Are You an Online Learning Junkie? Here’s How to Get Your Life Back
Online learning is like Oreos. You can’t take just one online course, buy just one self-help book, or subscribe to just one newsletter.
Once you start, you want to have it all! That’s how I feel it, anyway.
But the trouble with Oreos is that, even if you eat the whole damn package, you don’t have enough. The only thing that stops you is that the package is empty, your stomach is full, and you feel kind of sick. But your appetite doesn’t really go away.
Unfortunately, the Internet, your hard drive, and your inbox are much bigger than your stomach.
And having an unlimited access to all the online courses, MOOCs, webinars, workshops, challenges, e-books, blogs, TED talks, podcasts, and all the other free (or affordable) resources can get you in trouble.
There’s always enough Oreos in your hand, and absolutely no limits as to how much you can consume.
So you keep learning, until one day you find out that there is something wrong:
+ You have no time, space, and energy to create.
+ You feel overwhelmed and stuck.
+ You never put things in practice, and all the knowledge turns out to be just pointless.
Sounds familiar? If consuming other people’s content is taking over your life and your creativity, then this post is for you.
Are you an online #learning junkie? Here's how to get your life back.Click To Tweet
Healthy vs. Compulsive Learning
The right amount of food makes you feel energized and happy. But when you eat too much, you end up feeling sick and guilty. Consuming online content is similar.
A radical information diet isn’t the answer.
The way I see it, learning from others is the only way to become the best version of yourself and keep growing as a person, as an entrepreneur, as a teacher, and as a creative individual. But hoarding resources and learning are two different things.
You can tell that you are learning compulsively, and not in a healthy way, if:
- You keep subscribing for free courses and webinars and then forgetting about them.
- You even forget about paid courses.
- You don’t remember when the last time was that you actually applied something you have learned and it worked (or didn’t work).
- Your inbox is full of newsletters, and in many cases, you have no idea why you have subscribed or who the person is.
- You don’t read new posts from your favorite bloggers, you just skim through them – it’s not that you aren’t interested, you just don’t have time.
- When you read blogs, watch webinars, or work through an online course, you have multiple tabs open in your browser.
- You wait for the replay of a webinar even if you can watch it live, because then you can watch it in 1,5x speed mode (please tell me I’m not the only one who has ever done this!).
Let’s put a stop to the meaningless marathon and start learning in a more fulfilling and effective way. Here is how:
Declutter Your Online Learning Like You Declutter Your Wardrobe
First, let’s have a look at what you already have and clean it up, so that you can create space for better learning.
1. “KonMari” the resources that you’ve downloaded and never used
Do you have online courses and e-books collecting dust on your hard drive? If you’re familiar with the teachings of Japanese cleaning guru Marie Kondo and her KonMari method, you know what you need to do. Decluttering your hard drive is no different from decluttering your wardrobe. (And if you don’t know Marie Kondo, get her book… but only if you mean it.)
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How to “KonMari” your hard drive
i. Put all your courses, books, and other files at one place (in one folder).
ii. Look at each one of the items and ask yourself: “Does this spark joy?” I know, it sounds funny, especially if you haven’t read the book. But I swear it’s the best decluttering question ever.
If you’re like me, your brain starts coming up with all sorts of “logical” reasons why you can’t discard this file (or this old T-shirt): “It cost $50, I can’t just throw it away,” or, “I don’t need it now, but I may need it later,” and so on.
But the question isn’t how much it cost, or if you may or may not need it in the future. The question is: Does it spark joy? It has nothing to do with logic, but in fact, it works even better. No matter what your brain says, you know deep inside that you aren’t going to finish this course (or wear this T-shirt), ever. And having it on your hard drive (in your wardrobe) only makes you feel guilty and stressed.
If the idea of reading the files or watching the videos doesn’t excite you, delete them. If the course isn’t in accordance with your long-term goals, get rid of it. If you don’t even remember why you purchased or downloaded the e-book, let it go.
iii. As for the rest, make a commitment to finish the courses/read the books and apply what you’ve learned. Make a plan, set deadlines. Try not to buy and subscribe to new courses and buy new books until you finish what you have and see how it works.
Learning is 20% information and 80% action. If you aren’t taking action, you aren’t learning; you’re just wasting time.
