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An Environment for Learning

An Environment for Learning

Let’s say you decide to go back to college.

This time, you are going to do it on your own terms. Not because you have to, but because you want to. You are older and wiser now, and you have the ability to look back, taking advantage of the fact that hindsight is 20-20.

However, we’re not going back in time; you are making this decision as one for today. You have arrived at the golden state of being an adult learner and you fully understand the value of lifelong learning. You now know why you need to take certain courses, challenging your professors to coach and mentor you, not just lecture you. Further, you know that if you plan ahead enough, you can interview your prospective professors, choosing the best who teach the courses you’ve elected to take.

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Let’s also say, that you do have to play by the rules. You have to take a core curriculum first, getting basic credits out of the way before you get to the ‘good stuff.’ Still, you are not willing to just do the time, going through the motions, sitting there waiting for the bell to ring so you can be on to the next thing. You’re going to engage, milking every moment for what it’s worth, playing offense and making it count. You now understand it isn’t just what you’re learning, but how you learn it. Comprehension versus memorization, questioning versus naïve acceptance, retention and personal application … you now understand the bennies of the ‘how’ that comes with the ‘what.’

How would you make the most of it?

What is the best possible environment for learning that you would create for yourself, one where you get all fired up and excited about learning? How will you fit this charged-up experience into the total form you are creating for your life, so there is no overwhelm, no stress, just a great fit? What are the differences that hindsight has helped you reconcile?

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Yes, you definitely are older and wiser now. You consider these things carefully. Deliberately. Purposefully.
Have some thoughts in mind? Good.

Next step: Think about how you can create your imaginary college plan for the best possible learning environment where you work, and in the job you have right now. For the role you have.

  • The ‘teacher’ is your boss, or another workplace mentor— who? And that’s just one of them; reconsider your entire professional network. No college student settles for just one professor, why should you?
  • The tuition payments are captured on that line item of your business plan called ‘staff education, training, and tuition reimbursements.’ Are you using it up each budget year, or have you let it waste away untouched?
  • The course curriculum you choose from? Well, the world is your oyster, and the classrooms could very well be virtual ones. Come to think of it, you could probably make some killer app choices which don’t cost you a dime now that you’re wired up for internet access as your now-world basics … it’s just another utility payment, right?

Now the cool part, the fun part. Remember, this is about want to, not have to:
What are your choices?

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  • What will you choose to learn?
  • Why did you make those choices? What is your ultimate goal? Did you write down your learning objectives so you can check them off, and stay the course?
  • What’s the value add? Remember, this is today, and you’ve become someone who understands that ‘payment’ is about much more than money. You want some ROI for effort and for your precious attention; what is it?
  • When will you be ‘in class,’ and have you blocked those sacred times on your calendar as non-negotiable?
  • Your ‘grading’ has probably become some kind of metric, a measurement. Of what? When are your grading periods; your ‘semesters?’ When will you feel you can tip it into some workplace synergy, so you know it truly counts?
  • We learn for the second time when we teach it, and we become mentor and coach. Who will be your student, and when can you start the goodness for both of you? Perhaps it can be a combination debrief-dialogue/re-teaching… Have you calendared those times too?

The environments most conducive for learning have very little to do with brick and mortar classrooms, don’t they.

In today’s world, where the phenomenal spider web of optic cable and wireless wizardry connects us to teachers around the globe, location needn’t be a factor at all.

The best learning environments are created by and constructed with our brains, our attitudes about learning, our unwillingness to waste a single moment of thought, and choices which are made. Once made, lifelong learners cement their choices into the best form for their lives by decisive, deliberate actions. They then re-teach because they can’t not teach; learning excitement has captured their spirit and enlivened it with renewed energy.

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Want that for yourself. Do not let another day go by paying lip service to being a lifelong learner. This is your life; grow it with learning that matters because it matters to you.

Related Articles:

  • Line Up for Learning! We have a learning forum coming up on Talking Story soon; let us help you with your choices on the what and the how!

Rosa Say is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. She is the founder and head coach of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership. For more of her ideas, click to her Thursday columns in the archives; you’ll find her index in the left column of www.ManagingWithAloha.com

Rosa’s Previous Thursday Column was: It’s not the Perks

More by this author

Rosa Say

Rosa is an author and blogger who dedicates to helping people thrive in the work and live with purpose.

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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