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. 

Never Outsource Your Self-esteem

Self-esteem
Self-esteem

I have been programmed to outsource my self-esteem. I can create the ugliest drawing, the kindergarten teacher would shower me with praises. I get praises by doing household choirs without being told. As long as I do what I have been told, I will not get into trouble and I will get recognition. I have outsourced my self-esteem down to an art form. 

Since childhood, we yearn for recognition and praises. I know I still do. 

I turn to Facebook likes and Instagram likes for perk up my self-esteem. 

Put up a beautiful picture and get some likes. Boom, I already feel better about myself. Put up a smart quote and have someone share it. I feel even better about myself. If the post did not have the likes and shares that I expect, I get uneasy and nervous. Was I not good enough? I look at my feed every 10 minutes, are there any more likes and any more shares?

I am addicted to the numbers. A set of numbers that has no real meaning. Some people call it gamification. It is all a game. I win by having people to tell me that I am good even though deep down I know I am a fraud. If the numbers are low, I feel sad even though I have given it all I could. I am chained to the numbers. My happiness depends on the numbers. 

To get more likes. I have to create content that resonates with many people. Yet. Do I resonate with those content? I do not know. I just want more likes! Where is my self-esteem? I need my self-esteem. Give me more likes. 

Those likes and shares are nothing but plaster over deep knife wound. Likes and shares give me temporarily relieve. Deep down, I am never full filled and satisfied. 

Take back your self-esteem. Never outsource your self-esteem. You do not earn your self-esteem from other’s recognition. As it is, other’s are already having difficulty managing theirs. 

Do hard work. Self-esteem comes from hard work. We may want to avoid hard work. It is through hard work that you feel good about yourself. Do something different. Do something that you have never done but always wanted to do. Today, make your life slightly harder. 

From the Daily Stoic.

Confragosa in fastigium dignitatis via est. “It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness,” – Seneca 

Self-awareness. Take time to reflect your day. Take 10 minutes to ponder over your day. What have you done well? What can you do better? 

“I will keep constant watch over myself and – most usefully – will put each day up for review… Let us balance life’s books each day…” – Seneca

It is only through reflection, you will know how far you have come. Balance life’s books each day. 

Express gratitude. You may have a tough day. There are still many things that you can be grateful. Write down three things that went well from the past 24 hours. You learn to see the positive side of life by being grateful. Things are just not as bad as you imagined.

Hate your job? Someone just lost their job and wonders how to put food on the table. 

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” – Epictetus 

Watch your own words. Negative self-talk is not a form of motivation. It will never motivate yourself to do better. It is a negative growth mindset. Made a mistake? Screwed up? Good. You can find ways to perform better. You learn from it and keep going. Blaming yourself without any constructive criticism brings you to nowhere. 

Cut back on social media. Social media has its usefulness. Trying to gain likes and shares so that you feel good about yourself is not one of it. Limit your time on social media. What you see is only the highlight reels of others, but never their struggle. So what is there to feel jealous about other people’s post? What other sees in you is only your highlight reels. They do not know the real you. Never measure your self-esteem through likes and shares. 

Embrace winning and losing. In life, you win some and lose some. Neither state of winning and losing is permanent. Your self-esteem should not be measured by your wins. You should not deduct your self-esteem for losing. Life is a game. It is a game of effort and hard work. Winning and losing is merely a side effect and feedback. 

Your self-esteem is for yours to keep. As you move through life. You have to embrace hard work and accept things that you cannot change or influence. Be ready to get defeated by life. It is not a question of if but a question of when. Never outsource your self-esteem. 

Gain More By Sharing

For those who want to have a quality network or quality audience. LinkedIn is the perfect platform to get connected with professionals who are like you.
How do you stand out from a noisy and large crowd? In fact, how do you attract the correct group of people’s attention?

The keyword is “sharing”.

In LinkedIn, I would share technology news, productivity ideas and lifehacks that I find interesting.

I would use a tool called Buffer to schedule my postings. This tool helps me to stay engaged with my audience, especially on days where I am busy and could not do any postings.

Lately, I have participated in LinkedIn’s Daily Rundown. The editors share a daily writeup that made up of three pieces of news and a quote from a business leader.

I would take part in the discussion and share comments that I believe I can contribute to the writeup. I have been contributing to the writeup for four days.

Linkedin view
Linkedin view

The result is obvious. The number of views of my profile increased by 25%. I have also gained two new connections.

Does the increase in views and connections bring me immediate rewards? Probably not. However, by keeping myself relevant and taking part in the discussion, it helps me to keep studying and stay relevant to the industry.

