Continuous learning is one of the key drivers in achieving entrepreneurial success. Even if you graduated at the top of your class in business school, there are still a lot of things you have to learn outside of the four walls of a classroom. But how can you expand your knowledge when your business/es takes up the majority of your time? Here are some tips that can help:
1. Use gaps in your schedule
What do you do when you’re stuck in traffic, waiting for your flight at the airport, or while you’re in between meetings? If you find yourself scrolling through your phone or otherwise staring into space, why not use these usually unproductive times to listen to a business podcast, read an article about facts to know about life, or flip through an educational book? You’ll have the time to learn if you make time for it, even if it’s just those little gaps in your already busy schedule.
2. Take MOOCs
MOOC stands for Massively Open Online Courses, which allows busy people to take lessons at their own pace. If your work doesn’t allow you to take classes at set schedules, opting for MOOCs will let you learn during times that fit your schedule best. Moreover, many MOOCs are free. But if you want to get a certificate, you have to pay a fee.
3. Learn in small bits
When you are a busy entrepreneur, you probably don’t have the time to sit down for three hours and pour over a business journal in one sitting. Even when you do, you might want to use it to rest or spend time with your family. So instead of trying to force yourself to consume knowledge in large quantities at a time, break it down into more manageable pieces. Not only is this more applicable for your busy lifestyle, but it also keeps your brain from being oversaturated with knowledge to the point that you won’t even remember it weeks from now.
Read for 30 minutes instead of an hour. Watch one half of that educational video and save the rest for later. Listen to a short podcast instead of a long one. As long as you remain consistent, your knowledge will increase over time despite taking it in smaller bits.
4. Make sacrifices
Sometimes, it can be super tempting to just lay in bed during your off day and binge-watch your favorite show on Netflix. While there’s nothing wrong with doing that, especially after you’ve had a hard week, it won’t hurt to squeeze in an hour or two of learning.
When you are an entrepreneur, making sacrifices in your personal life is not uncommon. Apart from duty calls, you also have to make sacrifices when it comes to making time for learning. So even if you really don’t want to get up from your couch right now, you’ll thank yourself later when you do.
5. Manage your expectations
When it comes to expanding your knowledge, expecting to be the perfect student will bring only disappointment. No, you might not always get to finish the reading material, or get perfect scores on your MOOC quizzes, or understand what you’re reading the first time–and that is perfectly okay. Being an entrepreneur is already challenging enough, actively trying to learn despite your busy schedule can make it even harder. So as much as possible, try to manage your expectations in a way that won’t put even more pressure on yourself.
6. Learn from others
Apart from books and blogs and online classes, learning from other people is one of the best ways to expand your knowledge. By simply talking to mentors over coffee or by instant message, you can pick up valuable nuggets of knowledge while also developing your relationship. Gaining knowledge from peers or mentors not only helps expand your world view, but it can also help you make connections with the right people in your industry, which can benefit your business in the future.
Whether you are an entrepreneur or a regular office worker, learning never really stops after you graduate from school. But when you have a business to run, continuous learning helps pave the pathway to your success, even when you think you’ve already learned everything there is to learn.
Use these tips to extend your knowledge despite having a busy schedule. Even if it seems that there is not enough time to learn, you can always make time when you really want to.
Do you have other learning strategies to share? Leave them in the comments below.