Opportunistic Learning Strategies

The love of learning, the sequestered nooks,
And all the sweet serenity of books

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I’ve talked before about learning as an adult, and the particular challenges that come with it. Throw in parenthood and it can be even harder to find the time. I’m going to share a few opportunistic learning strategies I’ve tried and talk about which worked (or didn’t) for me.

What has worked

Remove as many barriers to starting a learning session as possible. For me, this involves having ebooks/pdfs available on my devices, or having a dedicated notebook with printouts and pencil in a readily available place.

Find your golden hour. This is the hour (or more if you are lucky) where you are awake, motivated, and have the highest likelihood of getting at least 30 minutes of concentration. For me, this is around 8:00, as my newborn normally goes down for her first nap at 7:30 and I can get the necessary jobs for the morning out of the way by 8.

What hasn’t worked

Learning in the bedroom. I tried having a book and some worksheets on the bedside table, but I found that there was never a period where the TV wasn’t on, or I wasn’t talking with my wife, or entertaining the child. The bedroom was too much of a family space to be an effective learning space. This, of course, may work exceptionally well for other people, as a way of getting in 30 minutes of learning before or after sleep.

Scheduling learning around family time. My greatest joy is spending time with my family, and somewhat by definition of not being a corporate organisation, it is defined by spontaneity. So my learning tends to be before my family is up and about, after they have gone to sleep, or in my lunch hour at work.

Discussion points

  • What techniques do you have for making the most of a learning opportunity?
  • How have you make a learning friendly environment for children?
  • Was your golden hour where you thought it was?

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