Learning is really fun, there’s always something new to absorb. In fact, there’s a famous Chinese quote that says “You learn until your last breath.”
However, the problem is sometimes there’s so much to learn that it can get a bit overwhelming at times. Some people learn and absorb really fast, others are busy learning all the time but they find their progress rather slow. The difference is in how you approach learning. Most of the time, students are busy, but not many are productive.
“Productively learning” is much more efficient than “busy learning” as you not only save time, but also internalize the materials much faster. It might be a difficult concept to grasp, so here’s exactly how to go from busy to productive.
1. Make a big to-do list with the “Get Things Done” method
When there’s a lot of material on the syllabus to absorb, it can be quite daunting to try and cram everything at once. So, instead of just hitting the books on the get-go, start by writing everything down and organizing your tasks in a one big to-do list.
Literally, put every single task you can think of, big or small, onto this list.
With one big to-do list, you’ll quickly notice that different tasks deserve different levels of attention. Things that you can learn really quickly and benefit you almost instantaneously, or something you have to work on long term. This way you can prioritize what you need to absorb in order to grow as a person and in your career.
2. Prioritize what you need to learn by day, week, then month
Your overall efficiency and productivity skyrockets when your daily priorities are always aligned with your bigger goals.
When you prioritize learning new information this way, it greatly reduces completion bias and procrastination. You wouldn’t get sidetracked by chores because you’re dreading the big long reading assignment you’ve been putting off.
A well thought out to-do list gives you manageable and enjoyable learning sessions, while always contributing to your long term goals, meaning you’re always improving towards the right direction.
3. Know the difference between urgent and important
When there’s a lot of readings and assignments, most students find it incredibly difficult to start. They don’t know where or how. Have you ever stared at a pile of books you need to complete and just spaced out?
To combat this feeling, you need to know the difference between urgent and important assignments.
When prioritizing tasks, it is recommended that you identify which category they best fit in:
- Urgent and important: Do it ASAP!
- Important, but not urgent: Decide when you’ll do these and schedule a deadline for it.
- Urgent, but not important: Delegate these tasks to someone else.
- Neither urgent nor important: Drop these like a hot potato.
Created by former US president Dwight Eisenhower, the Eisenhower Matrix is a nifty little four-quadrant box that helps you separate urgent tasks from important ones.
Urgent tasks are things you feel like you need to do in that instant. For example, material that you need to internalize soon, homework that requires completion tomorrow or this week.
Whereas important tasks are things that contribute to your long-term career and personal growth. For example, learning a long-term skillset, internalizing knowledge that contributes to your long-term growth.
4. Identify the true values of each priority
As there are many things to learn, you need to know the true value each piece of info will bring you. For example, learning an essential skill is more beneficial to you than learning about bits of trivia in the long run.
There is learning for fun, and learning to grow. Identify what is most important and narrow down the core items you need to learn for the next day. This will help you stay on task and prioritize.
5. Bite the bullet first thing in the morning
“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”
― Mark Twain
Research shows that doing big tasks first thing in the morning boosts your daily productivity. The study proves that our brains feel a great sense of accomplishment and motivation when we’re able to get our tasks done first thing in the morning.
Adversely, the more we don’t complete it, the more we dread it.
Prioritization makes learning easy and fun
When you’re absolutely swamped with tons of materials to absorb, don’t fret and take it slowly.
Start off by listing out ALL of your tasks on a big to-do list. From there, you can use prioritization methods to create a daily productivity list. By doing so, you’re able to increase your efficiency when learning because you know exactly where to start, what you need to learn, and how you have to do it!
If you’re ready to take the next productive step in your career, check out the range of courses and diplomas from Academy of Learning Career College by requesting more info or booking an appointment with one of our course advisors.