If I never needed help or contact. I know I can to rely on my LinkedIn connections.

Does sharing work outside of LinkedIn? Yes! The act of sharing is the greatest gift. You can share your time by helping out at the local community hall. You can share your expertise on Quora. You can share knowledge with colleagues or classmates.

Through sharing, you know your knowledge gaps and you can improve on it.

The world does not owe anyone anything. We have to fight for what we want. Before we can receive what we want. We got to share it. Through sharing, we get recognition. We become the go-to person. By being the go-to person, opportunities will come our way.

See the world in abundance, and you will receive far more than you gave.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Amor Fati
Amor Fati

Hundred years from today, who will remember us? Probably no one. A rude driver cuts into your lane, does it matter one year from today?

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Life will frustrate you. Life will throw a curveball at you during the most inconvenient time. If you get upset with everything that is not going well in your life, you live a miserable life. 

German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche used the term “Amor fati“. In Latin, it means “love of one’s fate”. To love life is to accept life in its entirety. Loving life means accepting all the suffering and challenges. 

Human life is not short, nor is long. It is about how we manage life, to be productive, to be mindful, to live a life of loving-kindness. 

If you ever feel challenged or frustrated. Ask yourself, is it preventing you from living your full potential? If not, let it be. Don’t sweat the small stuff. 

Stop The Negative Labelling

label
label

Do you ever call yourself a procrastinator?
Do you ever call yourself a cheater?
The self-talk and labelling have prevented you from moving ahead in life.
You may have procrastinated but you are NOT a procrastinator.
You may have cheated but you are NOT a cheater.
By recognizing the labelling that you put on yourself. You will be on your way to recovery and change.
You are a go-getter. You are an honest person.

You cannot Control Life

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

It is the Serenity Prayer.

Life is never under our control. The only thing that we can control is our actions. The action to give up. The action to keep going. The action to accept.

The first feature of life is suffering. Without suffering we do not appreciate the moments of happiness. Life is filled with disappointments, sufferings, sickness, accident, deaths. To live life is to face disappointments.

Appreciate the good moments of life. Be ready for the bad moments of life. Do not be paralysed when life strikes at you.

Remind yourself, nothing is permanent. Happiness is not permanent. Suffering is not permanent.

May the Serenity Prayer brings you the courage to take action and accept life’s uncertainty. 

Do This When You are Stuck for Ideas

ideas
ideas

Ideas keep the world moving. James Altucher encourages his readers to write 10 ideas everyday. The practice is to strengthen the muscle idea. Let the bad ideas come out before picking the good ones.

Writing 10 ideas a day is not easy. Finding ideas to write is not easy.

I find myself getting stuck with problems all the time.

Whenever I feel I am stuck, I would clean up my environment.

If I am at my study desk, I will clean up my desk or the room. If I am at the cafe, I will clear the table and only leave what is important on the table.

Soon, ideas will start flowing.

If it still does not work? At least, I have a clean environment to work on. It works most of the time.

You Don’t Own Anything. You can’t Control Anything

Control
Control

My hair is greying. It is out of my control. If I own my body I would be able to stop the ageing process. I cannot stop the body from decaying with age.
My car had some issues; it cost thousands to repair. I did my best to look after the car and still, it breaks down.

We don’t own anything. Nothing is under our control. Whatever things that we have, life can take it all back.

I am not asking you to stop chasing your dream. Rather, I am asking you to prepare to lose whatever you have achieved.

Be content with what you have. You got a dream job. Good! You lost your dream job. Good! None of it is under our control. The only thing that we can control is our action and respond.

Live life to the fullest. Let your emotion and mind be as still as a clear lake. Do not let life’s gain and lost disturb your mind.

The One Mindset for Better Time Management

Time Management
Time Management

Have you ever let your motor vehicle run out of fuel and let it stranded by the roadside? You may have done it once or maybe twice but not always. Regardless, how busy is your schedule, you would find time to put fuel into the vehicle. Time management is all about getting the right things done.

You find time is because you know it is important to do it. It is non-negotiable. If you do not put fuel into the vehicle, you run a risk of getting stranded.

Whatever dreams that you are chasing now. You must know whether it is important enough for you to schedule the time. When it is not important, you will procrastinate. So if you have a dream that you have been putting off for a long time. Dig deep and ask whether it is important enough for you? Maybe you just like the idea of having that dream and never pursuing it.

If it is important? Schedule it and do it. That’s how you manage your time.