What should you learn today that is going to help you in the long run?

What to learn today to ensure that post-lockdown you can succeed? We are currently in lockdown in the UK; this has created a fantastic opportunity for everyone to consider learning something new. But what should you learn today that is going to help you the most?

Time each day to learn in lockdown

I am in a tricky situation when it comes to investing time in my personal learning. Noah, my 1-year old son, is home as the childminder is shut. Whilst my wife, Charlie who is a lawyer, is working away upstairs; the law never stops! Because of the lockdown, there is a polarization of who can work. Either people are busier than they were before because they are doing a job and looking after their children. Or they’ve been furloughed so they have more time on their hands.

Therefore I find myself on full-time Daddy Day Care with Noah. It’s a wonderful experience spending time with him every day and he learns something new as he explores the world. 

Which is great – however, I need to do something to exercise my brain and body. Endless 1-year-old games and Mr Tumble on the TV does soak up brain cells. I know in the grand scheme of things this is a very small violin to be playing for myself. Especially with the hardships that a lot of people are going through at the moment. But if the goal of life is to maximise one’s potential – I must do more! What to learn today to maximise my potential?

Daily rapid skill acquisition 

Using research around rapid skill acquisition I am looking to set myself some challenges over the coming months. What can I learn today in very short bursts whilst Noah is asleep or whilst Noah is otherwise engaged? I am considering skills that I think will help me in the long run. What can I learn in these conditions that will actually help develop a framework for deeper learning? What should I learn that will set up opportunities in the new world post-Covid19?

The first skill that I have decided to look at is touch-typing. I have often been jealous of people with fast typing skills. The most prolific people I know can all touch-type. I have tried before but never stuck with it. What an opportunity! People who can touch-type must save hours of work time when replying to emails, chatting on Slack or writing blogs!

In discussion with my wife about this skill, we decided to do an online test to see how we compared. I came out at a measly 10 words per minute (this was after a week of practice)… and Charlie managed 70 words per minute! Charlie, as anyone who knows her will attest to, is someone who gets things done. Writing 70 words a minute is obviously something that has helped her in her day-to-day job of being a superstar!

What to learn today to create a routine of daily learning?

So the plan is to get into a routine of daily practice and see how I can do. I understand that creating a daily habit or daily practice is essential to layer up the skills required to improve. Being aware of how skill develops should also help. Such as recognising that there will be times when I will plateau in my learning. Times when the results might start dropping off, and even times when I get a breakthrough. However, if I continue to take action and embed the learning then I will improve. Having a routine is again a trait that many successful people have in common. Creating a daily practice of learning I hope to develop a framework for future skill acquisition; I don’t just want to learn to touch-type. 

Adapting to COVID19 life in full Daddy Day Care mode has been interesting with a 1-year-old. For example, exercising as a Dad for the first time by lunging around the garden with Noah in the pram.  A daily routine around the whims of a 1-year old maybe something that I need to develop. Depending on how long lockdown is maintained obviously. So I am going to start with one 25-minute skill-based exercise a day. I hope over time these efforts will create exponential growth as the skills I choose to invest in stack. Creating a strong foundation for future growth.

Noah had his first birthday in lockdown, (We had a Zoom party call – which was madness). He is growing so quickly, but we feel he is missing out on socialisation with other people. All this has resulted in very little brain space for any endeavours on my part. So taking the decision to concentrate on one little daily practice for myself is important. It means that I am taking action no matter how small to improve myself every day. Developing micro habits is what over the long run can have a bigger impact on success than getting carried away with large scale changes as Brianna Wiest explored in her Forbes article.

Any business work is really on hold whilst looking after Noah; the combination of lack of time and associated economic fallout means that business has had to take a back seat.

Make a decision to invest in yourself and learn something new today.

Anytime that I have had, I have been spending on thinking about levers. What is the lever or action that will deliver, in the shortest time, the greatest impact? The decision to spend a little time each day investing in myself is a result of this thinking. 

Any skill that I spend my time developing I want to be useful to me in the long run. The skills should form the basis for meta-skills that I and others will need in an evolving workplace post Covid19. Furthermore, what are the skills that Noah will need to develop over the next 20-30 years to reach his potential? I explored this in a previous blog whilst thinking about the skills Noah will need to have a successful career.

Starting with touch-typing I am going to apply all that I have learnt about meta-skill acquisition and go for it. A little bit each day. 

There are plenty of other challenges that I have considered for myself in this strange time. But for now let’s start with one. 

Testing out the theories of rapid skill acquisition.

Touch-typing is intimidating for me and something that I have really put off in the past. Remember my speed test is currently just 10WPM….

I want to see what I can actually achieve with short, focussed bursts of activity.  

The backdrop of the Coronavirus Pandemic means all bets are off when it comes to exciting locations to practice. This will be me in my kitchen or in my garden. 

If this does work I will look at spending some time on other skills. Let me know what skills you have looked to invest in during lockdown. What other meta-skills you think it would be worth my while investigating.

James O'Donnell
James O'Donnell

James is on a mission to put the Social back into Social Media!