How to Sharpen Your Personal Reading (and Learning) Plan

CA-young execAs a talented professional, you know you should be investing in your professional development regularly. But the demands of daily life get in the way. How can you take in the information that you know is valuable (and in some careers, expected) while doing today’s important tasks? Try the LEARN method.

L – Lessen your time on social media and other distractions. I am guilty of frittering away lots of time–especially in the evenings when I’m less sharp–scrolling through social media. The short updates have contributed to a diminishing attention span, so I’m thinking that I should require myself to get through my page count for the day before I allow myself to scroll through social media. You could set a time limit or an alarm as well.

E – establish a routine. In my case, I’m determined to finish one book a month–it doesn’t always have to be a professional book. Note I said “FINISH” not “start and finish.” Some books are read over time (i.e. 365 day devotionals, large reference type books, etc. so their “finish” date may be months from now.) But since 2012 I have held myself to this routine and so far, so good.  Also, since I belong to Platform University, I have a weekly time (while riding my stationary bike) during which I take in the content and videos. This helps me make good use of the membership fee. If you don’t use materials, stop subscribing (and in some cases, paying out money) for access.

A- aggregate material you don’t want to miss. I use Feedly to subscribe to blogs I don’t want to miss, and to consolidate blog posts and enewsletters that I want to at least glance at.

R – read only what you are really going to digest. In the Feedly service I mentioned above, I used to subscribe to a number of blogs. I have recently gotten ruthless about editing my list. If the topic doesn’t interest me enough to click on it to read the post, there’s a good shot that the subscription is going to be eliminated. My goal is to get Feedly to become a newspaper of posts that I would want to read read nearly “cover to cover.” This means eliminating even some good–or really good–stuff. (I recently unsubscribed from the blog of a well known and quite popular author because I just wasn’t reading his stuff.)

N-note important thoughts using a service such as Evernote. Evernote is a great place to keep thoughts, ideas, and clippings of web pages for future reference without cluttering up other areas of your computer. Even so, mine has become a depository for so much that it could probably use some cleaning. This blog post though, came about because of question I got from someone in 2010 that I saved in my “blog post ideas” notebook.  Amazing how it triggered the creativity to write this post today!

Making time for personal and professional development is not always easy, but it is essential to stay up with an ever-changing world.

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