June 24, 2015

Productivity

Self-education: 10 secrets of efficiency

By Alexander Sergeev

Self-education may be a worthy and better alternative to a formal education, be it a second higher education or extension courses.

Why self-education is better?

  1. Self-education gives more relevant knowledge. The majority of new ideas that occur to people’s heads are discussed in conversations, blogs and articles now, after that they “ripen” into books, translated to other languages, added to education programs and only then they students can learn them. The discussed process takes 3-5 years. So self-education allows you to learn something in its first stages. Especially if it concerns IT as by the moment new information reaches books, the knowledge gets old.
  2. Self-education allows to make a personalized education program. In the case of a formal education, the program is made up from a large amount of material which you don’t actually need. You don’t remember it but it takes time, efforts and money. Trying to remember an unnecessary material will replace needed knowledge in your head. You make your own education program for self-education in compliance with your needs.
  3. Self-education also gives more motivation for learning. Though, there’s no “trainer” effect (teachers usually do it) and material involvement (you don’t feel sorry to quit) but still motivation is greater. Self-education is more efficient as it’s relevant and individual. You understand how to apply everything you learn. You feel precisely the benefit of it and it gives you strength to continue.
  4. Self-education broadens your communication circle. The circle of like-minded people is limited to your group in case of a second higher education. But if you choose self-education, you share ideas with the whole world via internet. It gives you a possibility to learn from the best. Gathering knowledge sources on your own will give you an opportunity to learn from the people who have got the material on their own experience.
  5. Self-education gives a possibility to manage your schedule. The existing schedule imposed by formal education is also necessary for self-education in order to get stable results. However, you choose the most convenient time for you if learning by yourself.
  6. Self-education is free. Your development needs time both on courses and during self-education. But you’ll have to pay money for traditional education as well. You can fill up your apartment with books for the price of formal education. For example, Executive MBA courses cost 95 000 euro.

So what should you start from and how to make the process of self-education efficient?

Your plan

  1. Learn languages.
    The majority of new ideas appear in English. And it’s not because of the most advanced people live in English-speaking countries but because the language has become a modern Latin. No matter if you’re an Italian or Chinese and claim to take part in an international conversation of an interesting topic for you, you’ll write in English. English is the universal language of Internet and it’s easier to find the answers to your question in English rather than in any other language. There’s another reason to learn the language — translations are usually no good. It’s not because I could do it better but because it’s really hard to do it. Many terms haven’t settled yet in other languages and specialists use native words.
  2. Create a balanced informational diet.
    – Be respectful towards holy writings. As first-graders learn to read and write, you need to start from basics. Read the 100 best books on business or the 25 most influential business management books according to Time.
    – Don’t forget about the range of interests. The first instinct is to read all the books on your speciality but you shouldn’t forget about “eternal”. Here are the 10 most popular self-education topics for leaders:
    personnel management.
    innovation management.
    qwn career management.
    work productivity management.
    methods of problem solving.
    changes management.
    how to earn more.
    establishing connections and keeping relations.
    time management.
    corporate culture.
    – Remember of your soul.
    Observe the balance of practical and motivational reading. Ideally, you should feel not only an intellectual enrichment, but a spiritual one as well.
  3. Use hidden temporary reserves for self-education.
    If you use metro, then printed text and video are you formats and you have an additional hour for self-development. If you jog, choose podcasts and audiobooks. Make it a rule for yourself to use the time right for self-education.
  4. Find interesting journals.
    – use ready made lists. Follow strangers’ footsteps  — find made up lists of resources. For example:
    management reading list
    web design learning sources
    – set up knowledge home delivery. Subscribe to blogs and user programs for blog subscribing:
    Feedly
    Flipboard
    Zite
    – revise your informational sources from time to time. The longer you learn, the more sources you’ll use and the more difficult it will be to choose the most important. So revise them periodically: delete what you don’t need and add something new according to your changing needs.
  5. Google it.
    Self-education make take different forms. Any problem is a chance to learn something new. Never try to solve a new problem without making a surface search for a solution in Internet. It may seem an interesting to invent a bicycle but smart people prefer to learn at other’s mistakes.
  6. Save time reading books in short variants.
    Sometimes big books include few main ideas with a great many of examples which aren’t always relevant to reality. However, there’s a way to avoid big time and money expenses on studying.
    – websites with short editions of books. You subscribe to such websites for a small price. Some have free limited subscriptions and send you brief books as a “bait”.
    – book reviews. Find an interesting book on Amazon and look through the readers’ reviews (long ones). There are always some people who make a small summary of a book describing main ideas  — 20% of text which are 80% of the book worth.
  7. Discuss the topics you learn.
    Communication on forums like LinkedIn and Quora have several advantages:
    – discussing the material you study will help you to get a better grip of it.
    – you can get practical relevant information about the market while communicating with real people. You can’t get this information from books or blogs.
    – communication on forums is one of the forms of establishing good relations. You grow your karma asking and answering questions.
  8. Learn for free from those who teach.
    – attend conferences. It’s easy to find free conferences on various topics now. The aim is not only to drink a free coffee but also to listen to smart people and get acquainted with new people.
    – take part in webinars. Modern conceptions of content marketing imply that before you sell something to a person, you need to teach him/her. You should use it.
    – invite people for interviews. Sometimes the best way to understand how a competitor’s business work is to ask an employee from that company to an interview. Listen attentively and write everything down.
  9. Read effectively.
    I mean you should remember maximum of information during a time unit. There a many speed reading and efficient memorization techniques. I prefer SQ3R.
  10. Apply it!
    Scientists have proved that application of knowledge is an important stage of information assimilation and an invariable condition for competence growth. As self-education program is set for your needs, there won’t be any problems with application of your new knowledge.

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