If you’re like me, you’re thirsty for knowledge and wisdom. I LOVE learning about personal development, tech, marketing, spirituality…all kinds of topics.
The problem is that we are now living in middle of “future shock” and “content shock“. There are an ever-expanding number of blog posts, email newsletters, podcasts, books, social media posts, and more. And it’s not slowing down!
- Over 2 million scientific papers are published every year (R)
- Over 4 million blog posts are published every day (R)
- Over 5,000 news articles are published in the US every day (R)
- Close to 1 million books are published every year (R)
So for people like us that love learning, this becomes a very unrealistic and overwhelming place to be. We just can’t catch up with all the interesting content that is being produced in the 21st century.
But I got a few tips for you on how to keep learning a lot, feel like you’re making a dent in your reading lists, and not feel overwhelmed doing it:
- Make sure your nutrition and sleep is on point
- Meditate (or pray)
- In general, don’t consume content until your spiritually and mentally centered
- Remember you will never know everything, and that’s ok
- Express gratitude for what you already know
- Blog or teach to solidify what you learn (teaching is the most effective way to retain what you learn)
- Journal and think about what you’ve learned, what happened each day, how you can do better in the future, and how you can apply what you’ve read recently to your everyday life
- Recognize that content FOMO is real but not productive
- Be selective in which content you choose (you’re allowed to delete and not read certain content if it’s not relevant)
- Use book summaries, table of contents, author quote sites, and Fractal Reading
- List all of the content you want to consume – podcasts, books, articles, etc – and choose which content will be the highest impact for you right now
- Sign up for email newsletters that curate the topics you care about
Phew, that’s a lot, right? Hopefully that list in itself was helpful and points you to some ideas you can use today to learn more.
But let’s tumble down the rabbit hole a bit!
Health, Nutrition, Meditation and Mindset
I know, I know. This is kind of an unusual starting point.
But bear with me.
Our minds are like computers. With computers, you have to do routine maintenance. With PC’s at least, you have to restart your computer often. Maybe clear out your hard drive, do a disk defrag, make sure you have a good power supply, and DEFINITELY don’t use too many browser tabs at once or else your computer might crash.
Same with the mind. We have to be well-rested, eat healthy power sources like whole foods, fruits, and veggies, regularly do a mental restart and clear out our “mental tabs” with meditation, practice gratitude for what we do know, and have an operating system that remembers we can’t know everything.
Treat your mind like it’s Windows 95 and restart often
Check out my ultimate guide to Christian wellness if you’d like an in-depth guide on how to do all of this effectively.
Blog, teach, and journal
Research shows that teaching others what you learn is the most effective way to learn, and actually retain what you learn. (R)
This can be accomplished in a lot of ways: Just tell your friends and family what you’ve been learning (in a not annoying way!), or blog (like this one!).
Another key way to solidify what you learn is to exercise what you learn. For instance, my day job is working for a marketing + design agency, so I do a lot of learning about Facebook ads right now (among other things). One webinar I watched about Facebook ads included a lot of different frameworks and systems for creating effective ads. So I took notes of the frameworks, and practiced applying those frameworks to two of our current advertising clients.
Lastly, you can learn faster and retain what you learn by journaling. Write about what you learned recently, whether the truth could be different from what you learned, and how you can apply it to your life.
Pick shorter, denser forms of content
Use Fractal Reading (coined by Michael Simmons), starting out with shorter versions of the books you want to read: book summaries, table of contents, even author quote sites like Goodreads.
The table of contents of any book are a surprisingly good summary of what the book can offer. Maybe there are only a few (or just one!) section that resonates with you, so you can read only that section and not waste your time with the other sections.
I also personally love quote sites like Goodreads. Try Googling the book name + author name + quotes, and see what pops up. Goodreads will offer a list of quotes for that author, and usually that specific book, sorted by most popular quotes. That gives you the highest-impact quotes and principles from that book, without having to read the entire thing.
Be picky + prioritize
With the enormous amount of content bombarding us, it’s important to remember: Not everything is worth your attention.
Such a simple thing, but it really is empowering to know that you don’t have to read every god-loving thing that pops up in your inbox or podcast app. Not everything is worth your time. Consume only what matters.
You might be familiar with the Pareto Principle or Peter Drucker’s principle of always doing what’s most important, so here’s another tip: Make a list of all the content you want to consume – podcasts, articles, emails, books. Making a list helps you see a big picture of all your options, and makes it easier to decide what is important for you to consume in that moment.
Another Pareto / Drucker-style tip: Choose content formats that are going to give you the most return for the time invested.
For instance, the other day I wanted to learn from Income School about SEO and affiliate marketing for my blog. They have a killer Youtube channel with lots of great how-to videos, both long and short, some more popular than others. I went through their video list, sorted by most popular, and chose a couple that had video titles that were most relevant to me, AND were 30+ minutes long. Many times, longer webinar-length videos are jam-packed full of actionable information, and are some of the most valuable content you can consume.
Subscribe to curated newsletters
Curated newsletters are email newsletters that curate the latest news and info on pretty much any topic you can think of.
I subscribe to curated newsletters on technology, futurism, marketing, spirituality, book summaries, personal growth, nutrition, and more. This is a really powerful way to take advantage of other people’s hard work to find the best insights, news, wisdom, and knowledge without you having to do a whole bunch of digging.
In closing, a few reminders
I’ve learned a lot of lessons over the years about the process of learning, with a lot of frustration and overwhelm. So I hope this article was helpful for you to learn efficiently, quickly, and peacefully.
Remember, learning is about quality, not quantity. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and have fear of missing out (FOMO) about the sheer volume of content that is being produced nowadays. But speeding through a whole bunch of books and podcasts and whatever else, doesn’t give that information the time to settle and simmer in your mind, so it can actually get used and applied and retained.
Take it slow, re-read the important bits of information. You’ll become a better human because of it.