How to Find Time and Ways to Study While Working

I get nervous whenever there is an announcement on company restructuring. Someone is going to lose their job. Loyalty is underrated. The company only assess our skill and its alignment with the business strategy. Any misalignment will be deal with swiftly.  We have to find time to improve and stay relevant in the job market.

Anyone who draws a paycheck is at risk of losing their jobs. Many of us may feel trapped in our jobs. We put up with it because we need it to put food on the table. The only solution is to skill up and grow beyond the job. 

As a full-time employee and a full-time dad, to find time to study is not easy. I have signed up to many online courses but I never got around completing any of the courses. 

My excuse is I could not find time to study.  

I have decided to challenge my excuse. I will find time to study. In about two weeks, I have completed multiple short courses in LinkedIn Learning

Some find my method and dedication extreme. It is to the point of obsession. There is a worry of burning out. Yet, the more I studied. The more engaged I get into the act of studying. 

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In any journey, you must know why you are doing it? By having the correct mindset, you will find time to do the necessary work. 

In my 30s, I have wasted most of my life believing that I can achieve success by merely thinking about it. I hang out with bad friends. We did nothing but bad-mouthing our jobs and life. It was only a series of retrenchment that woke me up. I may lose my job and I do not have a plan B.

Time is ticking. The race is to improve is on! There is no turning back. I cannot gain back the time that I have wasted. I can only keep moving forward.

We cannot be greedy. If we aim to study as many hours as possible. We will soon burn out, frustrated and quit. The aim is just to improve 1% a day. In 72 days, we would have double our knowledge.  

Here are my methods. My methods may not work for you. I encourage you to explore and feel free to share in the comments section.

I start my Monday on a Sunday night. I plan out the work that I need to do and the study topics that I want to cover for the week. On LinkedIn Learning, the courses are broken into multiple videos. Base on each video, I know how much time I need to finish and understand the video’s content. 

I am a person who is easily distracted. I cannot study in a group or an environment is highly engaging. I choose to study alone. I prefer to lock myself in a quiet room and do the necessary study. If I have to hide in the kitchen or the toilet, I will do it! For as long as I can study. 

You may prefer to study in a group setting. The choice is yours. You have to be honest with yourself that you are finishing your studies. 

I am a morning person. I guard the first waking hour with my life. The first hour is my time. That’s the time where I find myself most engaged and feeling refresh. My first hour is always a mixture of study, exercise and meditation. By completing two or more of the task, I feel good about myself and I am set for the day. 

What is the time where you can be most effective to study? Guard it with your life and schedule that time for your studies. 

I have been practising intermittent fasting for about two years. I would only eat between 1 pm and 9 pm. I may feel hungry during late morning but I noticed I can think and concentrate better. I do not feel sleepy in the afternoon. 

While everyone in the office is away for lunch or coffee break. I would fire up my learning program. By skipping breakfast and coffee break, I found time to study. 

LinkedIn Learning has a goal tool that allows you to set the hours that you want to study for the week. Make use of the tool. Gamify the whole learning experience. Every week, I would try to match or exceed the study hours. When you have the motivation, you will find time to study.

You may not agree with this approach. I always have two topics in the pipeline. Whenever I am tired of one topic, I will switch to another. It takes twice the amount of time to master one topic. Nevertheless, I find this approach effective. If I have to force myself to study when I am bored. I am not able to retain anything that I have learned. 

There is never a perfect moment to study or to chase your dream. Therefore you should not wait for the elusive perfect moment. If I have pockets of time for as much as 10 minutes. I would take the opportunity to write or study. There are certain topics would require longer concentration. I will have to schedule a time for it. It is normally early in the morning or after the kids are all asleep.

The best way to learn is to share your knowledge. I write about what I learned through my blog and LinkedIn. Writing helps me to gather my thoughts and challenge my understanding. Without writing it down, I do not know how much I have grasped the idea. 

By sharing my ideas, I can reach out to like-minded individuals. 

These individuals are chasing the same dream as me. They offer opportunities to network and provide valuable feedback on my work. Getting feedback is not for the faint-hearted. You put your ideas and hard work for the world to see. The feedback will come back hard and fast. It may not be anything that you want to hear but necessary to take heed. You have to suspend your ego when asking for feedback. It is better to have a bruised ego than not improve at all.

These are all the methods that I have used to find time to study and improve my knowledge. It has served me well. I encourage to dig deep and explore within you. Have faith that you can learn new skills and remain relevant in this ever-changing world. Ultimately you will find the time and put in the effort if you want it bad enough. 

