3 Tools To Help You Find Time For Learning Each Day

3 Tools To Help You Find Time For Learning Each Day

3 Tools to learning - Peter Billingham Leadership SpeakerWhen did you stop learning? If you say, I don’t have time to learn, then this post is for you! Here are 3 tools that you can use to fit learning into every day.

8,905,124 people have taken the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment, I am 1 of them. Gallup introduced the first version of its online assessment, StrengthsFinder, in 2001 to help people discover their talents and strengths. Among 34 themes or strengths listed,  learning is high on my list. I have been, and still am, a lifelong learner.

What are you learning right now?


Learn and Lead

We may have heard it said many times that, “Leaders are Learners” but from my experience and observation many leaders find themselves too busy to continually develop skills and knowledge. Stephen Covey will be remembered for many things, but chiefly among them his seminal work, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. “Sharpening The Saw” for a leader should not just be a nice idea, but it needs to be planned, structured and actioned. If you are not learning as a leader in this fast paced world of change, then you are in danger of becoming left behind. As a motivational speaker to leaders I am regularly reminding developing leaders that primarily Leadership is about Learning and applying that learning in different situations and roles. 

How You Can Find Time For Learning?

In our fast-paced and frenetic society, this is a valid question you can ask. Being connected at all times through smart phones and tablets brings great benefits, one of these is the opportunity to “learn” on the go. Although, as I have written here, it is also good as a leader on a regular basis to “disconnect.” You could find that podcasts could be a great way to learn and an effective use of time when commuting or exercising. There is a renaissance of podcasting. Thousands if not hundreds of thousands of hours of outstanding content is being uploaded and made available for free every single day. Why not consider using podcasts as a way to learn?

My normal UK commute is around 45 to 50 minutes, depending on traffic, each day. However, the commute to the project in Ukraine is significantly longer! Of course, you can listen to the radio, but I find the ability to connect my Bluetooth phone to the car Bluetooth system and listen to podcasts has been an effective and useful way to increase my knowledge while commuting. Many podcasts are created for this very reason to be the length of an average commute. Added to the fact that my dog and I walk for about 45 minutes to an hour each morning, this gives a significant amount of time to take on board content and knowledge.

The Renaissance of Podcasting

Here is a list of podcasts that I currently listen to and can fully recommend as worth the investment of time. I use Stitcher radio as an app for these podcasts through my iPhone.

    • Chris Brogan - The Human Business Way – I been introduced to so much  great content, learning and interesting guests by Chris  - my #1 Choice!
    • Jared Easley - Starve the Doubts – New show, very entertaining style and format with original and creative content.
    • Alex Baldwin - Here’s The Thing with Alec Baldwin – Master interviewer with a range of entertaining and eclectic guests. 
    • John Lee Dumas - Entrepreneur On Fire – John publishes a very entertaining and informative show everyday! Just amazing!
    • Srinivas Rao - Blogcast FM - Interviews with big names, little names and no names. The common thread? They all have interesting stories. Though you may want to not get involved in the drinking game!
    • Bo Bennett - A weekly discussion about communication and leadership with Toastmasters  from around the globe.
    • John Jantsch - Duct Tape Marketing - Interviews with authors, experts and thought leaders sharing business marketing tips, tactics and resources hosted by one America’s leading small business marketing experts.
    • Mitch Jackson - Trial Lawyer Communication Tips – This podcast is about communicating and influencing with skill and passion – learning the “dance” of communication, fascinating!
    • Marcus Sheridan - The Mad Marketing podcast is where real questions about marketing are asked and real answers are given, by someone that’s actually living it, breathing it, and doing it. Though not a regular, still worth a flick through the library.

Can I encourage you that if you listen to these podcasts you take a moment to visit iTunes and leave a review? All of these excellent shows are free content. I am on a “one-man mission” to encourage people to comment on the Internet. One of my most popular blog posts on this very subject explains why we should not be just consumers, but commenters as well. Not only does it help with ratings but it also offers tremendous encouragement for the people who produce this content.

3 Tools To Help You Find Time To Learn Peter BillinghamAnother effective tool in consuming content from the Internet is SoundGeko – this is an amazing service which converts text webpages to MP3 and downloads them to your phone or computer. Like reading blogs but struggle to find the time? Then convert them to MP3 and add this to the commute/exercise listening time. You can add an RSS feed to the service and if you upgrade to the paid version then many other automated options become available so that when you have time to listen, the content is queued up ready. Here is a video I created for the charity I work for about the value of using SoundGeko.

Coaching – SoundGecko “Top Tip” from Creativity Unleashed on Vimeo.