2. Organize Your Online Courses
If you happen to be subscribed to all kinds of free and paid courses all around the Internet, you probably don’t know where to start.
Start in your inbox. Unsubscribe from all the unwanted courses you’re getting through email – I’ll show you how to do so in the next step – and drop out of all the courses and platforms that send you reminders.
Again, schedule when you’re going to finish all the courses you want to keep. Set deadlines, find an accountability partner, and make it a priority.
3. Declutter Your Inbox
If you have a zillion unread emails in your inbox, it’s time to get that situation under control.
Go to Unroll.me to see all your subscriptions in one place. Unsubscribe from any newsletters that don’t spark joy. You can do it with one click.
Go back to your inbox and delete all your unread messages. Let’s be honest. If there are more than ten of them, and chances are that the number is much higher, you’ll never read them, anyway. Let them go.
Can you feel the weight lifting off your shoulders?
4. Clean up your social media life
Facebook groups aren’t just one of the best networking tools, but also one of the best places to learn from others.
But they can also consume a lot of your time and energy.
Go to Facebook -> groups to see all the communities you’ve joined. Say goodbye to all the groups you don’t feel excited about anymore.
Choose 1 – 3 groups that you love, and make it part of your routine to check what’s new, ask or answer questions, and read interesting threads.
On Twitter, create lists to organize and declutter your feed.
How Not to Fall Into the Trap Again
Okay, let’s imagine you’ve done it. You have a couple of courses and resources waiting for you online and on your hard drive, but it doesn’t stress you anymore. You have a plan, you have deadlines, and you know you can make it.
You feel excited when you think about everything you’re going to learn and how your business and your life is going to change when you apply it.
Your inbox shows zero unread messages. You feel like a queen of productivity.
And then it happens. You stumble on a free webinar, a free e-book, a worksheet, a checklist, a nice planner… It’s so hard to resist. You don’t want to miss out. But then again, you don’t want to let things get out of control again.
Getting something for free is easy. But you know what? Free things aren’t actually free.
What's the real cost of all the free online learning resources?Click To Tweet
You always invest something; your time, your energy, your mental space. The time, energy, and space you could be investing in your creative projects, your business, not to speak about your relationships.
That’s the price you pay whenever you get something for free. Is it worth it?
Before you subscribe to another newsletter, download another free book, or sign up for another webinar, ask yourself: “Would I pay for this?”
If the answer is anything other than “Hell yes!”, then the answer is no. You can’t afford it (although it’s free). Let it go.
How to Get the Most Out of Online LearningHow to get the most out of online learningClick To Tweet
Webinars and Online Courses
When you subscribe to a webinar or an online course, put it in your calendar. Set up reminders; make a commitment to attend it as if it was compulsory.
In case of live events, if you can’t catch them live, schedule the time when you’re going to watch the replay. If you can’t find a free spot in your calendar during the time the replay is going to be available (usually 48 hours), don’t subscribe.
When you watch a webinar or an online course, don’t multitask. Close the door of your room, turn off your phone, and don’t open other tabs to check Twitter.
After the webinar/course video ends, take several minutes to debrief. Find something you can put into practice right away and put it on your to-do list.
At the end of the month, evaluate. What have you learned? What worked? What didn’t?
Blogs and Podcasts
Make a list of your favorite bloggers, podcasts, and other resources. Read them, listen to them or watch them as a part of your daily schedule. If you set aside time to do this, you will be able to concentrate on learning when you learn, and to create when you create.
Non-Business Related Things
Learn things that aren’t business-related, without guilt.
Instead of a traffic building course, take a yoga class, a photography class, or a dance class. Instead of a business book, read a novel. Instead of a webinar, watch a movie.
Sometimes, closing your laptop is the best thing you can do for your online business.
Here’s what to do now:
☆ Clean your hard drive.
☆ Declutter your inbox.
☆ Organize your social media.
☆ Make a plan for the courses you want to finish, the Facebook groups you want to spend time in, the blogs you want to read, and the podcasts you want to listen to.
☆ When you plan, don’t forget about the 80/20 rule: 20% information, 80% action.
☆ Let me know how it worked for you (here or on Twitter).
In the comments below, tell me: What do you do not to get buried under avalanche of online learning resources?
Thank you for reading and sharing!