Rhythm of learning, habits and practice

Jan 27, 2023

In an article my friend called for “stealing back time”. Just 18 minutes of it.

Say the deed is done. Your 18 minutes are ‘stolen’ and ready, what next? Well, you fit some well-crafted learning into it. And then do it again when you get the next 18 minutes, and again and again… you get the drift.

What is it about 18 minutes? You’ve heard that “a lot can happen over a cup of coffee”, we believe that a lot can be learned in 18 minutes.

18 minutes is the average time one takes to have a bath, listen to a TED talk or run just enough for your daily fitness fix. And, to also learn something new!

The world today seems to be a place where learning feels like “cram all you can, all the time” leaving many of us feeling overwhelmed with the amount of learning and underwhelmed with how much we were actually able to learn, assimilate and apply in work or life.

In fact, professionals today find their learning being outpaced by the rate of how quickly everything around us is changing. What then, is the answer?

Making a habit of learning and making the learning stick may be an answer. Carving out small slices may also be an answer.

Scientists are still figuring out how memory, learning and recall happen in the brain. What we do know for certain is that while we learn in different ways, we also easily, and quite shockingly, forget what we learn, very quickly. In fact, research shows that we forget as much as 50% in the first hour of learning and up to 70% in 24 hours.

Learning is not a walk in the park. But it is not an insurmountable mountain either. Each one of us has our unique ways of learning. Learning is truly a lifelong pursuit that keeps us alive and connected with ourselves and everything around us.

Take a look at this image.

Learning: A bumpy ride

What strikes you? Is it that learning is a roller-coaster? Or a joy-ride? Or an adventure?

It’s all this and more.

I’m sharing here what worked for me on my learning journey. I hope it helps you too.

  1. Once you’ve chosen what you want to learn, chart out your day. This is pretty easy to do. You just need to steal a few minutes to get to chart your day out.

  2. Now find that 18-minute window. It can be at different times on different days for various reasons. Try and block your calendar out a week in advance with various 18-minute slots. Once you look for these slots, you will find them or better still, you will be able to carve them into your day. Soon your day will look like this:

    Blocking those 18 minutes in your calendar...

  3. You are all set with time, and now let’s make it work for you. Remove all your distractions. Please put that phone as far away as you can. Set an alarm clock for 18 minutes and get started. Run the first 18 minutes and stop for a minute. Can you do another 18-minute slot? Sure. It’s your time and you own it. Go for it!

  4. Find your rhythm to discover what time slots work best each day. The key is to stick to at least one 18-minute slice a day. If you practice long enough – some say 21 days, some say 48 days – your mind and body are able to fully assimilate a practice. You will soon crave those 18 golden minutes.

  5. This daily practice of learning, with a minimum of one 18-minute slot a day, for about 1 year of practice, has opened up my mind in different ways. I’ve found joy in learning. I have discovered how I learn. I have learnt what I like to learn. I have also found people with whom I can share my learning and engage with in enriching conversations, both at home and work.

I now have learning partners! SmartStart can be your learning partner to start with.

Stay tuned for more experiences and nuggets on learning just enough and just in time. We would love to hear your experiences as well. If you have an idea for an 18-minute learning experiment, get in touch with us and we’ll help you create it.

Write to us at smartstart@adepticlabs.com

~ Chitra Gurjar



P.S. Chitra Gurjar first published this article on August 26, 2021 on LinkedIn.