Education is powerful. It’s also ongoing.
To be a truly educated person, you must devote your life to learning, not just certain times of your life or even particular times of the year.
It may seem silly for college students to think about intentional learning habits. After all, you’re learning nearly every day in a classroom. But classroom learning is just one type of education. Also, believe it or not, it won’t go on forever. You will graduate sooner or later, which is why you should develop self-education habits now.
The most intelligent people have daily rituals that help them grow in their understanding of the world around them.
Here are 11 habits you can add to your regular routine to help you learn every day.
1. Question everything. Don’t assume anything. Definitely don’t just blindly accept what you hear or what you read on social media. Keep your eyes and you mind open. Have a childlike curiosity that keeps you questioning everything. Follow your questions until you have answers and your curiosity is satisfied.
2. Read every day. Reading is one of the best ways to broaden your understanding and gain knowledge. Warren Buffett says he spends 80 percent of his working day reading and thinking. If Buffett can take time to read every day, so can you. It doesn’t matter as much what you read, as long as you read. Not sure how to fit reading into your daily schedule? This post on making time to read every day will help.
3. Find your passion. Confession: I’m obsessed with serial killers. Ok, I’m actually just really interesting in how the mind (including mental illness) works and what makes people do the things they do. Because of this, I’ve become an avid reader of true crime and learn everything I can about psychology. I also love learning about leadership and productivity. Yes, crime, leadership and productivity are my favorite topics. I know it’s strange, but our minds our diverse.
Regardless of whether it makes sense to anyone else, find a topic or topics that interest you and take in all of the related information you can. You’ll enjoy the learning because you’re interested in the ideas.
4. Hang out with people who are smarter than you. I love being the smartest person in the room. I also love being the dumbest person in the room. You automatically learn when you surround yourself by people who are smarter than you, even if it’s in a niche area. Ask questions. Be genuinely interested in the answers. You will learn.
5. Make time to think. My Ph.D. chair always told me “You have to slow down and give yourself time to think.” This is difficult to do, especially when you’re a doer by nature like I am. However, enlightenment doesn’t come from doing and doing. It shows itself when you take time to pause and reflect on what you know and what you still don’t understand.
6. Set goals. Smart people know what’s really important to them and they spend their time every day working toward their goals. Set goals for yourself, then make them your priority.
7. Be productive. Being busy and being productive are two different things. Focus your days on completing tasks that further your goals and you’ll feel accomplished at the end of the day.
8. Generate new ideas. Always be thinking about new ideas or new ways of doing things. Jot down ideas when they come to you. Push yourself to be creative and think differently. Review your ideas regularly and implement those that make sense.
9. Minimize TV time. I am not a huge television viewer, but my husband is, so I understand the desire to just veg out in front of the television or Netflix during your downtime. Consider spending at least part of this time reading, attending a webinar or learning how to do something new. If TV is really your thing, watch a documentary instead of the regular fluff.
10. Crash your comfort zone. Do something each day that isn’t something you would typically do. Whether it’s as simple as trying a new food or as radical as skydiving, do something every day that scares or challenges you. It’s not just a cliche, life and learning happen outside of your comfort zone.
11. Exercise your body and your brain. Exercise actually improves memory and brain functioning. Incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Don’t forget also to exercise your brain, even when you aren’t moving your body. Consider downloading a daily word app or working puzzles.
There are little things you can do every day outside of the classroom to make learning a life-long endeavor. Develop these habits now and they’ll serve you well for the rest of your life.