When you work a full time job, carving out study time to learn something new can be a challenge, especially if you have children at home.
Sometimes, just thinking “where will I find the time?” can be enough to make you quit before you get started.
I’ve been there in the past. I find myself in that situation yet again after making the decision to deepen my knowledge. I decided to not only purchase several books, I also took advantage of a sale on Udemy to invest in some classes.
I had a bit of a moment at this point. I work 10 hours a day at the factory; aside from quitting my job and resuming life on my royalties, how in the world would I pull this off?
I don’t want to quit my job, however. I actually like my job. It gives me the interaction I need with the outside world that helps keep me sane. As long-term readers know, I tend to go a bit bonkers when I hang out at home for too long. I also like the fact that this job allows me to stick my book royalties straight into savings; this increases my future income should something happen that causes me to rethink things. Even more important to me, the money I earn brings me closer to my goal.
Since I didn’t want to quit my job, I needed to get creative. While I have two or three days a week that I can study (depending upon my schedule), I also need to clean my house and do any shopping. I may not shop as much as a lot of people, but I do need to buy food on occasion.
This is how I solved the problem and carved out 10 hours a day to study. You can use this method to carve out time for any project.
The first thing you need to do when you need to carve out time in your life is to forget everything you think you know about time management. There is a lot of confusing information out there, and most of it is contradictory.
Most of us lead unique lives, so our solutions need to be as unique as we are. Our goal is to improve our lives, not force our square pegs into round holes, after all.
When it comes to learning, we have all been taught from an early age that the only way to learn something new is to apply our butt to the chair and crack open a book.
The world has changed so much, however, that this no longer applies. While it is an effective way to learn, most of us don’t have enough free time to even think about sitting down!
Analyze Your Environment
Take a few days to analyze not only your environment, but your habits.
- Do you wake up a few hours before you have to leave for your job?
- Do you have a long commute?
- Does your job have those “hurry up and wait” moments?
- How long are your breaks at work?
- Are you able to hide in your bathroom (at home) for some peace and quiet? (Moms, I’m looking at you!)
- Can you carry any study materials around like a book or even a phone?
- Are you allowed to listen to music with headphones or watch videos at some point during your workday?
- SAHMs, do your kids still take naps?
- Do you watch television, play video games, or scroll social media before/during/after your shift?
Don’t rush this process. Just go through your normal day while taking mental notes of any potential opportunities to study. Chances are, some ideas will come to you right away, but it may take a week or longer to notice an opportunity. Just keep your mind open; you may not be able to locate time to read, but you may be able to watch a quick video or listen to a lecture or podcast. Or you may be able to read ebooks or other digital materials in short spurts on your phone.
Remember, there are many different ways to learn these days. You have books, lectures, podcasts, videos…I’m certain that there are other ways to learn that I haven’t even thought of, ways that you can learn or even practice what you are learning during your day. By the way, do you know of any learning method I’ve missed? If you do, give me a shoutout in the comments below, thanks!
Devise Your Learning Plan
Did you see an opportunity where you could pull out your phone or a book and read a bit? Perhaps you’re allowed to listen to music while you work? Maybe you can wake up a few minutes earlier, or hide in the bathroom longer.
Even the smallest bits of time can be used to learn. Years ago when I decided to take a computer repair course and launch my repair business, I realized that I could read before I clocked in and on my break. It wasn’t much, but it was something! My coworkers teased me until they discovered that I’d actually leveraged the knowledge I’d gained in those studies to build a small but profitable business.
Prepare to Launch
If you discover that you have small pieces of time in which to read, prepare by either placing a book in your bag or loading an ebook on your phone. Test it; few things are more annoying than sitting down to read and not being able to open the book!
If you’re able to watch short videos, test to confirm that you can watch them. Some places don’t have quality cellphone signals; if that’s your situation, download some relevant videos to your phone.
If you are able to listen to music, download some lectures, audiobooks, videos, or podcasts to your phone in preparation. While you may not be able to sit down and watch a video, many are designed to allow you to receive the knowledge while just listening instead of actively watching the videos.
As for me, I now listen to audiobooks and related materials while I work each day. I mix it up with some music for variety, but I’ve now gained study time while on the clock at my job…with no one being the wiser except for you! Shh! Don’t tell on me! 🤫
Have you ever done anything creative in your quest to improve your life? Please share your stories in the comments below.