For a lot of people, once the days of school are over and proper employment begins, it’s hard to find sufficient time to pursue continued learning. But if you can set aside a few hours each week, these methods will help you squeeze valuable new lessons into your limited free time.
Take online classes
Were you a particularly good student in school? If you find that a well-moderated curriculum works best in terms of facilitating your learning, then taking online classes might be the best way to make use of your free time and further your education. There are many options covering a wide range of fields; you could target specific short-term boot camps such as a Cisco ACI training course, or pursue a long-term online degree over several sessions. Online classes offer great flexibility, combined with in-depth knowledge, curated materials, and valuable feedback from both instructors and peers. If you can spare even an hour or two when you get home from work, you can make rapid progress in any skill.
Read more nonfiction
Reading is a fundamental skill for anyone who’s interested in becoming a life-long learner. Make no mistake, reading fiction is essential for honing skills such as empathy and critical thinking; but it’s also a hobby that many people find easy enough to get into for entertainment reasons, at least to begin with. Nonfiction books, on the other hand, can require a deliberate effort. Informational texts aren’t written to entertain, but can be a very rewarding source of specialized knowledge and help broaden your perspective by connecting multiple disciplines. Make a habit of reading nonfiction, and you’ll find that even dense technical works become accessible, allowing you to learn whenever you can spare the time to pick up a book.
Join a community
Learning in your free time doesn’t have to be a solo effort – and there are some powerful benefits associated with learning in a group setting. Our interactions with other people help to accelerate learning and improve knowledge retention; in a particular aspect, you may encounter more advanced learners who can bring you up to speed, while teaching back helps reinforce your mastery of a subject. Becoming part of an online learning community is a great way to connect with other people sharing similar interests, facilitating peer-to-peer learning through discussions, collaboration, and developing a sense of accountability and engagement. Your participation can be flexible and doesn’t require a lot of time invested; just hit up the forums and search for topics of interest as a start.
Engage in a creative activity
While people may have different preferences when it comes to modes of learning, there’s no doubt that learning by doing is an effective way of getting something to stick. Nobody is born knowing how to drive, but spend enough hours behind the wheel and it eventually becomes second nature. Find a creative activity that can facilitate your learning in any discipline. You don’t have to be good at art, but you can draw up a diagram or flowchart to map out processes or make sense of new ideas and thus improve retention. Write a blog post about how you understood something you read, and you could also gain feedback from people willing to share a new perspective.
There are other ways to pursue continued learning; start with these four if you have minimal free time and you can build upon that progress.