At this time of year, I’m all about the learning and self development. I do online courses, I go to events, I read books. And I listen to podcasts as if my life depends on it.
I have note pads filled with notes from seminars and events. I bet you do, too. I bet you sit in those sessions and make pages of notes, you take the handouts and file them neatly, you even download the slides from the presenter’s website and filed them somewhere on your iPad or desktop. You have all this amazing information that can help you to grow your blog, to improve your business, to make your life awesome.
The problem is, all that amazing information is still in the notebook or filed on your iPad or desktop.
You might have a hundred tips that will help you to improve your blog, your business and your life immeasurably – but you’re not doing any of them. You wrote them down, closed your notebook and went to the next class. Or for coffee with a friend. Or back to the chaos of your life.
We all come home from events and seminars feeling all inspired and thinking “right, I’ll just catch up on the work I missed while I was at that event, and then I will sit down and go through my notes.” And then life happens, and before we know it we’ve forgotten all about those notes and we’re carrying on exactly as we did before. We don’t implement what we’ve learned.
And then, when you look at it, that time spent listening to the podcasts, reading the books, attending the webinar, was actually just wasted time!
So what do we do? How do we actually manage to implement the things we’ve learned?
Firstly, find some time in your schedule to go through your notes. If you can’t find a spare hour somewhere in your life, well, stop reading here! Stop going to seminars, stop reading books, stop listening to podcasts and develop a deep and abiding love for soap operas.
If you can’t find time to implement what you’ve learned, you may as well not bother.
During your hour, go through your notes from the event and make a list of the things you want to do. Some will be small things you can do immediately, for example “stop posting crap on Facebook” or “start being more positive on social media.” For other things, you will need to schedule some more time to get them going. Things like setting up an email management system, creating a product, editing a page on your blog. Use the notes you’ve made to create a list of everything you need to find time to do.
Now put timings against those list points. How long do you need to allow yourself to set up an email management system? Give everything a time, and be generous. If you think it should only take you fifteen minutes, allow half an hour just to be on the safe side.
You know what the next step will be: fit that time into your schedule. If you need an hour to do one of these tasks, find a spare hour in your day. That might mean you have to cut other activities short, or that you have to remove other things from your list. That comes down to priorities: which do you want the most? That can be a tough one to answer. It’s easy to say “but I need to do this/that/the other” but realistically, how far will doing this/that/the other get you in the long term?
Bang! There’s your time to implement all these great things you’ve been learning about!
I can hear you wincing from here: I need my sleep! But ask yourself this – would you rather sleep, or improve your blog, your business or your life? If you don’t want to set your alarm a mere sixty minutes earlier in the morning, what you’re essentially saying is: yeah, I’d like to take my blog to the next level – but I’d rather sleep.
Ok, so we’ve established you’re either going to find the time, or watch Eastenders.
The final step is future planning.
Now you’ve managed to schedule this implementation time, how do you avoid being overwhelmed by it in future?
You need to become very discerning. Do I think I will learn anything from listening to this podcast? Will I learn anything by going to this event? Of course going to events also allows us to network and interact, and it’s fine to go just for that, and to attend sessions and seminars – but be strict with yourself about the notes you take. You’re not in college now; you won’t be tested on this at the end of the term. You don’t need to take detailed notes on everything the presenter says, even if they’re really energetic and engaging. Instead, only write down the things you really want to take home an implement.
When I take notes now, I use the right side of my note pad for notes about theory etc, and the left to note down anything I want to implement immediately. That allows me to easily pull out action points when I get home, and schedule the time I need to implement them.
Whatever system you decide to put in place, it’s important to be strict with yourself and to make sure you don’t get bogged down in it all. There is so much information available to you out there, but not all of it wil be relevant to you for what you want to do right now. The trick is to learn to cherry pick your take-homes… and then to take them home!
So often when we go to seminars or attend webinars or read books, we feel all inspired and convinced that this will be the thing that changes our lives. This one thing I’ve just read in this book will take my blog to the next level. But then we turn the page, and it’s forgotten. Hopefully here I have shown you a way to ensure these things we learn are not wasted time but time well spent in improving your blog, your business and your life.