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. 

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. 

How to Prepare for Tomorrow, Today

tomorrow
tomorrow

One day gone is one day less to live. Our life is like a bus ride. The bus of life keeps moving forward and will not turn back. Everyone has a designated stop. One day, we all will reach our stop. No one can stay on the bus forever. We do not know when is our stop. We have to make every day count because it will never come back. Prepare for tomorrow, today. 

To be ready for tomorrow, you have to sleep well. Life can be cruel and uncertain. A well-rested body and mind will get you ready for anything. 

Before you go to bed. Do a brain dump. Write down everything that is bothering you. The brain dump helps you to sleep. Many of us have tons of thoughts buzzing nearing bedtime. These thoughts can affect your sleep quality. So, it is best to put it all out on a paper

Here are some guidelines.

  • What is the one must-do item? This item has to be both urgent and important. For example, putting petrol into your vehicle. The car does not negotiate with you. When he runs out of fuel it stops, no exception. What is your must-do? You cannot procrastinate, you cannot negotiate with it.
  • What are the three important items? The items may not be urgent but important enough that you need to get it done. For example, a report that is due next week or the medical check-up that you have been putting off. Put it all down on your to-do list.
  • What else is bothering you? Write down what is in your mind. The purpose is not about finding a solution. It is about putting things into perspective. Chances are the things that are bothering you are not real issues. This exercise is to help you to have better sleep.

Bonus tip — Do a check-in before meals. Before you have your lunch or dinner. Go through your list. Are you progressing as expected? If you are on the track, maintain the momentum. If you are behind schedule, did you waste time or your expectation is unreasonable? Recalibrate, reload and keep going.

If you are interested in my reading. Please check out my reading list.

There is no Excuse. Chase Your Dream Now

I took part in the 2019 Kuala Lumpur Standard Chartered Marathon run. During the event, I noticed a limbless gentleman overtook me. He was on a skateboard paddling away. In my mind, he was chasing his own dream. There is no excuse. Chase your dream now.

Chris Koch
Chris Koch

The gentleman’s name is Chris Koch. He was born without any limbs. This did not limit him from doing things that is larger than life. He is a motivational speaker, surfer, farmer and kayaker. I am ashamed to say I am nowhere close to his achievement.

Besides taking part in the full marathon, he was also giving talks at a few schools located in Kuala Lumpur.

Chris Koch
Chris Koch

From the news, he comes off as someone energetic, funny and positive. Yes! He starts his life with a great disability. And he has done far more than someone who did in a lifetime.

He grew up in a family filled with love and support. Love conquers all. Including physical disability. His family did not write him off. He was given all the encouragement that he needs to be successful.

Mr Koch is like a modern-day swordsman Musashi who is seeking to improve himself and not afraid of hardships.

Please test the lowly Musashi with hardship. Let him become the greatest swordsman in the land, or let him die.

Mr Koch may not be as extreme as Musashi. Nevertheless, the intensity is similar to the great swordsman.

Many of us are luckier and abler compared to Mr Koch. Yet, we did not reach the full potential as he did. We have far more capability within us and we have squandered away. So what is your excuse?

It is essential to go through hardship and suffering to find our true callings. By going outside of our comfort zone, we will only know our new limits.

Life is a journey that we cannot u-turn. We have to keep moving. Do not waste your life. Mr Koch has achieved greatness. You too can achieve greatness. Chase your dream now.

Can You Sacrifice for the Greater Good?

To be a hero, we have to make choices that many are not willing to make. We have to make the sacrifice that many are unwilling to do.

In the 90s, Dr Shuping Wang has sacrifice job, her marriage, her happiness and her home to expose an HIV scandal in China.

Dr Shuping_Wang
Dr Shuping Wang

The local blood bank of Henan was trying to hide the epidemic of HIV cases. She found that as high as 13% of the donated blood was HIV positive. She reported the case to the central government. Due to the crack-down by the government, her colleagues were not happy. Eventually, her marriage broke down due to her husband was also ostracised by his colleague in the Ministry of Health.

In 2001, she left for the US and never went back to China. She left everything back in China. Her action has saved thousands of lives, especially the poor and those who are at risk.

Dr Wang died on 21 September during a hike with her friends. She was 59 years of age.

The measurement of life is not through time but how we have lived life. For Dr Wang, she may have died young. Her action has helped more people than many of us do in a lifetime.

She took the most difficult path of her life. She did the right thing at the cost of her everything. Not many can do what she did. She is not famous in her home country. The people who were saved by her action will never know her. They will never know her sacrifice.

Are you willing to do the right thing and sacrifice everything? And you probably be forgotten by history.

We may not have the chance to do something as great as dr Wang. We can live a life of truth, kindness and justice. Listen to your heart and you will know what you need to do. Start today and is a life that is worth living.

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. 

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. 

Your Life is like a Bus Ride

Bus ride
Bus ride

Imagine yourself boarding a bus. You do not know where you are heading. There is no driver.

In the bus, you meet people who care about you. You will also meet people who behave badly towards you.

You cannot get off the bus.

The bus will go through traffic jam and breakdown. The bus will also go through beautiful places.

The bus only travels at a constant speed. It will not go faster or slower.

During the journey, the passengers will board the bus and get off the bus. Every passenger has their stops. You have your stop.

Welcome to the bus of life.

In this journey, you will face life’s challenges. Those challenges will come and go. Be assured, none of it is permanent.

You will also face good times and happiness. These are not permanent as well.

The bus will just keep going. When it reaches your stop, you will have to get off the bus. The bus will continue its journey without you.

During this journey, you will learn that life is not permanent. Besides your action and thoughts. Nothing is under your control.

Whatever life throws at you. Manage each moment with your best effort. Surrender to life but never take each moment for granted. If you have to play, play hard. If you have to work, work hard. If you have to rest, rest hard.

Let your action fill the world with loving-kindness. Then, it is a life that is worth living.

Nobody Gives a Fuck About Your Dream

Middle Finger
Middle Finger

Read this again, “Nobody gives a fuck about your dream”.

Everyone has their dream to chase. They have no obligation to support your dream.

Stop complaining about nobody cares. You are right that nobody cares.

If you want others to care about your dream. You have to sell the dream to them. Make the dream to be part of their dream. Two persons chasing the same dream is better than one. Three persons chasing the same dream is better than two. Leverage other’s strength to attain your goal.

Instead of complaining, you have to sell your dream. Take ownership of your dream. That’s how you start and that’s how you will finish.

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.