5 self study tips for adults

These days, many people understand the importance of lifelong learning, but struggle to make it a reality, which is understandable.  Studying takes time, it can cost money (although there are some free options available) and it takes energy, which can be hard to muster when you’re busy trying to keep on top of life in general.  I’ve created three separate pages with quotes to encourage you to study, free online courses and free self-development resources and I’ll keep updating them when I find new content to add, so please check them every now and again.  This blog contains five tips for effective self study, even when you’re busy.  They work for me and I hope they work for you.  

Link it to at least one goal

You might be thoroughly sold on the idea of self-study in principle, but find that, in practice, there’s always something else higher on your list of priorities.  The trick to getting around this is to choose study topics which you can link to at least one of your life goals.  When you can see a clear and definite purpose to your studying, it’s easier to get on with it.

Link it to at least one of your values

Similarly to the previous tip, if you can link your studies with a specific belief which is important to you, you’ll probably find it easier to get on with it instead of making excuses.

Be realistic about how much time you actually have

You may be able to find study time by managing your other tasks more effectively, but there’s always going to be an upper limit to how much time any person can find.  If you set yourself goals which require more time than you genuinely have available then you’re setting yourself up for disappointment and frustration, which is very demotivating.  It’s far better to set yourself softer targets, which you can actually achieve.

Track your progress

The mind can play tricks on us, especially when we’re busy, but accurate records tell us the truth.  If you’re serious about study, then you need to keep records of what you actually do, rather than just what you plan to do.

Always remember that study is a process rather than a place

I’ve seen a number of blogs which highlight the importance of having a dedicated place of study and there’s a lot of advice online about how to set up such a place and what sort of supplies you should have.  In my opinion, there may be some value in this for people who’re at school, particularly in the early years, because at school you’ll probably find yourself needing to study topics, you’d prefer to avoid, for which, realistically, you need discipline rather than enthusiasm.  When you’re an adult, you’re hopefully studying topics which interest you, which means that your challenge is usually to find time and given how difficult that can be, you probably want to avoid getting into the mindset that you have to find sufficient time and a specific place.  Instead, think about what conditions you need to be able to study and how you can achieve them regardless of where you are physically.  For example, if you find it helps to have background music, then an MP3 player will save the battery on your phone.  If, by contrast, you work best when it’s quiet, then try noise-cancelling headphones and/or earphones.  For safety reasons, I suggest you keep the former for situations when you have someone responsible with you, since the good ones do cancel out all noise, up to and including the likes of fire alarms.  By contrast, good earplugs will still let some noise through, which will allow you to hear important sounds, like alarms or even children waking up.

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