Anki Flash Cards - Peter Billingham 3 Tools for Learning

Do you find it hard to remember new information? My excuse was always that I am getting old! But by using the technique of spaced repetition, it is much easier to train your brain to remember. An excellent tool for doing this which is totally customisable is Anki. Anki is a free program which makes remembering things easy. Because it’s a lot more efficient than traditional study methods, you can either greatly decrease your time spent studying, or greatly increase the amount you learn. Taking just a few minutes a day to work through a deck of flashcards can help you improve your knowledge about a subject simply and easily but extremely effectively.

Here are some areas where I am learning right now, if you are interested to know more please get in touch.

Learning basic Spanish – I hope to walk the Camino De Santiago – “The Way” in 2014 having some basic Spanish would be extremely useful. I am using – “Coffee Break Spanish” podcast and Anki flashcards as tools.

Learning to Speed Read – I currently read around 1  and 1/2 books a month. My current reading speed is around 250 words per minute. I am using a new piece of software called 7 Speed Reading – and want to increase my reading speed by the end of the year to around 500 – 600 words per minute. Using the software not only promises to increase the speed, but also helps increase retention of the content. In the future, I will write more about my progress with this software.

Learning to use Dragon Dictate – I only use 2 fingers to type and find that it is slow and cumbersome. I have been using Dragon Dictate and find it an excellent tool to increase the speed of writing. This blog post has been written entirely on Dragon. While it is 95% perfect out-of-the-box, I am looking to increase my skills and knowledge of this software to improve my efficiency in writing. As a way to do this I am creating a deck of cards on Anki of commands and learning to improve the functionality of the software.

Learning speech writing and public speaking skills. Public speaking does not appear on the Clifton StrengthsFinder list, but if it did I think it would be one of my top themes. But I have always believed that it is possible to improve our skills with knowledge and practice. I am now an active member of Toastmasters and in the next year will be the Vice President of Education for the Heart of England Chapter. Every 2 weeks this gives me a chance to develop better speechwriting and delivery skills as a group of experienced speakers evaluate and give feedback on performance. If you fear public speaking and want to have a coach to help you, then find your local Toastmasters, it will really grow your confidence and skills in writing a speech and public speaking.

These are just 4 ways that I am currently trying to be a lifelong learner. What about you? How are you growing and developing your knowledge and skills? As a leader why not set yourself some targets on growing in knowledge for the rest of 2013? Would you like to read faster? Would you like to learn a new language? Would you like to develop skills in programming or blogging? The web has an endless supply of resources, but we need to find the time to action the learning. I hope that you find these tools useful and if you do, it would be great to start a conversation with you about how you are developing your learning right now. Please write and tell me.

Image by istockphoto


Posted on by Peter Billingham in Blog Posts, Books, Leadership, Public Speaking

About Peter Billingham

Leader, Learner, Speechwriter, Storyteller, Author. a.k.a. 'The Artful Speaker' Enjoy working on social action projects, Toastmasters, films & adventure travel.

4 Responses to 3 Tools To Help You Find Time For Learning Each Day

  1. Jared Easley

    I love the list of podcasts. I did not recognize a few of them. I have a few more to chrck out now. Great post Peter… Cool video as well. Thank you for sharing.

    • Peter Billingham

      Thanks Jared – a great variety and choice! Find it a much better way of spending time commuting. Thanks for the encouragement!

  2. Peter Watts

    PodCasts are just brilliant, and you’ve got some masterful examples on here. I also love the SoundGeko idea. making mental note to download it. Can I contribute three other sources? All are good blogging friends with some interesting things to say. It’s one PodCast and two blogs:

    The Jason Womack productivity podcast

    The Make a Powerful Point Blog by Gavin McMahon

    The Fool With a Plan HR Blog by Broc Edwards

    These last two guys are blog only right now. Maybe we should start campaigning to encourage them to PodCast. Maybe I should encouraging myself to try it as well!!!!

    • Peter Billingham

      Thanks for the comment Peter – I will check out these resources as they are all new to me. (By the way, love the title of Broc Edwards blog) I find that I am learning so much by using the time on a commute to listen to a podcast, there is just so much great content out there! And on the last point, thats a good thought. I have just started adding audio to my blog posts – see here http://peterbillingham.com/lets-hear-it-for-the-intrapreneur/ – as a way of repurposing content. It’s takes so much time to create content so I just wanted to try an idea of turning the blogpost into a blogcast by recording it. It’s early days and just an idea, but it’s fun to try! Thanks again for the comment, really appreciate it.

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