To create, You Have to Face the Blank Page.

Blank Page
Blank Page

I have been staring at the blank page for at least 10 minutes. I do not know what to write. My mind is blank. I procrastinate by reading more. I do not dare to face the blank page. A blank page is a perfection. There is nothing to edit.  

Before you can create, you have to face the blank page. The is a page that challenges us to dig deep. It urges us to create. To put out our work and show to the world. 

We all now living in the age of information abundance. We have no more excuse for the need to know more before we start working on a project. 

“The wonderful thing about writing is that there is always a blank page waiting.

The terrifying thing about writing is that there is always a blank page waiting.” ― J.K. Rowling

We cannot wait for inspiration to come. Every day, we have to show up to create. It does not matter how you feel, you have to show up. The process of creation is scary. You go from nothing to something. You are the creator of your world.

To face down the blank page, you have to sit down and do the work. What happens if you are not inspired or do not feel like doing the work? You still sit down and face that page. You are allowed not to do any work but you are not allowed to do other things. It is boredom or creation. The choice is yours. 

“…she (the artist, the writer) doesn’t wait for inspiration, she acts in the anticipation of its apparition.”

― Steven Pressfield

Start small. We dream of big dreams. Each journey starts with a small first step. Start putting one word on the page. Repeat the process until the page is filled with your words. 

Know your energy. When do you feel best and most creative? The hour belongs to you. It the hour is in the morning. You have to protect it with your life. The world can have the rest of the 23 hours but the hour of creativity is yours. 

It is not the tool it is you. My dream pen is the Pilot 823. I have never tried that pen but I want to own it. It is recommended by Neil Gaiman as his workhorse pen. I know I will not buy it. Having that pen does not make me a better writer. That pen will not give me the courage to face the blank page. I have to face the empty page. Do not blame the tools. It is never the tools. It is us who has to find the courage to start writing down the words. 

The journey is lonely. You can sign up for the mastermind group. A group of people who will encourage you to start work and keep going until you are done. They can lead you to the blank page but they cannot write it for you. You have to pick up the pen and start writing on the blank page. The journey of creativity can be lonely. The people around you can only be your cheerleader. Let the solitude help you to know yourself better. 

“I have to be alone very often. I’d be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That’s how I refuel.” ― Audrey Hepburn

It is all on you. The blank page, the work and the results, it is all on you. You have to be responsible for your work. It is scary. There is no one to blame but yourself. Take ownership of your work. Give your best effort. Most importantly, sign off with your name. 

Everything starts with facing the blank page. 

Don’t Just Read, Do It

Supplement
Supplement

Walk into a pharmacy. Pick up a supplement and start reading the label. Once you understand the product, put down the supplement and leave. Do you feel healthier from just reading the label?

You have to take the supplement to enjoy its effects. Reading the label is not enough and will never be.

Many of us spend time reading the net, buying the book in the name of research. We are in the age of information. Having more information is not the answer.

We must take the supplement. We must take action.

If you want to write that book, write it. If you want to build that application, build it.

You will only know what you need when you hit a roadblock. Until then, put down that book and pick up the tool.

When No One is Watching

Discipline
Discipline

There was a teacher who leads a group of students in the poor countryside. The villagers who live in the countryside supports both the teacher and students.

One day, the teacher announced that he would like to marry his daughter to one of his students. The teacher wanted to have a grand wedding. Since they are poor, the teacher informed the students that whoever can steal the most from the village, he will marry the daughter to the student. The only condition is that the student can only steal when no one is watching.

Soon, the students brought all kinds of valuables back to the teacher hoping to marry the daughter. Except for one student, he came back empty-handed.

The teacher was furious. The teacher demanded an explanation of why the student came back empty-handed? The student explained that even though no one else was watching him. He was watching ownself stealing from the villages. Therefore, he could not steal from the villages.

The teacher smiled. The teacher then announced that he will marry his daughter to this student as the student understood the teaching. Later, the teacher instructed the students to return all the stolen goods to the villagers.

We are being watched at all times. It could be by the public or ourselves. When someone is watching, we would be careful with our actions and words. What happens when no one is watching? Can you still hold the line of wisdom and discipline?

World-class performers spend thousands of hours practising their craft when no one is watching. That’s when real work gets done.

When you feel like cutting a corner, give in to laziness. Remember someone is watching you. The person is yourself. You owe yourself in performing the hard work, looking after yourself and maintain the self-discipline.