View Full Version : Learning in the Info Age
07-21-2006, 01:00 PM
I am in sales for a very large company and it seems the learning requirements are growing exponentially while my capacity seems to be tapering. Whether its old age or left brainless disease, I dont know, but its a problem.
I tend to see this learning challenge the same way I do my overwhelming project/next-action list. Too much is coming too fast... hand me a drink.
Any tricks or tactics for keeping up with the learning in your industry or in general?
To quote Eric Hoffer;
"In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists."
07-21-2006, 03:06 PM
the learning requirements are growing exponentially while my capacity seems to be tapering.
First, I found that adopting GTD had tangible benefits for learning and memory - I don't know how long you've been practicing, but it might provide some "symptomatic" treatment.
Second, are the requirements reasonable, and/or necessary? If you're trying to keep up with your field, naturally it's crucial (as your quote indicates). But if it's something that's being enforced externally, I wonder if you can tune some of it out.
Finally, if you do have to learn it, I would think your GTD system should be able to handle it. For example, if you've a report or other reading you have to get to, either make it a next action in the appropriate context, or carry it with you in your Read/Review folder. If you're finding you're just not making enough project, it may help to schedule blocks of reading/research/learning time in your calendar, and use that to motivate you to make progress.
Of course, there will probably always be too much, just like there are too many other things we'd like to do in life. (It's so bad I really hesitate to start my RSS feed reader sometimes.) But having your GTD system running smoothly should help in prioritizing - with 100% of your commitments made explicit, you can make informed choices about what you really need to read, and what might be someday/maybe.
I don't know if that helps - just my 2c!
P.S. If you're interested you might enjoy my article How to read a lot of books in a short time (http://ideamatt.blogspot.com/2006/02/how-to-read-lot-of-books-in-short-time.html).
07-21-2006, 04:31 PM
You might look at a pair of programs from Copernic (http://www.copernic.com): Copernic Agent and Copernic Summarizer. The Agent runs a web query across several search engines, throws away duplicates, and sorts the rest by keywords. Summarizer creates a summary of any text, which can be as brief or lengthy as you want. I do a LOT of reading in my work, and these programs have been a huge help in lightening the load.
07-27-2006, 01:49 PM
Appreciate the replies.
I'm also curious what strategies others use to keep learning.
Are you methodical about reading in various fields?
How do you keep your learning in sync with your priorities?
Do you make it a point to get around others who are smarter about certain aspects?
Any good resources you recommend online for learning more about business, research, etc.
07-28-2006, 12:07 AM
I have a reading hour scheduled every work day from 9 to 10 in the morning
when I read books and other sales related materials. Sometimes not only sale
but other areas of interest as well.
07-30-2006, 06:14 AM
As an academic, I am a professional learner--I can't teach about advances in my field if I do not know about them myself. Therefore, constant reading and learning are part of my job. I schedule reading time every day--even highy packed very busy days afford at least few minutes to skim a journal article-- and on many days I schedule an hour to read a textbook chapter. Saturday is my "read for pleasure" day--I never read job related material then. That's my day for reading history, biography, gardening books, even the occasional romance novel.
A few ideas that work for me:
1. When I go through a professional journal, I tear out articles I want to read, and put them in a folder on the front seat of my car. When I have to wait somewhere (say, at the dentist's office, or when sports practice runs late), I can do a little catching up.
2. Recorded books and lectures are worth their weight in gold, expecially if you, like me, spend much time in the car. About half the time I listen to lectures recorded at medical or nursing conferences, and half the time something on an unrelated field (music appreciation, history, a novel). Even in only 15 minutes of listening a day, you can learn a considerable amount in a month or two.
3. If I'm reading something important for my job, I always read with a highlighter or pen in my hand to mark important passages--it helps me focus on what I am trying to learn. Even if I never go back to that article or book again, having marked what I wanted to remember helps me remember it.