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10 Things Only People Who Can’t Stop Learning Would Understand

10 Things Only People Who Can’t Stop Learning Would Understand

Learning matters in living a full and rich life. You can take your passing interest in art and explore it more deeply. You can also improve your career prospects by learning new skills. To discover the benefits of lifelong learning, read on.

1. They expand their library of books regularly.

As businessman Jim Rohn remarked, “Some people read so little they have rickets of the mind.” People with non-stop learning are often found browsing for books on Amazon, visiting their local library or book stores. Lifelong learners also ask friends and family for book suggestions, especially for non-fiction titles.

Tip: To reach your goals faster, choose books that relate to your goals: 15 Inspiring Books Every Leader Should Not Miss.

2. They take the time to ask questions when they take courses

Deep engagement with learning makes the experience more valuable and easier to remember. Fortunately, this tip is easy to use. Simply take a few minutes during a class break to write down some questions about the material. If you are taking a business course, you can always ask questions about how to apply the material to your career goals.

If you are uncomfortable asking questions in front of other people, there are other options. You can send questions by email or ask for an appointment to discuss the matter in depth.

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3. They learn to earn

Continuing education is vital to maintain your career growth. Lifelong learners view their education as a portfolio with several components. For example, project management professionals are required to pursue ongoing education in three areas: leadership, technical knowledge and management.

If you are seeking to increase your income, consider learning sales and marketing skills. Those skills make a great difference even if you are not in a traditional sales job.

4. They enjoy deeply exploring their interests and hobbies.

In the pursuit of the good life, lifelong learners know that career enhancement is not the only part of the picture. Foodies can explore their appreciation by  taking wine courses or improving their cooking skills (I have enjoyed taking wine courses at George Brown College in Toronto). In addition, there is much to be said for studying music, drawing and other creative efforts.

Tip: Read The Top 17 Ways Learning a Musical Instrument Gives You The Edge.

5. They enjoy the social aspect of learning.

By taking a course or attending a seminar, lifelong learners are exposed to other highly motivated people. It is sometimes difficult to find people who share a passion for lifelong learning. That’s why in-person learning is worth the price: the experience includes exposure to lifelong learners. There is also much to be said for the positive energy and excitement you can learn from a conference.

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6. They use what they learn to improve their lives.

Lifelong learners know that reading a good book on productivity, leadership or stress management is only the first step. If they read a productivity book such as “Getting Things Done” by David Allen, they know the value lies in application. Successful lifelong learners learn how to use the Weekly Review to improve their personal organization.

7. They know how to pursue lifelong learning on a budget

They know there are many different ways to acquire new knowledge and some of them are very easy to afford. For an easy to read introduction to a topic, I suggest reading a “For Dummies” book. I have found them a great way to learn new technology skills. There are also a wealth of resources available through many public libraries. Many public libraries provide access to traditional books, digital books, and video courses.

More learning options for learning on a budget:

Udemy.com: This online learning platform is known to provide frequent sales and discounts on courses covering technology (e.g. Microsoft Excel) , business skills, personal development.

Coursera.org: You can take over 1,000 college/university level courses for free through this website. There are specializations offered in Data Science, Data Mining, Cybersecurity and other fields.

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Clarity.FM: Have you ever wanted to get answers and advice directly from experienced business professionals? That’s what you can get from Clarity.FM. I have used this platform to obtain advice on online marketing and growing my email list.

8. They know how to learn from conversations with experienced people

Books, courses and other traditional forms of learning are effective. Yet, one must admit their limits – there is little interaction or customization. That’s why there is great learning value in speaking with a skilled person at length. A live interaction gives you the ability to learn and build a relationship at the same time.

To make the most out of a learning meeting with another person, take the time to prepare. Specifically, read about the person’s background and accomplishments (e.g. read their articles and books and their Linkedin profile). In addition, come prepared with a written list of questions. Finally, plan to pay for the lunch or dinner with the expert.

9. They know how to use journals and reflection to learn from their mistakes and errors

Everyone makes mistakes, even lifelong learners dedicated to learning a better way to reach their goals. That’s where reflection and journals come to play. For example, if you take a risk at work and it blows up, take the time to review the activity. Take twenty minutes (or more) to write in a journal about the experience. Ask yourself what lessons you can draw from the mistake. What would you have done differently? How could you have prepared better for the experience? Reflecting on your mistakes transforms them into valuable learning experiences.

For more inspiration on the benefits of keeping a journal, read these articles from Lifehack.org:

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6 Ways Journaling Will Change Your Life

10 Ways Journaling Can Improve Your Life

10. They schedule time for learning on their calendar

Successful people dedicated to lifelong learning understand that they must allocate serious time to learning. One approach is to spend an hour every morning on study – dedicating an hour every day to work on your skills puts you into the ranks of top performers. In addition, some people use one lunch hour per week to attend a webinar, read a book or work on another educational activity.

Featured photo credit: Young adult girl reading book near the window. via shutterstock.com

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Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is a Project Management Professional and Founder and CEO of Project Management Hacks.

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Last Updated on January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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