Self-development is the new black. Education has never been so accessible: online tutorials, learning apps, helpful newsletters, webinars, and workshops surround us on all sides. Why, then, after subscribing to a dozen courses, do we quickly drop out of training, even if we paid for it? The fact is that many of us do not know how to study on our own.
At Osmi Pro Online University, we help students achieve their learning goals. On HackerNoon I’ll tell you how to choose training and do it with benefit and pleasure.
The first question you should ask yourself when buying a course or signing up for a webinar is "Why do I need it?". A clear and specific goal is half the battle. You need to understand how you will use the new knowledge and why it will make your life better. "I want to learn English" is not much of a goal. But "I want to reach the Intermediate level by January, try to get a job at a big company, and earn twice as much" is another thing. Such a goal has a measurable result, a deadline, and a reason to practice regularly.
If you yourself don't know where you can use what you've learned, it's easy to lose motivation and give up learning. You're just wasting your time, energy, and money.
It is important that you associate the goal with something nice and joyful. "I have to learn English so I don't get fired," is not a good idea. It's better not to use such modal verbs like "must," "have to," and "need to”. Paint yourself a rosy picture of your life after school, not a gloomy dystopia of "What will happen if I do not buy this webinar".
Sometimes we study something for nothing, just for ourselves. But even that kind of learning can have a goal.
When they start studying, many people get euphoric about their own diligence and subscribe to ten courses and newsletters at once, and even order a whole treasure chest of books. No wonder, because if you study without a plan, it's easy to accumulate a lot of unnecessary things (and then even feel guilty that the courses are still not taken).
A personal development plan is a tool to help put your self-study in order. It is not just a list of literature and courses. The plan should definitely include the following items:
Goal. Fix it so you don't get distracted.
Skills to be improved. Here, write anything that will help you achieve what you want: planning your time, language skills, communication skills, etc. If your goal is related to work, look for dream jobs and see what skills and qualities employers expect from the applicant. There can be many skills, so prioritize: first, what you can't do without; second, what you are really interested in; and only then, everything else.
Specific skills. Imagine you're done learning; describe yourself, starting sentences with "I can," "I know," and "I know how to."
Resources. This is where you need to write down everything you're going to take, watch, and read: lessons, podcasts, workshops, articles, webinars, and books. You can cross out or check off what you've completed so you can feel the process in progress.
Practice. Theory is great, but we learn by doing things. Think about how you will use the knowledge in everyday life and work.
Timeline. To avoid turning into a perpetual student, set deadlines. But don't be hard on yourself. Changing deadlines is perfectly acceptable. It's important that the plan helps you, not serves as another source of stress.
Studying should fit seamlessly into our schedule, because if you have to sacrifice sleep, family, and friends for courses, you won't last long. How can you make time if you're already short on it?
Plan. First and most importantly, put studying into your schedule as if it were a regular work task. Don't rely on chance and don't assume that you'll study based on your moods. Instead, study should have strict timings. For example, "every Tuesday and Thursday from 1 to 2 p.m."
Study a little, but regularly. Study a little, but regularly. Studying six hours a day is difficult and inefficient, especially if you have enough to do elsewhere. Such a rhythm will quickly wear you out and you'll drop out just out of self-preservation instinct. Intense classes once a week also will not do any good: during the lesson break, you will simply forget everything and you will have to spend time repeating. An hour a day on weekdays is a more realistic schedule. So you will spend 5 hours a week for additional training and self-development, and that's quite a lot. By the way, this is how Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey learn.
Find an "anchor" for the new habit. Use an established habit to form a new one. For example, if you are already used to going to the gym three times a week, listen to educational podcasts on the treadmill.
There is no one right way to learn. Listen to yourself, think about what you like, and build learning around your preferences. To decide how to study, answer two questions:
What are you more interested in, theory or practice?
If you're a thinker, your path is pre-recorded courses, podcasts, and books. If you're a doer and inclined to practice, look for training that includes workshops and project work. You can also take on new tasks at work.
Do you like to study alone or in a group?
Self-study fans, as a rule, know how to manage their time. The same formats are suitable for them as for thinkers. For better results, you can study with a personal teacher.
Those who do better as a group can try clubs, group classes, marathons where you have to compete with others, and courses that have a developed community of students.
Visual, kinesthetic, and auditory learners remember information differently. How do you know which group you belong to? Try to remember your card's PIN number.
Did you picture those numbers written on paper? You are a visual learner.
Did you say them to yourself? Definitely an auditory learner.
Did you recall the way your fingers moved when you typed it? You are one of the kinesthetic learners.
Visual learners find it easier to remember new information if it is in the form of a table, infographic, or mind-map. They prefer to read or watch videos and movies. Try to graphically present everything you have learned after the class by drawing your own diagram or table.
Auditory learners absorb podcasts and audio recordings well. They memorize new information by talking it out. If you are an auditory learner, try retelling the lesson in your own words or imagine explaining the topic to different people: your teacher, a fellow junior, your seven-year-old niece, or a cab driver.
Kinesthetic learners, in turn, need practice: once you understand a topic, go immediately to practice what you've learned. Watched a video about training your dog? Off you go, leash it up and start teaching it new tricks. Read the recipe? Head to the stove and create.
No matter how you study or what you learn, don't be toxic to yourself — that's the main principle of successful learning. We are all human, and we all happen to skip classes, be lazy, and be procrastinators. This is normal, and you shouldn't berate yourself for it. The main thing is not to get on the lazy track. To avoid this, follow the principle "never miss twice" and look for a convenient way to study. Let education be, not a heavy duty, but a pleasure!