport? With the dentist?
Let me know your favorite ways to steal knowledge, and how well you’ve fared so far.