by Paul Casey

What to Do When Learning Something New

You go to a conference or seminar.

You read a book, magazine, or blog.

You listen to a podcast.

You meet with a mentor…

…and you get inspired! (because it’s one of the 10 ways I believe you are growth-minded) You scribble down notes to not lose the takeaway value of that quote that motivates you, that tool to implement, that habit to start, that book to read, or that person to connect to.

Research shows that if you don’t do anything with your new learning within 72 hours, it will begin to fade away until forgotten. You need a system for turning an insight into an action item!

I once had a boss who, upon returning from a conference, actually gave me paid time to debrief what I learned and make a plan to implement! Genius! But most of us have to dive right back into the day-to-day to-do’s of work life. So, to be intentional with ideas:

  1. Block out time to review your notes. Literally find a window of time to get into solitude and re-read what you learned. The longer the learning experience was, the more time you need to debrief it (e.g. a 2-day conference needs at least 2 hours; a 1-hour podcast = 10 minutes).
  2. During this review, highlight the most important insights that got your attention at the time. You can’t do everything–so, it’s essential to narrow-in on what had, and can make, the most impact.
  3. Categorize the takeaways into action categories. For instance,
    • Quotes to post (on your door, in social media, or on meeting agendas)
    • Ideas to discuss with your team or success partners
    • Resources to explore or buy (books, equipment, training)
    • Habits to incorporate (into your morning routine, or in 1-to-1’s, etc.)
    • Followup with the speaker
  4. Block out time to take the actions. Sure, you can add them to your to-do list, but that lacks urgency and may get procrastinated. Find a window of time and make an appointment with yourself (or with other implementors) to do each action–then obey your calendar when that time block arrives.

No more stuffing new ideas in binders or letting them sit in the bottom of your paperwork pile. Take action on them as kindling to the fire of your Growing Forward!

I’m on Instagram at growingforwardservices. How about a follow?


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