Do you ever wish you had more time to learn something new?

Maybe it’s a new topic you’ve heard about like cryptocurrency or passive income. Perhaps you want to learn a new skill, like writing a screenplay or speaking Spanish. Or maybe you’re just looking for more time to keep up on world events.

Whatever it is, chances are you’re having trouble finding the time, so why not look for places in your day where you’re not doing anything with your mind.

There are many times throughout the day that we might find ourselves physically engages, but our minds are left wide open and ready for passive learning. Those are perfect times to learn something new without spending any extra time.

Here are some examples:

1. Commuting

How much time do you spend commuting? Whether it’s walking, biking, catching a ride on the subway or driving, the national average for commuting to work is 25.4 minutes. At that average twice a day, five days a week, 50 weeks a year, that works out to roughly 211 hours per year.

What are you doing during that time? Are you listening to the radio, or worse, commercials?

2. Working Out

If you’re someone who loves to hit the gym, enjoys training for a marathon, or frequents any other type of above-water exercise, you’re in luck! Depending on how often and how long you exercise, you could have several hours a week for listening to something other than the latest chart-toppers on Spotify.

3. Cooking

Prepping for dinner may NOT provide enough time to learn if you do most of your cooking in the microwave. However, if you DO spend a lot of time in the kitchen, it can be another great place to learn, especially if you want to learn to cook. You can prop up your phone or open up your laptop and tune into an educational video instead of watching your water come to a boil slowly.

4. Household Chores, Doing the Dishes, and Folding Laundry

Doing the dishes, folding your laundry, or dusting your entertainment center may not take a lot of time, but it’s still a chunk of time where you can’t do much else. It’s mindless work! So, instead of whistling while you work, try learning something new instead.

5. Outdoor Chores, Mowing the Yard, and Raking Leaves

I spend a ton of time each fall raking leaves and significantly more time mowing my yard, but I love it! Why? Because many outdoor chores are monotonous, almost meditative, and I find that the nature of this work allows me to focus on audio much better than in most other places. Give it a try!

An Opportunity for Auditory Learning

Okay, so I’ve given you five examples of times during the day where you might be able to learn something new while performing another task (multitasking is real!) and these are certainly not the only five, they’re just five times that I’ve found that work for me.

Did you notice a trend? Most of these examples lend well to auditory learning, because, while your hands or eyes may not be free, your mind is. That’s why many of these examples are so boring – your mind is not actively engaged.

When you examine your daily routine, are there several times throughout the day that you’re not using the full power of your brain? Are there periods in the day that you fill with noise or other distractions to pass the time?

If so, those might be great times to learn something new instead. The possibilities are practically endless, but here are a few to get you started:

Learn a New Language

I hear quite a few people (my wife and I included) that say they want to learn a new language, but they often put it off. Why do you think that is?

For me, it’s mostly due to not having any time, but when I look deeper, I have to admit that I’m worried about it being embarrassing. The thought of struggling to pronounce words correctly is enough to avoid trying altogether.

Related: Overcome Your Self-Limiting Beliefs for a Healthier Mindset

But if you think about it, the chances are that you commute alone, and while this may not work so great on a subway or a bus, the car is a great place to practice a new language privately.

You have the car to yourself so you can turn on your favorite language App or CD and rehearse out loud. The longer your commute, the more practice you’ll get.

A couple of great resources to learn new languages are Pimsleur or Living Language Drive Time. Check them out!

Listen to Books Monthly on Audible

This is one of my new favorite habits. While I only started a few months ago, I’ve been listening to all kinds of neat books. I listened to a workshop on screenwriting and understanding the Hero’s Journey.

I listened to Grant Cardone talk about how to be a better salesperson and his teachings are already paying dividends in my life. For real!

I even listened to a book called The Richest Man in Babylon which was released in 1927 and is based on old, transcribed stories from Babylonian artifacts. That’s a book I would have never read on paper because of the older speaking style, but it was really neat to listen to.

The main reason that this is my favorite new habit is: I’m a terribly slow reader! My goal for 2018 was to read 12 books, which I managed to do, but Audible has allowed me to consume books so much faster. I listen in the gym, while I mow, and even in the car!

Audible starts with a 30-day free trial but it’s well worth the $14.95/month for 1 credit after that. If you’re not into subscriptions, you can also buy books without a monthly subscription on an individual basis.

Subscribe to Podcasts and Listen Daily

If books aren’t your thing, podcasts are also a great way to learn a variety of topics and they’re much shorter than audiobooks.

When I’m not listening to a book in the gym, I’m definitely listening to a podcast. The average episode for most of the shows I listen to is about 30 minutes, making it easy to get in a full episode without interruption. For the shorter episodes, I can often get two in during my workout.

Related: 5 Mentors I’ve Never Met and How They’ve Changed My Life

Best of all: there’s a podcast for practically every interest. I know people that listen to investigative/crime podcasts. I know others who listen to shows about emerging technologies and experimental medicine. It really doesn’t matter what you’re into, you’re bound to find a podcast that you love.

Listen to Ted Talks and Educational YouTube Videos

Last on my list are Ted Talks and educational YouTube videos. While these are videos, they’re also great to listen to.

If you’re on the go, this might be a little more difficult unless you have YouTube Red, but listening to videos is perfect for time spent in the office or in your house.

Whether you’re folding laundry or prepping dinner, it’s easy to prop up your phone or open up your laptop and tune into something educational. And, just like podcasts, there’s something for everyone! My favorite go-to channel is Wealth Hacker Labs, formerly Good Financial Cents, by Jeff Rose.

Learning about finances, investing, and generating income were not things I had a lot of time for, or so I thought! Now, I tune in each week at my desk, and while I may not watch each video, I make sure to listen!

Related: Which of These Financial Gurus Can Help Achieve Your Money Goals?

Over to You

So there you have it: four ways to learn something new and nine places to make time for it. Are you already doing any of these? Are you going to try any of these examples?

If you read this entire article, maybe you don’t think of yourself as an auditory learner – maybe you’re a more visual or hands-on learner. Even so, give some of these techniques a try and see what happens.

I find that many people struggle at first because they hear the audio, but they’re not actively listening. That used to be me! I would be engaged in a conversation and I’d hear everything, but moments later I wouldn’t recall what was discussed because I wasn’t actively listening. i was too busy thinking about what I need to say or do next.

In addition to learning something new in the content you listen to, training yourself to actively listen will be a fantastic new skill in itself.

Have fun and learn a lot!

If you’re enjoying this blog, be sure to subscribe to the Daily New Years Podcast and put the info in this article to use. 

The podcast offers similar content that you can take with you on the go and it’s available everywhere, including iTunes, Spotify, and Google Podcasts.

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.

  • Rodney Jetton

    Great article. I have been doing this to learn German. Duolingo has a great app that lets you spend 15 min a day to learn a language and I have found it extremely helpful. It’s also free if you don’t mind watching an add between lessons.

    • Austin Bollinger

      That’s Awesome! I’ll have to download that and give it a try. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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