How to make learning a new skill a part of your daily routine
It is safe to say we all have aspirations to learn new skills. We want to progress in our careers, learn new languages, be healthier, or be a better person. Establishing new skills is the pathway to expanding yourself as a person and as a professional.
Actually learning the skill, however, can make us feel defeated when we fall short. In order to make anything stick in your life, it has to become a habit. That is where making learning a new skill part of your daily routine can be helpful.
Once you have mastered how to plan and attack your goals every single day, you feel like there is nothing you can’t do!
The following are some tips on how to make learning a new skill part of your daily routine.
Establish a master timeline of goals
To truly learn a new skill and make it part of your lifestyle, it is essential to get really clear on your goals. The best way to find clarity is to answer some questions about your what, why, and how.
Spend some time journaling about these questions:
- What new skill do I want to learn?
- Why do I want to learn this skill? (A new job, better health, spiritual growth, etc.)
- What does ultimate success look like once I have mastered this new skill?
- What am I willing to do every day to learn this new skill?
- When do I want to have this skill mastered?
- What are resources I can use to learn this new skill?
Once you have clear goals outlined around this new skill, it’s time to put the calendar to work. Write down action steps and deadlines for smaller goals along the way.
Put them into your planner or calendar, just like you would appointments for work or school. This master timeline will guide you to keep you on track and ground you with some accountability.
One of the biggest mistakes people make in trying to establish a new habit or skill is tackling too much at once. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of something new, but doing too much, too fast, is the easiest way to burn out quickly.
If you want this new skill to be something you do every day, the smaller, the better. Consider this: how likely are you to do something every day that takes you an entire hour? Between work, home, family, and other obligations, that hour of daily time can be daunting.
But what if the task only took you five minutes? That is much more reasonable and way less intimidating.
Track your progress
Tracking your progress not only helps you understand if you are establishing a new skill, but it also offers some accountability and motivation.
By tracking your progress, you can celebrate small victories as you work towards your ultimate goal. Hopefully, in your master timeline, you have outlined some smaller goals to work towards. Use these as checkpoints to see your progress.
Don’t forget to schedule progress check-ins. Maybe it feels right to check-in during your morning coffee or reflect on the day’s progress before bed. A quick check-in each day, or even week, moves progress forward and keys your eye on the prize.
Identify your top time wasters
What is the main hurdle to achieving anything? Lack of time. If you feel like you don’t have time to devote to learning a new skill, it might be time to take an audit of how you spend your time.
There are a couple of ways to review your time spent:
- List the things you already know you waste time on. Perhaps you scroll social media longer than you need before you start work. Perhaps you have an excessive Netflix habit.
- If you are having a harder time recognizing your time wasters, spend a week logging your time. Set a timer for a certain duration (every half hour or hour, for example). When the timer goes off, write down or digitally log what you have spent the last chunk of time doing. Be specific.
At the end of the week, review your time log. Are there areas spent doing things that aren’t important to you? See where you could cut some non-beneficial activities to replace them with making progress towards your new skill.
- Another way to approach the time audit is to measure time every time you switch a task. This style of time audit will not only help you identify time wasters. It can also help you better understand exactly how long a task will take you.
It turns out that humans are terrible at estimating how long it will take to do something. Psychologists have identified human’s tendency to under or overestimate time with terms like the planning fallacy and the optimism bias.
If you underestimate the time something will take or, it can lead to pushing past deadlines or completely dropping a task.
The opposite side of the coin is overestimating how long it will take you. This can lead to procrastination because you continue to put off something you think will take a long time.
Following the time audit, it is time to get honest with yourself.
How are you going to cut those time-wasters out of your life? Will you be able to maintain your sanity without your hourly Facebook check?
The answer is yes because you will have the added satisfaction of working towards something that means something to you. That is better than any time waster out there!
Featured image courtesy of Pexels
Heather Redding is a part-time assistant manager, solopreneur and writer based in Aurora, Illinois. She is also an avid reader and a tech enthusiast. When Heather is not working or writing, she enjoys her Kindle library and a hot coffee. Reach out to her on Twitter.