Interested in Continuous Learning? How Adding Slack to Your Day Helps
“Get more done.” That seems to be the mantra of many productivity gurus. They advise, “Schedule your day, your week, the next six months, the next five years, and you’ll get more done.” The problem with this approach is that it leaves little time for tapping into the transformative power of continuous learning.
While there are many benefits to schedules and to-do lists, if you’re not careful you can get stuck in just getting through the day, getting stuff done. And when “life” happens it blows your well-ordered life to pieces.
On the other hand, if you focus on living mindfully, and you adopt a continuous learning mindset, you’ll be able to savor each moment, squeezing the very essence out of every day. When you practice embodied learning in a way that extracts the things, emotions, nuggets of wisdom that really matter, that’s when you gain richness and meaning in your life.
Here’s the key to successfully embracing a lifelong, continuous learning lifestyle…
Instead of striving for the maximum productivity, purposely create slack in your day so you have room for curiosity, creativity, doing quality work and really mastering a skill. It might seem counter intuitive to take slack time out of your busy schedule. And you might feel resistance against the idea. Yet I assure you, it works!
Adding slack to your day supports continuous learning because…
1. You get to focus on what you really want to learn. You stop thinking only about accomplishments (which leads to perfectionism). Instead, you start enjoying the process of trial and error, with the goal of becoming competent. This approach builds in the acceptance that you don’t have to, nor want to, do things perfectly, because what you want is to learn.
2. You get to switch from doing things automatically to doing things deliberately. You reclaim your power by accepting responsibility. You make the choices. You don’t blame yourself or others if something doesn’t work as you expected. You look for opportunities to make improvements.
3. You get to accept honest feedback. It’s one thing to ask for feedback and another to accept it graciously. Being a lifelong learner gives you the strength of character to embrace it, not viewing it as criticism but as a learning experience that makes you better.
4.You get to develop insight. You’ll understand “why” something is as it is. You’ll have a better perspective on the lessons involved, seeing the reasons why you or someone else feels, thinks and acts as they do. This takes your understanding to a much deeper level and helps you create stronger connections with yourself and others.
5. You get to create solutions as problems arise. When you’re on a tight schedule, it’s tempting to put problems on the back burner, but that makes them simmer and grow into crises. Having slack gives you the space to address problems while they’re small.
Become a lifelong learner by making time for continuous learning. Please set aside time for learning activities and experiences. Read a book each week, engage in deep conversations, take classes, and cultivate your power of observation.
Learn something new every day. For example, the next time an “automatic” activity and response arises, stop yourself and think about which skill you can practice. Do you want to communicate more effectively? Practice that. Do you want to influence others for the good? Then practice that. Do you want to find joy and happiness? Practice that.
In this way, you retrain yourself to view every event as an opportunity to learn and improve. By focusing on continuous learning, you’ll feel more satisfied because what you do brings you pleasure, a sense of accomplishment and knowledge that you’re living up to your full potential.
If you’d like specific pointers on how you can implement these suggestions as you live a more intentional life, please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).